One of the first things I noticed when I began working in fashion was that no one really wore makeup. Bare eyes seemed to be the mark of a good editor — I pictured them working late into the night surrounded by racks of gorgeous clothing, too busy deciding on which furs would make it into the shoot than to care about a petty thing like mascara. Nails were short, lips unstained, and the closest thing to “product” was a tube of Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream that multitasked with the same vigor as their assistants.
The message, I heard loud and clear, was that it was all about the clothes.
But the younger generation of fashion assistants and the interns who were my peers still craved beautiful tubes of magical gunk like children in a candy store. We consumed YouTube makeup tutorials like each one was a smiling gob of ice cream and zoomed in with squinted eyes to catch any hint of detailing on runway fingernails. If a hairdo required a maximum of two hands, we’d replicate it, and if a lip color was to be found on the shelves at any cost, we wore it.
This isn’t to say that it wasn’t also all about the clothes for us. It’s just that when you’re twenty and dying to own a pair of your favorite designer’s shoes but can only afford the eyeshadow, beauty seems like a very real way to interact with a world that’s still slightly alien.
Recently, however, it seems that makeup and hair have become a prominent part of the runway conversation. No longer is it just about the heel height or skirt shape, but it’s also about the length of one’s bob, the color of lips and the hue of one’s cheek.
This season, for example, it was all about deep side-parts as seen at Opening Ceremony, Peter Som, Proenza Schouler and Rodarte. And if middle parts began to show any threat of a decline, Marchesa, Tibi and Simone Rocha stood up for them by running braids straight down the center of their models’ heads.
Eyes were wing-tipped in honor of the cat at Rag & Bone, Roberto Cavalli and Dolce & Gabbana, but they were also lined in blue — perhaps an inspiration drawn from Chanel Spring Couture — at Temperley London, Giles, and Creatures of the Wind.
Narciso Rodriguez skipped the line and dusted eyes with a fine powder of luminescent mint, while lids were coated in citrus yellows at Altuzarra and Prabal Gurung.
It clearly won’t be a proper fall without big, thick eyebrows like the ones at Prabal, Bottega Veneta, Christopher Kane, Giorgio Armani and Zimmermann, but Alexander Wang and Marc Jacobs might possibly be foreshadowing spring ’15 by way of a few brows that were barely there.
Both hair and makeup were Monica Vitti-mod at Gucci and Versace; then at Prada — always the one-off — eyelashes were coated in style of 1960’s Twiggy.
Raggedy Ann red was the most prominent hair color by way of the suddenly-everywhere model Natalie Westling, who made noise this season by letting her tresses talk at Prabal, Giles, Anna Sui, MBMJ, Jonathan Saunders, Max Mara, Fendi and Vera Wang.
Last but not least, foreheads were gold at Simone Rocha and Pucci, where I almost made a Midas-touch pun but then got worried you might sack me with a bag of potatoes if this went on any longer.
So there are beautiful clothes, and then there is beautiful beauty, and while a time may come that I too eschew mascara and blush in favor of balm and shoes, it will be nice to know the colors are always there on the runway if I need it.
And should I choose to smack my forehead with gold dust, so be it.