Undone glamour : imperfect makeup

I am into a natural look when it comes to wearing make up , even though in the evening I do like a groomed and slick “perfect ” look .

I already wrote a couple of posts supporting a return to a more natural or invisible look , both in fashion and beauty . One post was called The Invisible Woman and the other was about neutral or uniform dressing or Men’s Stuff.   

Therefore I was very interested by this article in the weekend’s New York Times T Magazine ,where editor Sarah Nicole Prickett talks about the feel of the new hair and make up trends for this coming fall . “Undone” beauty is in the air , “imperfect” is the new perfect. When you google the words “undone make up”  there is for example a link to Nordstrom’s selection of beauty products that will help you achieve that new “undone ” look , and their choices are many. All this to say that it already feels like the trend is here to stay.  By what I also understand this new undone look now transcends the natural and goes at times  into more creative and free-spirited realms with a somewhat D.I.Y  vibe to it.

The imperfect or undone look was created this spring by certain hair and make up artists to contrast against the super-rich clothes shown on the autumn/winter 2014 runways of fashion houses such as Celine, Lanvin, Prada, Anthony Vacarello , Altuzarra . This new look off-sets the luxurious feel on the runways by giving the models an air of nonchalance when making them look deliberately disheveled.  The hair looked wet like you just walked out of the shower and used your fingers to pull it back and some of the girls at Louis Vuitton had messy unbrushed hair with dark roots and their makeup felt unfinished . Squiggly eye liner and clumpy mascara completed some of these looks.

So basically this new makeup and hair should feel a bit raw and undone and neither classic nor perfectly polished : off colors, dusty palettes, dirty hues, sludgy tones ….teal-blues, slates, asphalts and metallic browns abound.

Makeup artist Pat McGrath fleshed out the story line a bit more: “We were obsessed with the contrast of rich and poor,” she said, stressing the word “undone” when describing the beautiful burgundy-stained mouths she was drawing in darker toward the center of models’ lips and then diffusing outward with a clear balm. “It’s the shadow of formerly amazing makeup,”

to quote T Magazine : “Undone” is the enemy of “not done,” which is also known as the au courant “no-makeup look.”

And, as it turns out, an accidental example of a trend. Those also prone to putting on makeup in taxis, on subways and/or on one too many Ativans, will be pleasantly bemused to know that “imperfect beauty,” as it’s called in fashion circles, is a bona fide thing, as shown on the fall runways. At Lanvin’s fall 2014 show, Pat McGrath dabbed inky shadow, markerlike, above the lashline, while at Anthony Vaccarello, Tom Pecheux used dental floss to apply red and black squiggles that barely, just barely, resembled eyeliner. Mascara was caked on at Prada, buried in glitter at Altuzarra and left off altogether at Céline, where wet hair and taupe-ringed eyes evoked a fortnight-long bender just ended. In the usual close-ups of models’ faces taken backstage, the hand of the makeup artist was almost disconcertingly visible. You could see fingerprints on eyelids, even mouths. Again at Céline, nails were not only polish-free but uneven, certainly unmanicured. (Of course, youth permits all manner of beauty sins. If you’re not a 19-year-old model, you should try one “mistake” at a time. Rihanna got away with going to the 2013 American Music Awards with obvious tan lines and doobie-wrapped hair not only because she’s Rihanna, but because her makeup, nails and diamonds were neo-Hollywood flawless.)

Maybe the “undone” or “hand-done” trend is a way of saying “no thank you” to airbrushing in Photoshop, just as the recent vogue for rough ceramics and crafty abstraction in the art world is in part a rejoinder to artists like Jeff Koons who reproduce, en masse, the mass-produced. Or maybe it’s a simple acknowledgment that we’re most of us too busy to bother with the 26 precision tools a no-makeup look requires, and not hydrated, well-slept or content enough for a no-makeup reality. 

Either way, where I used to begin each day with a canvaslike mask of foundation, I now apply an uneven layer of tinted moisturizer. And sometimes I leave the permanent, bluish half-moons under my eyes untouched. I like to think this is my own interpretation of the novelist Junichiro Tanizaki’s “In Praise of Shadows,” an essay that discussed the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi that the design writer Leonard Koren later defined as beauty “coaxed out of ugliness.” And once in a while I feel emboldened to color outside the lines. I want to leave in more mistakes, to leave an impression more provocative than good. A face made up in a rush is also done for the rush of making it up, and for the childlike pleasure of showing that you’ve made it. As the American painter Cy Twombly said to the critic David Sylvester, “Paint in a sense is a certain infantile thing . . . I start out using a brush, but then I can’t take the time because the idea doesn’t correspond, it gets stuck when the brush goes out of paint . . . So I take my hand and I do it.”

I like it !  will try it !




the looks above are from the A/W 2014 collections : Prada, Lanvin, Celine,Marni , Victor & Rolf, Louis Vuitton.

Photos curtesy of Style.com and The New York Times T Magazine.

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