Technically, the entire point of a fashion show is to look to the future. That’s why collections are presented in advance of the season in which people actually wear the garments, and it’s why so many designers and fashion houses use the shows as a means to showcase unreleased songs, futuristic nails and hair, and full-scale productions around alternative, often experimental themes. For the Paris couture shows, though, that idea seems to be much more literal. Alien makeup, along with robot-like touches, were all over the Parisian runways.
Many of the shows seem to be embracing more than a few references to futurism, unsurprising considering the state of the world — NFTs, mars missions, ever-evolving robotics, and self-driving cars are in our feeds and on TV, and steer international conversations as often as anything else these days. Fortunately, the beauty world’s take on high-tech is a lot simpler, prettier, and far less contentious than any of the above. This week on the runways featured plenty of glistening chrome touches, ultra-sleek hair, metallic finishes, and stark color contrasts.
Of course, it comes as little surprise that Pat McGrath herself would be behind so many of the futuristic makeup looks, leading the beauty efforts for shows like Paco Rabanne and Schiaparelli. McGrath’s eponymous line is steeped in futurism and space-travel themes — albeit mixed with plenty of more earthly motifs, too — with product names like Mothership, Interstellar, Celestial Odyssey, and Dark Star. At the F/W 22 Paco Rabanne show, a theme of futuristic superheroes yielded a Pat McGrath Labs-powered highlight so silvery and glossy that it reads almost cyborgian — especially against a sartorial backdrop of chrome sequins, hybrid materials, and satellite-like earrings.
Over at Schiaparelli, the interest in futurism continued with visual themes marrying sci-fi to religious iconography and Renaissance-like gilded touches. If this show is any indication, the future won’t have intergenerational battles over side-parts versus center-parts — there will simply be no parts. Models’ hair laid swept and cemented down circularly, obscuring any visible scalp in rich contrast to the golden halos many of them wore down the runway, or pulled back into conical swoops. Styled by Guido Palau, the show’s hair put the extra in extraterrestrial.
On the makeup front, McGrath’s work followed that dichotomy, with much of the makeup looking starkly alien-like in its feature-obfuscating minimalism — think androgynous eyes, bleached brows, and juicy, starlight-reflecting skin not of this world. McGrath even sponged concealer over the models’ lips in lieu of lipstick or balm to heighten the ET aesthetic.
Finally, the Dior Couture Spring/Summer 2022 show saw another blend of old meets very, very new as the models wore silvery hand-constructed mesh down a catwalk flanked by massive embroidery recreations of colorful Madhvi and Manu Parekh paintings. Here, the models’ makeup, designed by Dior’s own Peter Philips, features a snow-white reverse-eyeliner arc under each eye. Philips told press after the show that the white was chosen for its luminosity — and looking at it, the liner does indeed cast a celestial glow on the skin, a sharp contrast against otherwise minimalist makeup.
To get the fantastically futuristic looks at home, there are some simple ways to incorporate all of these techniques at home. To start, focus on a robot-approved color palette of silvers, whites, and obsidians — you essentially want to use only colors, undertones, and finishes you’d associate with a Macbook. Avoiding too much emphasis on the most “human” features of the face, like mouths and eyes, is also an easy shortcut to the look, as well as using products in unexpected ways just like Philips with the inverted eyeliner. You can even chalk up brows with a white pencil or streak your cheeks with a silvery eyeshadow.
Below, shop exactly what the pros used to make all of these cyber-fashion looks come to life.
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