Sarah Silver

Spring 2019’s Pearl Makeup Trend Has Been Centuries In The Making

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Diamonds may glisten and gold may gleam, but the regality of pearls can’t be disputed. The “queen of gems” is one that holds historical significance — legend has it that Vitellius, a general during the Roman Empire, financed a whole military campaign by selling a single pearl earring… and that Cleopatra crushed a pearl into a glass of wine to prove that she could throw the most expensive dinner in history. These days, you don’t necessarily have to drink your gems — or even wear them around your neck — to be as elegant: spring 2019’s pearl makeup trend, plucked straight from the runway, is one that everyone can get in on. No wartime required.

“Maybe we’re moving away from makeup as an accessory,” makeup artist Tiffany Patton tells TZR. “We’re taking it a step further now. Makeup is our jewelry. Pearls don’t have to be a delicate Jackie O. thing. And makeup doesn’t just have to be simple and beautiful. It’s a statement. And the pearl makeup has its own quality of femininity that’s stronger than ever before.”

Take Adeam’s Fall/Winter 2019 show, for example. Celebrity manicurist Mei Kawajiri and her team spent 12 hours creating 500 nail tips with hand-placed pearls to compliment the single pearls that NARS’ Global Artistry Director Sada Ito placed on the inner corners of the models’ eyes. Looks like these, according to Patton, aren’t just meant to be gazed at… the art is in the fact that these looks move with you. (Just don’t forget the eyelash glue.)

That’s not to say that you need a dedicated team or the skills of a professional to replicate the runway your way. With inspiration from Patton, hairstylist Yoichi Tomizawa, and manicurist Elizabeth Garcia, you can give the world’s oldest gem a brand new spin, too. See how it’s done, ahead.

Ulla Johnson Dress, Plutonia Blue Hair Pins, Catbird Small Hoop, Faris Earrings.

All throughout Fashion Month 2019, many makeup artists opted for a natural, dewy glow rather than a harsh, obvious line on the cheekbone. So instead of using a powdery formula with a whole lot of fallout, Patton brushed on MAC Cosmetics Cream Colour Base in Shell, a soft pink beige with shimmer, on model Brionka Halbert’s cheekbone. And on the lids, she applied Dior Beauty’s 5 Couleurs Wild Earth Limited Edition palette in 786 Terra with a wet brush for high shine.

Christian Dior Dress, Christian Dior Earrings, Washed Ashore Pearls (in hair), Foe and Dear Hair Clip.

Hair accessories were all over the place this season — a barrette here, a scrunchie there. Now, it’s time to take it one step further, and you don’t have to have straight or wavy locks to get in on the fun, either. To assemble Halbert’s low plait, Tomizawa separated her waist-length box braids into three sections, crisscrossing them over each other and securing it with elastic at the bottom. The simple style, however, served as a base for the glamorous accessories. Keep in mind that you don’t always have to use traditional pins and barrettes; Tomizawa loved a bracelet so much that he utilized it as a makeshift crown. As for makeup, Patton used the same product on Halbert’s lips, lids, and cheeks: Dior Addict Stellar Shine in 535 CD Dream, applied with a fluffy brush.

Christian Dior Earrings.

Before applying the decals, Patton took note of Hilbert’s freckles, placing them squarely on her spots. She dabbed a tiny bit of eyelash glue on the back of the decals using a Q-tip, and let the adhesive sit for a couple of seconds. “You want the glue to be tacky,” she instructs. “Otherwise, they’ll fall off.” And don’t think that a look like this is only meant for festival grounds. “This is Met Gala-worthy as much as it is Afropunk,” Patton says. “I could easily see these worn with a massive gown.”

Aisling Camps Top, Faris Ear Cuff, Catbird Small Hoop, Mary MacGill Studs, Plutonia Blue Rings.

Maybe a face full of pearls is too much of a lewk for your 9 to 5 hustle, but Patton envisions this as an alternative to your Friday night cat-eye or glittery cut crease. “Look down when you apply the stones,” she instructs. “And keep your eyes open. Your eye puckers when you close.” To ensure that the stones were placed correctly, the artist borrowed a GLTECK Practical Nails Diamond Picker from Garcia. “Holy s--t, this tool is good!” Patton exclaims. “It really helps set the rhinestones on the skin with precision.” And because the pearls provided so much shimmer, Patton hardly needed any foundation… but she did hide the model’s dark circles with NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Medium 2, which provides a healthy glow (rather than a harsh glisten).

3.1 Phillip Lim Top, Catbird Small Hoop, Lili Claspe Earrings.

Inspired by Laura Harrier’s floral-adorned baby hairs done by Nena Soul Fly, Tomizawa applied Smooth N’ Shine Gellation Styling Gel on Halbert’s hairline with a tint brush to create delicate swirls. On the tail ends, he used a pair of tweezers to dot a series of pearls onto the tails. As for those gloriously glossy lips? A few light layers of Shiseido Crystal Gel Gloss did the trick.

3.1 Phillip Lim Top, Catbird Small Hoop, Lili Claspe Earrings.

Rainbow polish, Picasso nails, and other buzzy nail art trends in recent history shouldn’t get all the shine. Your fingertips are canvases, too. Using a rhinestone picker, Garcia carefully placed pearl stickers in between Halbert’s fingers. And granted, maybe this particular look isn’t the most practical for everyday wear… but the iridescent oyster nail polish (J. Hannah’s Akoya, to be exact) deserves to be worn on all occasions.

The Frankie Shop Top, Lili Claspe Bra, Plutonia Blue Hair Pins, Carole Lee Cuff, Catbird Small Hoop, Faris Earring.

Believe it or not, but this bun — inspired by the shell-studded updos at Chanel's Metier d'arts 2019 Show — was assembled without the help of an elastic... the perfect low-effort hairstyle for a hot day when you don’t want your hair on your neck. Tomizawa scooped Halbert’s braids up as if he were creating a high ponytail, then twisted the base into the shape of a chignon, securing with U-pins along the way. Fun fact: Tomizawa pinned an earring in the middle of Halbert’s bun rather than a brooch or a barrette.

Photographer: Sarah Silver | Model: Brionka Halbert/NEXT | Stylist: Mecca James-Williams | Hair: Yoichi Tomizawa using R+Co at Art Department | Makeup: Makeup by Tiffany Patton using Dior Beauty and Practical Nails Diamond Picker | Manicurist: Elizabeth Garcia using Essie | Art Director: Becky Brown | Junior Art Director: Shanelle Infante | Bookings Manager: Guillermo Perez | Photo Editor: Clare Thigpen