With the return of fashion month in full force for SS23 came beauty teams delivering look with all guns blazing: think bright pops of neon in unexpected places, faces full of glitter and towering Barbie blowouts in candy-coloured hues. At a time where the cost of living crisis, political turmoil and global warming are all at the forefront of our minds, beauty’s mood for joie de vivre offers a (brief) respite from the impending winter blues.
But, when the human world is a mess (to quote everybody’s favourite animated crab), it’s only natural to set our sights on the ocean. Its sheer vastness and mystery have inspired literature; at once a symbol of serenity and destruction, the sea is home to creatures that mesmerise and haunt. It’s this duality that served as inspiration for beauty looks spotted across SS23 runways from New York to Paris.
Dewy skin (a staple for all seasons) took on a life of its own when paired with equally sheeny lips and high-gloss eyelids at Missoni and Atlein. At Antonio Marras, make-up artist Luciano Chiarello focused on ‘intensely juicy skin to enhance every woman to the maximum.’
It was all in the prep for Chiarello, using a skincare cocktail of Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Serum with Marula Oil, before going in with a tinted moisturiser and concealer from NARS. For that glistening, water nymph skin finish, Chiarello opted for oil over conventional highlighter on cheekbones, eyelids, Cupid’s bow and the slope of models’ noses.
As the rest of the human world looks to Y2k for fashion references, the ocean was no different, with a sense of noughties nostalgia, a time where mermaidcore reigned supreme, running throughout shows. For NARS Lead Artist, Rachel Hardie, the trend also reflects the rise of interest in skincare post-Covid. ‘This trend is great for versatility as it suits almost everyone. The goal is your skin but better, with amped up hydration. We want to look glazed, not greasy,’ explains Hardie, who recommends a mattifying primer just around the nose and hairline to minimise excess shine.
The accompanying caught-a-splash hair completed the mood, with forehead-clinging flyaways at Antonio Marras lending a romantic feel, while Dries Van Noten’s shower-fresh, combed back ‘do felt refreshingly cooler than the ‘wet hair’ looks of seasons past. ‘The wet look has long been a runway favourite,’ says hairstylist and founder of This Hair Of Mine Cyndia Harvey. ‘The high-shine finish is super impactful on the runway and always feels modern if done well. It adds a point of view without being too conceptual and is extremely versatile.’
Both Harvey and Sam McKnight (the man behind the hair at Dries) rely on a strong-hold gel to achieve the style. For IRL styling, hairstylist Adam Reed recommends mixing your gel with a small amount of hair oil for a non-crunchy feel that’s gentler on hair and washes out easier.
Face gems also made a return for a look that Ariel herself would approve of. Speaking on Edward Crutchley’s London presentation, make-up artist Michelle Dacillo notes that ‘there was a movement from land to sea in the collection’, which led to models sporting jewel-embellished temples using crystals from the Crutchley’s pieces for a look that Dacillo described as ‘shimmering, wet and encrusted.’
Elsewhere at Roberto Cavalli, skin shone with an otherworldly pearlescence while models with sparkly decolletage in gilded seashell bras walked the sandy, seashell-strewn runway of Blumarine as designer Nicola Brogano, a self-professed The Little Mermaid obsessive, presented a grungier iteration of the sea princess.
But an Ariel without her Ursula would be far less interesting. Lurking between mermaid waves and blinding cheekbones, Diesel and Dion Lee delivered darker takes on the trend with seaweed green glitter worn abundantly from the forehead down and dual-tone scales respectively.
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