June 3rd, 2016
On a particularly English rainy Wednesday last month, we were lucky enough to be invited to MAC’s A/W16 Trends showcase at the stunning One Belgravia in London. The colourful and zany designs decorating the stage and venue gave us some idea of what’s to come, as we joined the crowd of eagerly waiting editors and make-up artists.
Terry Barber, Director of Make-up Artistry for MAC, led the presentation for what he called a very ‘reactionary’ season – the taking back of classic glamour shapes, the craft of shape and how it affects the face. He described the season as having split into two distinct camps: Strict -v – Loose. This modern state of beauty is full of contrasts – real -v- synthetic, ‘done’ -v- effortless – but all the while focusing on easily accessible and quick products. “Maximum beautification with minimal input or effort,” Terry declared.
Falling under the Strict banner comes the multitude of red lip options which always dominate A/W catwalks. Terry noted that looks still leaned towards the plum noir lip that has proved popular over the last couple of years. “It’s not a new look, there will always be red lips – but the shape is new,” he explained. Heart-shaped, exaggerated bow, ‘polite’ corners were what set the looks apart. Texture veered between matte and ultra-glossy vinyl.
“Technology is helping modern women to do classic glamour better,” according to Terry, as he explained the use of their Pro Longwear Liquid Lipcolour as a base to a glossy lip, giving it that pigment to anchor on to. The shiny lips tended to have a much more defined curve, with the matte options kept softer and less harsh. “Velvet” was how Terry described the skin, moving away from the ultra-matte finishes without veering into dewy to compete with the glossy lip textures. Chestnut and Mahogany lip liners were very popular to give the look of deep, almost tobacco lips when dark colours were preferred. At the other end of the colour spectrum you’ll find a lot of ‘80s Power Reds – the bright blue-reds that haven’t been seen for some time.
Debbie Finnegan joined Terry on stage to exemplify the Strict look with her razor-sharp, vinyl-mouthed model. She explained the layering process behind the lip in order to guarantee the intensity of the colour, using two different Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolours in High Drama and Feel So Grand. The nipped, tight corners and full centre was bang on trend, and coated in Lipglass for that vinyl effect. Debbie turned her attention to the skin then, explaining that skincare, rather than skin products, were what the artists were reaching for the most backstage in order to get the most real, post-spa like and plump skin. Their Time Check lotion and brightening range were used before light layers of Face and Body. “Knowing when to stop is the hardest part of being an artist,” she said, pointing out the bare eye which almost had a raw silk edge against the velvety skin.
Speaking of eyes, the Strict side of things also played with a lot of punky references. No-one was trying to re-invent the smokey eye – this was a return to the thin, piercing black eyeliner. Keeping the liner narrow was a particular trait, rather than letting it veer into chunky cat-eye flicks. Whether it was a single black line on the lashline or tightlining around the whole eye – “reminds you a bit of that teenage naivety,” Terry explained – the look was punky yet sophisticated. Describing the trend as like the black leather jacket topping a beautiful evening gown, Terry praised the strong yet feminine effect it gave to the face.
Dominic Skinner was next to join Terry with his liner look, reminiscent of the cool bad girls who hung out at the back of class, or never showed up at all. He highlighted how the look could be used to elongate the eye as the liner was so compressed, resting right on the lashline. Groundwork Paintpot provided the right amount of barely-there base, with his initial line etched using a mid-tone brown before tracing over with Blacktrack. Mascara topped off the look, but kept from appearing try-hard with uncurled lashes.
The teenage angsty, bitten lip was a natural counterpart. Lips were thoroughly scrubbed, letting the natural blood flush to the surface before being topped with sheer lipglass which was pressed on with fingertips to give a softer, lipbalm appearance.
The Loose demonstrations began with colour and glitter, but used in a very different way to previous A/W shows. These looks retained an airy feel which felt more akin to S/S looks. “We’ve reached quite an interesting place where women are interested in wearing colour again, like in the ‘70s, especially on the eye,” Terry explained, after years of neutral tones ruling the roost. Satin and velvet textures were the most prevalent in powder eyeshadows, with a rainbow mist of multiple colours appearing at multiple shows. Bright lid-hugging eyeliner was also present, in all colours under the sun, and glitter beads or tears were also seen – a real nod to the ‘70s glam trend, rather than the folksy side of the decade.
Claire Mulleady was the next artist to join Terry, showcasing her stunning ‘70s look. Clouds of pastel colour was used throughout the face, rather than being confined to particular aspects. There was nothing graphic or harsh about the misty greens and teals used on the eyes, courtesy of the new Pastel x 9 palette. The colour was brought out further than we’re used to seeing, hugging the whole eye area. Carefully applied glitter tears looked almost like jewellery, while the raspberry lip provided a pop of colour that wasn’t overwhelming. Retro Matte Lipcolour in Dance With Me was topped with a light touch of gloss she revealed as she discussed the reversal of playing up just a solitary, obvious colour.
Lesley Keane was the final artist to join Terry to discuss skin products. For the Loose trend it was all about transparency rather than a structured mask. Designers wanted to see the face underneath, to have the luminosity of real skin. The stained-glass effect wash of eye colours adorned the eye, rather than masking it in a smokey shadow. Brows were brushed up and filled in using their new Big Brow Pencils, a half-wax and half-colour hybrid which subtly fill and shape brows without looking done or heavily structured.
Terry described the return to classic ‘90s beauty make-up which was lightweight yet well-conditioned. Lip blushes are the new nude – flushes of natural reds or pinks yet nothing strong. We saw fresh colours, all with a natural tone to them, with diffused edges and a balmy shine which Terry attributed to the leaps and bounds made in lip make-up technology. “Think superconditioned, versacolour, a stain-gloss effect compared to the current statement, exaggerated lip. I don’t think we’ve ever sold so many Whirl lipliners,” he said, referring to the Instaglam-look of the Kylie Jenners of the world.
Lesley’s look epitomised this barely-there trend. Having taken inspiration from her model’s face, in particular her brilliant green eyes, she described how she mapped the make-up to the woman, rather than the woman to the make-up, almost like an anti-contour. “Rather than the ‘90s attitude of ‘If it’s not there then draw it in’, the way to keep it modern is to work on the individuality of the face,” she explained. The bronzed flush on the cheek was described as apres sexy and retained the natural hues we’d seen in the trend looks. Her lip was created with Mahogany lip liner which was lightly buffed out using a classic 217 brush, while the eyes were created using other old classics. Soft and Gentle highlighting powder was buffed on in light layers to give a gentle cloud of eye-opening shine and colour, while keeping it all very blurred and soft.
The legendary Marian Newman was the final guest to talk through the nail trends for the season, which also adhered to the Strict/Loose trends. Nudes were, “never nothing, always something. It might just be a beautifully manicured nail with a top coat, but it was never nothing.”
Natural nails were kept youthful and almost shell-like with a couple of very light layers of nude or soft shades. Reds, on the other hand, were either worn glossy, long and glamorous, or matte with some attitude – “mattitude, like that leather jacket analogy again.” Colours didn’t quite match the lips, but neither were they clashing. Almost-black colour flashes were also popular as was pared back nail art, such as a metallic thumb or half matte, half glossy nails. Clear tips were Marian’s new obsession, a twist on the ‘90s French Manicure look with transparent nail where you would expect the white, perhaps adorned with a delicate edge of gold on the very tip to catch the light.
The whole show gave an overwhelming feeling of comfortable classic looks with a twist – nothing felt unreachable or unwearable. With this unpredictable Summer weather, we’re more inclined than ever to jump ahead with the trends.