From Blue Eyeshadow To Pencil Thin Eyebrows Nineties Beauty Is Back At Couture Week

·3-min read
Photo credit: Matteo Gebbia - Imaxtree
Photo credit: Matteo Gebbia - Imaxtree

Real life couture shows have returned in all their opulent glory; Amongst the tailoring, the appliquéd gowns and silhouette-defining cuts, a distinct air of revival has suffused through the atmosphere.

From the resurrection of Balenciaga's couture line, to the re-emergence of the fashion crowd, to what could almost be perceived as pre-pandemic levels of normalcy (if such a word can ever be attributed to the chaos of fashion week), a comforting spirit of nostalgia entwined with the anticipation for new beginnings seems to be waiting at every catwalk turn.

The beauty missive among all of this? Couture delivered it quite clearly across the board: love it or hate it, a Nineties renaissance is underway.

Photo credit: Matteo Gebbia - Imaxtree
Photo credit: Matteo Gebbia - Imaxtree

Though the AW21 couture collections have so far invoked romanticism through cotton candy tulle at Giambattista Valli and countryside aristocracy at Dior, the beauty seemed to stand wholly indifferent to the nature of the garments, and instead took on its own throwback narrative.

At Armani Privé, baby blue shadows were swept across the eyes in a PJ Harvey homage, while glossy lips harked back to memories of liquid Lip Smackers and Lancôme juicy tubes stashed into school bags. 'Fresh pastel liners accentuated by a pop of pink and soft rosy blush transport retro hues straight into the future,' noted Giorgio Armani make-up artist Linda Cantello of the shows looks.

The eyes continued to draw focus across the shows, delving into grungier influences elsewhere. At Chanel, kohl liners stood distinguished against a base of softly lit matte skin. A washed-out red, almost bruised shade, was diffused on the eyelids and contrasted with heavy lines of black. Gothic grunge made its mark at Dior too, where creative director of Dior make-up, Peter Philips, traded out the obvious 1990s smokey eye for a modernistic interpretation with black and navy blue painted underliner.

Photo credit: Alessandro Viero - Imaxtree
Photo credit: Alessandro Viero - Imaxtree

Not all beauty looks associated with this era are destined to be welcomed back with open arms, but it's something that haute couture flexes its creative licence with anyway. Perhaps the most contentious beauty trend of the 1990s, the thinly-pencilled eyebrow, reared its head at Schiaparelli, drawing on the influences of Gwen Stefani (circa her No-Doubt era) and 1920s Clara Bow to bring the precise arches to new heights, signing off the look with a classic nude lip.

Photo credit: Schiaparelli
Photo credit: Schiaparelli

When it wasn't hidden under an Artemide Nesso-esque headpiece, the hair at Balenciaga adopted and elevated the 1990s heartthrob gel-drenched hair by slicking down middle partings with a decidedly wet-look finish. Slicked hair could be seen at Fendi and Dior too, while at Chanel hair stylist Damien Boissinot merged together influences of space buns, spiky mohawks and Dutch braids to create a hybrid style fit for a Spice Girls tour.

As we stand on the precipice of returning to the hedonism and escapism of the nightclubs so embodied by Nineties dance culture, there seems no better time to embrace the decade's beauty face-first, even if we are slightly surprised that the call came from couture.

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