Welcome to Artist Spotlight #47 series on my blog.
This past week on Instagram, a few muses welcomed spring with colorful eyeshadows. Model Pooja Mor glistened under the sunlight, wearing turquoise eye shadow and a big smile, while model Chloe Yu had her lids saturated in blue and pink, thanks to makeup artist Michael Anthony (and the Pat McGrath Labs Subversive palette!). Then, embracing aquatic shades, “Versace Hottie” Precious Lee reported “for duty” in a cobalt blue shadow and Barbie Ferreira sported a blue smoky eye courtesy of Sam Visser.
More standout eye makeup came by way of Aweng Ade-Chuol, who graced feeds with artfully drawn black winged liner, full lashes, and bronzed cheeks, as well as Tracee Ellis Ross, who had thick, sooty swipes of eyeliner frame her upper and lower lash lines, with soft curls grazing her forehead.
Meeting the arrival of warm weather, Erykah Badu leaned into her light with a swipe of terra-cotta lipstick and the VanJess sisters were feeling peachy keen with blushy cheeks and pink manicures. Activist, writer, and cultural organizer Raquel Willis donned a red lip and sleek waves, and gave us all a much-needed reminder to let “the sunshine in.” As for Carly Cushnie? She ushered in International Women’s Day by celebrating the strong women around her. “I couldn’t be prouder to be a mother to my girls and [am] so grateful for everything they have taught and continue to teach me,” she wrote in a caption. “Thank you to all you incredible women out there. What an honor to be a woman.”
You will have spied Italian actor Sophia Loren in British Vogue’s April issue as part of the Hollywood Portfolio, which features 27 of the world’s biggest stars. Photographed looking as glamorous as she has always been, the 86-year-old silver-screen legend has long been a fan of a glamorous look and her attitude to beauty is refreshing. She once said:
“Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical.”
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #45 series on my blog.
It only goes to show that Loren feels as good on the inside as she externally looks. Her penchant for Italian glamour has always been a whole beauty mood – it is timeless. There is the trademark feline flick and voluptuous eyelashes; the bold lipsticks, from red to pink; glamorous blow dries; and her bold eyebrows, expertly filled in. These are looks that many of us still imitate today and she is regularly name-checked backstage at fashion shows. Here, let’s take a look at some of her most show-stopping vintage beauty looks over the years.
At a time when mask-wearing is de rigueur, it’s no surprise that, where makeup is concerned, our attention has turned to enhancing the eyes. The distracting, spirit-lifting power of exploring new looks should not be underestimated, and from lashes to lids, and even temples, options abound.
Val Garland, makeup artist and Vogue contributing beauty editor, agrees. “Now the eye area has become our focus, it’s all about liner, lashes and brows,” she says, before singling out the graphic look of the 1960s. “Get your flick on, but switch the black and brown for navy or rich forest-green. Perfect your brows and flutter your lashes with mega volume – the strong nature of this makeup is what makes it so appealing.”
The Vogue archive holds a wealth of inspiration for looks to emulate, so here, for your delectation, is an illustrated retrospective highlighting creative expression through makeup. Look to those graphic ’60s looks, the abandon of the 1970s, the freewheeling freedom of the 1980s or the makeup magic of the modern day. This is your ultimate moodboard – and it’s a place where imagination knows no limits.
One of the earlier illustrative examples of eye makeup in Vogue, this now iconic image serves as a reminder to never forget the drama of a single sweep of colour.
Legendary makeup artist Barbara Daly created this heavenly look, applying frosted blue “halos” around the eyes to ethereal effect.
Influenced by the makeup of the 1970s, Pat McGrath, Vogue’s beauty editor-at-large, created this shimmering aquatic moment on model Adwoa Aboah for Edward Enninful’s inaugural edition as editor-in-chief.
Grace Coddington, now a British Vogue contributing fashion editor, stars as the muse for this portrait, which sees maxi lashes and exaggerated winged liner take centre stage (with hair by Christopher at Vidal Sassoon).
Get the look: layer up an excess ofGucci Mascara L’Obscur, £40, on both top and bottom lashes, tracing in extra lashes on the lower line for added drama.
Why not look to sequins and pearls to accessorise the lower lash line, like model Marika Green? Appliqué accents instantly prettify any makeup.
Finding an eyeliner that stays put it is no easy feat, even among those marketed as long-wearing or waterproof. That difficulty gets heightened a thousand-fold (no pun intended) when you’re trying to do makeup for hooded eyes, where a bit of skin hangs down over your eyelid crease and makes your eye makeup transfer with a single blink. But according to celebrity makeup artist Gita Bass, who counts Olivia Wilde and Elizabeth Olsen as clients, this annoying makeup issue has an easy fix.
On Instagram Bass posted an incredibly simple way to make eyeliner last on hooded eyelids. Her caption begins: “When you spend four hours doing liquid eyeliner because you can’t see close up without your glasses anymore, and then your liner transfers to your lids because they are hooded, and gravity is pulling them down!! Aaahh!!!”
And then the magic happens. Bass whips out a small brush and dabs it onto the wand of Hourglass’s clear Arch Brow Shaping Gel, then uses the brush to go over her majestic winged liner. She explains, “This is an amazing hack to help set the liner,” but cautions to only do it once you’re happy with the liner’s shape, because once it’s set, the line is hard to manipulate (a good thing).
The technique is genius, leaving Debra Messing in the comments wondering, “Why didn’t you tell me!?!?” and others saying they’re going to try the tip because they face the exact same problem. On Reddit, the “Makeup for Hooded Eyes” forum counts 17,320 subscribers, where the issue is a common thread of discussion. One person writes, “I honestly got rid of all of my liquid liners because I couldn’t find a way to make it work for me,” while others have sworn off the liner category altogether.
Bass’s easy hack might be the path to revolution, especially if you opt for the Hourglass gel she mentions. On Ulta, shoppers write that it’s miraculous for lasting all day, and never flakes or makes your brows feel stiff, benefits that definitely transfer to its liner-setting use.
If you need something to apply it with, Morphe’s $4 angled brush racks up raves for being soft but strong, universally approved for both liner and brow use. And if you layer something like Stila’s Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner or Hourglass liner Bass uses with the gel, rest assured the combo’s not coming off for hours. Welcome back to the eyeliner fold — pun slightly intended.
As protective face coverings are still very much a part of our day-to-day life, the eyes will continue to be the focal point of our makeup looks. Whether you prefer a sharp cat eye or a fun graphic look, CoverGirl’s Perfect Point Plus Liquid Liner is as bold as it gets. Designed with an easy-gliding felt tip for smooth, quick-drying application that lasts up to 12 hours, it comes in three shades, Black Onyx (true black), Charcoal (slate gray), and Espresso (rich brown) to pair with every look imaginable.
Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish Ultra Glow Highlighter
Not only is the one-and-only Pat McGrath gracing the February Allure cover, but she’s also been busy behind the scenes bringing her latest Divine Rose II collection to life. Although every item, including the runway-previewed Mothership VIII Eyeshadow Palette, is sure to leave you breathless, I simply can’t wait to drench my skin in the ethereally rosy-golden Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish: Ultra Glow Highlighter in Divine Rose. This gel-meets-powder illuminator practically makes your cheekbones visible from outer space — and at the very least, spices up your Zoom dates.
BioBlender by EcoTools 100% Biodegradable Makeup Sponge
After years of research and development (alongside John Nanos, who holds a Ph.D. in organic polymer chemistry), the BioBlender by EcoTools 100% Biodegradable Makeup Sponge is finally available to the masses. Made out of just five vegan ingredients and packaged in 100 percent plantable paper, this eco-friendly beauty tool degrades within four months in a home compost setup, compared to regular makeup sponges that waste away in a landfill for over — wait for it — 50 years. It’s even embedded with a “plant me” message to remind you to do your part.
Originally launched in 2013, Giorgio Armani Beauty has finally launched a revamped Sí Intense Eau de Parfum that essentially feels and looks like a warm hug. Just look at that inviting, honey-like hue. Blackcurrant nectar, Isparta rose, and patchouli ramp up to the bottle’s most intense note, vanilla, making this the perfect cozy winter (or spring) scent.
If you prefer to cocktail your brow routine with different formulas, Kevyn Aucoin’s True Feather Brow Marker Gel Duo was made for you. Infused with mung bean and red clover extract to promote fuller-looking brows, the tinted marker is equipped with an ultra-fine brush tip to create precise, realistic-looking hairs and fill in sparse areas. On the flip side, an invisible gel fluffs up your filled-in (or naked) brows and provides flexible hold. Choose from four different shades: Ash Blonde, Warm Brunette, Brunette, and Dark Brunette.
Colourpop xAnimal Crossing: New Horizons Collection
Save up your bells because you’ll want to spend all of them on Colourpop’s hyped-up Animal Crossing: New Horizons Collection. Inspired by iconic characters, such as Tom Nook, Isabelle, and the Able Sisters, this latest beauty-and-video-game crossover is stacked with pink-, green-, brown-, and purple-themed eye shadow palettes in a variety of matte, matte sparkle, metallic, and pressed glitter finishes. If you’re looking for unadulterated glitz, you can choose between Balloon Pop Super Shock Shadow (a metallic pink-silver single eye shadow) and Bellionaire Glitterally Obsessed (a gold, self-sticking glitter gel) — or frankly, pick up both.
Rounding out the launch are two baby-pink and coral powder blushes reminiscent of the cosmo flowers and wildflowers found on the island. And whether you lean towards pink, coral, or caramel tones, you’re bound to find a fruit-tree-inspired Mini Lip Tint Duo that fits your mood to a T.
$7 to 12 or $125 for the full collection (Shop Now)
Glow Recipe Blueberry Lip Pop
Glow Recipe is no stranger to reformulating its products, and the Lip Pop is the latest to undergo an upgrade of its own. Now 35 percent bigger in size (3.1 grams to 4.2 grams, to get hyper-specific) and available in a permanent blueberry-infused shade, you don’t have to worry about ordering refills as frequently. This three-in-one wonder gently exfoliates, hydrates, and adds a gorgeous berry-pink tint to your lips. Go forth, swipe, and reap the multitiered benefits.
Velour Beauty Vegan Luxe Lashes is the brand’s biggest step towards going 100 percent mink-free in 2021. Swipe on a layer of adhesive glue or the Best of Beauty-winning Lash & Go Eyeliner and plop on any of the 13 new styles, like Run The World for a gradient lengthening effect or the spike-patterned She-E-O for extra drama. Just like that, you’re the proud owner of soft, fluttery lashes.
Patrick Starrr’s latest product, the One/Size Secure the Blur Makeup Magnet Primer, creates a mattified base that’ll grip onto your foundation for all-day hold. A powerful trio of niacinamide, witch hazel, and glycerin minimizes the appearance of large pores, evens skin tone, and controls shine, so all you’re in charge of is showing off your flawless beat.
As the newest addition to the faux freckle family (which also includes Freck OG and Freck XL), Freck Noir was specifically created to complement mid-to-dark skin tones. Simply stamp on a small cluster of dots, and then, quickly tap your fingers on the not-yet-dry pigment to create subtle copies wherever you’d like on your face. If you’ve been in the market for a product that’ll change up your look with minimal effort, this is it.
Bésame Cosmetics The DisneyMary Poppins Collection
Although your makeup bag might not be magically bottomless, there’s definitely room for Bésame Cosmetics’ The Disney Mary Poppins Collection. Based on Mary’s signature floral design and actual lip and cheek colors used in the beloved films, the Practically Perfect Powder, Poppins Red Lipstick (rich red), and Mary’s Cream’s Rouge (dark pink rouge with a hint of coral) might just make you break out in song.
Formulated with a silk-like ester for a one-and-done kind of glide (no tugging involved), Lawless’s Forget The Filler Definer Liner checks off all of the boxes eco-conscious beauty lovers might have. It’s certified “Clean at Sephora,” sustainably sourced — it’s made out of FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council) wood — and vegan. You’ll find your perfect my-lips-but-better shade in Burnish (mid-tone nude with a hint of red), Coco (cool-toned deep brown), Honey Rose (pinkish-mauve), or Pink Sand (universal neutral pink).
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #39 series on my blog.
There are few makeup bags that haven’t, at some point, been graced by a Bobbi Brown product. A brand that puts making women feel (as well as look) good at its core, 16th of January marked the 30th anniversary of its inception. To celebrate such a lengthy time in the beauty industry, the brand has, excitingly, appointed makeup artist Hannah Murray as global artistic director.
“Bobbi Brown is a brand I’ve loved since I started as a makeup artist,” Murray tells Vogue over the phone. “It’s such a well-loved global brand, and we have very similar philosophies regarding embracing natural beauty and individuality, as well as empowering women. These are things I’ve been championing for a while so it feels like a very natural fit.” Take a peek at Murray’s Instagram page, and you’ll see image after image of luminous skin, playful details around the eyes and bold brows on models and celebrities alike. Her makeup is real, fresh, and a far cry from the heavy contouring and airbrushed skin that have become popular in the last few years.
All of which makes her an excellent fit at a brand known for its feature-enhancing (rather than covering) products, where she will be overseeing everything from the fashion shows Bobbi Brown sponsors and campaigns, to education and product development. She has had experience with the latter before, having worked on the (rather brilliant) Topshop beauty line when it launched in 2011.
“I’m essentially going to be the visual voice of the brand, and I think with everything that’s been happening in the world, it’s a really pivotal moment to see things with fresh eyes and build on Bobbi Brown’s heritage,” she says. “I’ve lived in New York for the last 10 years, and before that in London, and I very much understand both the American aesthetic and the European sensibility and aesthetic too – it will be interesting to see that merge, something I think will give the brand a freshness, too.” When it comes to new products, we can expect some “innovation, excitement and fun”.
Though she isn’t, like many of us, forced to sit on Zoom all day, Murray is keenly aware of the “giving, giving, giving” that is endless, exhausting meetings, and believes in the power of beauty – whether that’s pampering your skin or applying some mascara – to uplift a mood. “There’s something ritualistic about [skincare and makeup]. Just like fresh air and eating well, having five to 10 minutes to yourself to cleanse, put a mask on, massage your skin is so healing. I have a three-year-old boy, so grabbing those moments is grounding. We all need to take care of ourselves and have a bit of me time.”
As for the beauty trends she expects to be big this year? Here she shares three of her key predictions.
“Instead of applying 10 products just to walk out of the door [like we used to], it’s now about feeding your skin and making it feel fresh and juicy and plump and alive. That’s a feeling thing, as well as being about how you look, and it’s using texture rather than product. You can layer on balms – I often dab Bobbi Brown’s gorgeous Lip Balm on cheekbones as it really makes skin look alive, like spa-fresh skin.”
“I’m hoping we’ve moved on from baking and cut creases – I want to see skin, feel it, and let it breathe. Another of my favourite products is the Bobbi Brown Extra Illuminating Moisture Balm, which is a lightweight moisturiser that imparts a subtle pearlescent finish for a “flawless, hyper-real skin effect”.
“I think everyone now wants to look healthy, like they’ve been outdoors and not stuck indoors for three months! I’m thinking the beauty of a real flushed cheek and freckles.” Try the brand’s Pot Rouge, a buttery-soft cream blush which melts into skin seamlessly for a natural finish.
“Take cues from the ’90s and apply eyeliner to your waterline to tight-line around the eye. It gives a bit of definition but it’s not laboured over. Makeup should do the work for you, you want to wear products that are smart, easy to use and that work well for you.”
Just as Harris Reed’s clothing offers an important voice in the conversation around the way we define masculinity and gender identity in fashion, a limited-edition collaboration with MAC Cosmetics created by the 24-year-old British-American designer is set to redefine the way we approach makeup.
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #37 series on my blog.
“Beauty is fluid, beauty is for everyone and I can’t wait to see how people are going to use this collection to show their version of self-expression and fluidity,” Harris toldVogue, practically shrieking down the phone with excitement. “That’s what I’m super excited about.”
“My first experiences with makeup were with my friends at a MAC store getting ready for prom and it was the brand that I first saw putting make-up on ‘boys’’, they explain, citing MAC as the perfect partner. “For it to even trust me, and take on my strong-ass message of fighting for fluidity, I have to say, has just felt like the most beautiful partnership.”
One of Harris’s personal highlights to come from the collaboration is that it will enable their hundreds of thousands of followers the opportunity to own their own part of the Harris Reed brand and feel included in its wider message. “It’s such an emotional thing for me. I’ve been so incredibly lucky that millions of people have seen the things I’ve worked on and have been a part of, but have maybe until now they’ve not been able to buy into it. This is now something that anyone can get their hands on and be a part of. It doesn’t feel real, it feels crazy.”
The millennial-pink packaged collection is made up of four products, each of which offers a plethora of possibilities to play around with. A smudge of one shade into your hairline could work mixed with another swept over your eyelids for a trip to the shop – just as Harris did when creating the palettes. Though MAC has a history of being used by professionals, this collection has a level of tactility to it that the least acquainted with makeup can become quickly familiar with. The fact that there are no application brushes is deliberate – Harris prefers the human touch.
“It is very much about a playfulness and the joy of makeup,” Harris continues. “As someone who makes clothes that take a couple of weeks to produce, if I want to make a statement with makeup, it literally takes me seconds with a good lipstick or eyeshadow. As I have pushed this idea of a more fluid space in a more fluid world, I’ve really loved that makeup can always be that gorgeous icing on top. It doesn’t only complete the look but, it also completes the message, acting as that extra ounce of light to help radiate what I stand for.”
Much like their clothing, the inspiration behind the colours and products is a major meeting of eras and aesthetics, resulting in an overall “glam-luxe romanticism gone non-binary,” they say. “It is a mix between Studio 54 and rococo, but also think a full renaissance party. You can start with this very beautiful, very whimsical approach and then by the end you can end up with this Studio-54-inspired gold eyeshadow all over your face, even pushing up to the hairline.” Their hero product? A trio of lipsticks called ‘From Harris, With Love’ that reminds them of their first forays into makeup and looking at lipsticks with their mum as a child. “I know those are the ones that I will keep on me at a party, applying, applying and applying.”
Harris’s own approach to beauty and using makeup for themselves has shifted as their sense of self has grown — most notably after they started at Central Saint Martins, emerged in London’s creative scene. Yet they weren’t always so comfortable and forthcoming with using products for themselves. “Being around fabulously flamboyant people really pushed me in the way that I wanted to express myself in terms of my gender identity and being creative across so many areas,” they said.
“[Wearing makeup] has made me have a much more honest approach to my identity. Like anything, it can be scary if you’re not familiar with it. The minute I thought of makeup as a tool to use to send a message and spark a story, was when I started having a way more playful approach. It gave me a space to feel that everything was okay. It definitely was a journey and now I realise that you write your own rulebook.”
The four-piece collection is a small but mighty push for us all to rethink how we use and approach makeup. Harris doesn’t see using cosmetics any differently to employing a fabulous fashion accessory when putting an outfit together. “I think if I, and this collection, can be of any influence to make people look at makeup as a tool to be who you want to be, then that’s job done,” they said.
“Try and not think of makeup as something that makes you look ‘pretty’ and try and not look at it as something that you use to make yourself better, but to explore and enhance something within you. Use makeup as a tool to be your most authentic self.”
When it comes to creating the ultimate feline flick, look no further than Hollywood legend Audrey Hepburn. “Her almond eyes were synonymous with the winged eyeliner that adorned them, and the perfectly defined lashes that fluttered as she gazed through the window of Tiffany & Co, eating a croissant,” says Vogue make-up artist, Celia Burton. “When Alberto de Rossi died, Hepburn’s make-up artist of 25 years, she was said to have declared she’d rather not work again. A perfect tribute to the enormous role that make-up — and the man applying it — had played in her career. Legend has it that de Rossi would apply mascara and then separate each individual eyelash with a safety pin to emphasise her doe eyes.”
Indeed, famed for her feminine brows and signature cat-eye, Hepburn’s was a beauty that surpassed all others. And one that will be under the spotlight once more thanks to a new documentary on the Breakfast at Tiffany’s star. Masterminded by the same BAFTA-nominated team behind 2018’s McQueen, a film about Alexander McQueen, Audrey takes an intimate look at one of cinema’s iconic actresses, featuring never-seen-before footage as well as interviews with her son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer, Givenchy’s former artistic director Clare Waight Keller, and Tiffany & Co design director emeritus John Loring. Though the film promises to uncover the woman behind the red-carpet glitz and glamour, focusing on the psychological effects of her difficult upbringing, it will no doubt bring some of her iconic beauty looks back into focus, too.
To mark the occasion, Vogue make-up artist Celia Burton breaks down the steps to recreating Audrey Hepburn’s signature cat-eye flick.
Step 1: use liquid eyeliner to mark the position
Look straight into a mirror, with your chin lowered. Consider your eye shape, and use a liquid liner — my favourites are Glossier Pro Tip or Voyeur Waterproof Liquid Liner by Hourglass — to mark out with a dot or dash where you want the ‘flick’ to finish. For the Hepburn effect, I recommend a sharp, squat flick, angled upwards and outwards from the end of the lash line at 45 degrees.
Step 2: drag the eyeliner across the eye
Tip your head back, so now you’re looking down at the mirror, and drag the liner across the eye from the inner corner, staying as close to the lash line as possible. Always have a cotton bud and oil-free make-up remover to hand, to neaten as you go.
Step 3: connect the dots and thicken up
Stop when you reach the end of the lash line, return to looking straight into the mirror, and join the dots from the marked spot to the main event. You can leave this skinny, as a subtle flick, or thicken it out at the wing — just make sure to keep the 45-degree angle.
If you prefer your liner soft or blurred, use a gel-liner pencil in the same way — my favourites are Charlotte Tilbury Rock ’N’ Kohl pencils or Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Eye Crayons — and smudge it along the lash line with a brush or finger before it sets, then tidy up the bottom of the flick with a cotton bud and oil-free make-up remover.
From Dior and Chromat to Chloé and Valentino, winged eyeliner dominated the SS21 shows, in bright colours, graphic lines, and geometric shapes. Today, the feline-inspired beauty go-to is highly individualistic and takes many forms — but where did it all start?
The cat-eye flick is undoubtedly one of the most powerful makeup statements of all time. The sultry, feline-inspired beauty go-to has been made a style signature by many, from the queens of ancient Egypt to its modern-day incarnations at the SS21 shows of Dior, Valentino, and Chloé.
From cultural traditions to famous interpretations worn by screen legends Sophia Loren, Ava Gardner and Elizabeth Taylor, Vogue charts the fascinating history of the iconic winged-eyeliner look.
The origins of the cat-eye flick
The cat-eye is one of the oldest makeup tricks in the world, dating back to ancient Egypt (from 3100 BC to 332 BC). The look was said to have been made popular by the likes of Nefertiti and later, Cleopatra, who used minerals such as copper ore and malachite to create either thick lines etched from the eye upwards to the hairline, or little flicks that stretched out parallel to the brow. The style was also popular among men, as exemplified by Pharaoh Seti I.
According to beauty historian and Makeup Museum co-founder Doreen Bloch, kohl and minerals were worn around the eyes for health reasons. “Kohl had immunological and antibacterial properties that supported eye health and minimised glare from the sun,” she tells Vogue.“So, ancient Egyptians, especially the ruling class, would use this cosmetic for health benefits, and lined their eyes accordingly.” Samples of makeup from ancient Egypt on display at the Louvre were found to contain nitric oxide, which is said to help revitalise the immune system.
As well as for health reasons, women wore a cat-eye as a way of warding off evil spirits. “Women used kohl liner for centuries as protection against the evil eye,” says Makeup Museum co-founder and celebrity makeup artist Rachel Goodwin. “But, like most things, the practice evolved into a way of signifying social status, eventually becoming the ultimate sign of beauty for both women and men of all ranks.”
Though the idea of the cat eye is believed to have its roots in ancient Egypt, there were also both subtle and extreme forms seen in men and women in ancient Asia and the Middle East, dating back to 3000 BC. In the latter, for example, crushed-up kohl (made from lead sulfide and other minerals mixed with water) was used around the eyes as a means of protection from the harsh desert climate.
A re-emergence in the ’20s
In the west, the story of the cat-eye as we know it began in the ’20s, with inimitable French entertainer Josephine Baker wearing the style during her intoxicating dance performances. Elsewhere, actresses Louise Brooks and Greta Nissen wore it for their red-carpet appearances, teamed with high-volume lashes and skinny brows.
“The discoveries of items from ancient Egypt [in the ’10s and ’20s], such as the bust of Queen Nefertiti, put styles and looks from a bygone era into the public consciousness,” explains Bloch. “Movies such as 1917’s Cleopatra,starring Theda Bara, showed the cat-eye worn by a modern-day superstar. As cosmetics became more acceptable for use by mainstream women, eyeliner became more prevalent.”
The look brought about a sense of theatre, mystery, and exoticism, which tied in with the rebellious flapper fashion of the time, as women were shedding their restrictive garments and cutting their hair short. During this period, soot and Vaseline were mixed together to create the eyeliner.
Recreated by mid-century icons
The cat-eye was the style du jour during the ’50s and ’60s, with women making it part of their everyday style. Less dramatic than that of the ’20s, pin-up icons such as Hedy Lamarr would wear subtle, skinny flicks of winged liner both on-screen and off.
The ’50s saw the mass production and commercialisation of makeup, and the invention of liquid eyeliner. “That innovation, plus movie makeup artists Max Factor, Ben Nye and the Westmores using the style on Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, and Audrey Hepburn, helped define a whole new era in beauty,” says Goodwin.
In Italy, some of the biggest movie stars of the ’60s, such as Sophia Loren, captivated audiences with their own version: swiped-on inky black, with heavy lashes and dark brown or blue shadow worn to the crease. “There’s a vintage ’50s advertisement from beauty brand Borghese, which speaks to Italian women about ‘a new eye look called ‘cat’s eye’,” explains Bloch.
Meanwhile, British model Twiggy gave the look a space-age twist with her graphic lines and feathered lower lashes. There was also Elizabeth Taylor, whose turn as Cleopatra in Hollywood’s 1963 epic only reinforced its overwhelming popularity. And, finally, model Pattie Boyd, who in 1965 wrote a beauty column for US magazine 16, on how to perfect the subtle cat-eye flick.
Sweeping through music and youth culture
The cat-eye took a turn in the ’70s and ’80s as youth culture exploded, with punks, goths, grunge lovers, and metal fans taking the look and making it their own. Blondie’s lead singer Debbie Harry wore a smudgy, messy cat-eye in the ’80s, and her fans followed suit, as did fellow rockstar Pat Benatar.
Style pioneers Grace Jones and David Bowie played with feline shapes and mixed new colours with bolder lashings of blush to amp it up even more. Bowie was known to use Indian kohl around his eyes, often lining the lashes and sweeping up slightly. “I always had a repulsive sort of need to be something more than human,” he once told Rolling Stone of his makeup application.
Elsewhere, Siouxsie Sioux experimented with sharp lines and graphic shapes, as did Robert Smith of The Cure. Egyptian actress Soad Hosny was also fond of a feline flick, as was China-born Singaporean star Gong Li, especially in the early days of her career in the ’80s and ’90s.
By the time the 2000s rolled around, the cat-eye was divided into two camps. Amy Winehouse took the classic look and blew up its proportions with a heavy-handed wing that extended past the eyebrow. Other celebs, such as Lauren Conrad on US reality TV show Laguna Beach, went for a much more subtle version.
“The early 2000s became a time in the world where there was suddenly a lot of nostalgia for the Golden Age of Hollywood,” says Goodwin. “Women such as Gwen Stefani and Dita Von Teese began paying homage to their beauty icons. The cat-eye was moved forward and reframed through a reverent and rebellious lens.”
Iterations on the runway and social media
Today, makeup artists such as Pat McGrath, Fatima Thomas, and Isamaya Ffrench are refining the shape for a modern generation. At Chloé spring/summer 2021, McGrath lined the models’ eyes in a smoky, sultry, elongated cat eye, which extended from the bottom waterline. Meanwhile, at Chromat, Thomas did duochrome neon in cobalt blue and highlighter green.
For Dior, Peter Philips executed a thick yet minimal look that wrapped around the entire eye. At Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood, Ffrench used exaggerated white-and-black pigment and drew ’80s-inspired winged lines towards the temples. Makeup artists are taking the humble cat-eye to new heights, making it both customisable and adaptable to the prevailing mood of whoever is wearing it.
On social media, beauty Instagrammers such as Juliana Horner create works of art based on the simple cat-eye, as does directional makeup artist Rowi Singh. A search for ‘cat-eye’ on Instagram gets 2.6m results, proof of its popularity, and you’ll see the classic shape covered in rhinestones, red and orange flames, cloud motifs, chunks of glitter, and even flower petals.
“The biggest evolution of the cat eye is that unlike past eras where it symbolised social status or conformity, it now symbolises the total opposite,” says Goodwin. “The cat-eye of today is much more versatile, and it moves with ease between classic beauty applications and subculture with absolutely no irony.”