Looking at the makeup on the models walking the autumn/winter runways, you could have been forgiven for thinking that you were seeing a show from the wrong season. Pops of blue, flashes of orange and pink, dustings of yellow, green and lilac… the painterly palettes chosen by makeup artists backstage at shows such as Dries Van Noten, Gucci, Maison Margiela and Missoni were decidedly springlike. And so, too, was their application, which was as important as the spectrum of colour itself. Sheer watercolour washes gave the look a very accessible appeal.
“Transparency automatically makes colour more beautifying on the face,” explains Terry Barber, director of makeup artistry for MAC Cosmetics. “It takes away the fear of looking garish or retro, and it’s those fresh, plump washes of colour that allow you to be more playful.” Be it a halo around the eye, a new or unusual experimentation in lip colour, or a gentle tonal clash on both eyes and lips, using products in this way gives an end result that is much softer – and this is, according to Barber, the easiest and most flattering in-road to exploring technicolour choices. “Veils of colour that bring out the features rather than enclose them are the unsung heroes of makeup,” he says.
So what to make of this more romantic approach? “It’s a good time to break the seasonal rules and not resort to the classic earthiness of autumnal beauty,” says Barber. “Instead celebrate the colours of optimism and freshness. Can we say spring/summer is the new autumn/winter?” It’s a resounding yes.
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.”
Great makeup begins with great skincare. Prep your skin with CeraVe Moisturizer ($11; target.com), a lightweight daily moisturizer for normal to dry skin. Follow up with Estee Lauder Illuminating Perfecting Primer, ($38; nordstrom.com), a luminous face primer that hydrates and brightens skin for a dewy finish. The duo will ensure a flawless base that keeps makeup in place all day.
Concealer and Foundation
Beginners can eliminate the risk of caked-on foundation by adding an opaque concealer to their kit. L.A. Girl concealer’s ($3; walmart.com) creaseless formula camouflages imperfections, allowing you to use less foundation. When paired with Makeup Forever’s HD Invisible Cover Foundation ($43; sephora.com) no one will be able to tell where your skin ends and the makeup begins. Bonus: It lasts for 24 hours and comes in 50 shades.
Eyebrow Pomade and Spoolie Brush
Among the most important features on your face: Your eyebrows. Every beginner needs a tool like the dual-sided Anastasia Beverly Hills brush ($18; macys.com) to sculpt perfect arches. The brand’s Dipbrow Pomade ($21; sephora.com) is also a beginner favorite as it’s easy to apply, smudge-proof, and waterproof — so it’s great even for oily skin types.
Eyeliner and Mascara
For a beginner, skip the false lashes and go straight for an all-star mascara and liner combo. Tag-team Kat Von D Tattoo Liner ($20; sephora.com), which gives the illusion of thicker fringe, with a few swipes of Benefit’s They’re Real Lengthening Volumizing Mascara to add dramatic length ($25; sephora.com).
Nude and Red Lipstick
No kit is complete without a super versatile nude and red lip color that can take you from day to night. Try Chanel Rouge Coco Shine ($38; chanel.com) for a hydrating nude and MAC Lipstick ($17; maccosmetics.com) for a universally flattering bold red that stays put for hours.
Brushes and Tools
In order to put apply your makeup properly, you’ll need to use the right tools. The Beautyblender ($20; sephora.com) is perfect for effortlessly blending foundations, blush, and concealer. For precise eye makeup and dusting on powders reach for Sonia Kashuk’s brush set ($40; target.com).
Blush and Highlighter
Add healthy color and a subtle glow to your skin with a classic blush and highlighter. Nars and Becca have both created cult favorites that are must-haves for every kit. Nars Blush in Orgasm, $30; sephora.com. Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector, $41; sephora.com.
If you’re experimenting with eyeshadows, this Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Eye Shadow Palette ($42; sephora.com) is perfect for you. It offers a range of everyday nudes, plus a hint of bright colors to play around with.
Q-Tips and Makeup Wipes
Even pros make mistakes — and dabbing a Q-Tip ($3; target.com) into lotion is their secret for instantly erasing errors. And for those nights when you’re too lazy to wash your face, makeup wipes will be your best friend. Try Cleanse by Lauren Napier ($40; net-a-porter.com), which comes with 50 individually packaged wipes you can throw in your travel bag to use on-the-go.
Of course, these are the basics to help get you started. The more you work, you will realize the need for more products, textures, and colours. Some additional items to this list include: