There Is No Spoon

Once upon a time, way back in the long, long ago, makeup trends were defined by what only a handful of major, luxury clothing brands were sending down their runways or working out with magazines.   Clear, across-the-board looks and/or focus features seemed to be cohesive.  If you’ve ever wondered how we were ingrained with the “Pastels for Spring, Darks for Fall,” idea, this was more or less it. 

The landscape has changed.  Dozens upon dozens (into the hundreds) of designers now show every year between New York, Paris, Milan, and London, each one trying to make their mark.  If you look at Vogue.com’s beauty trends for AW 2014, big lashes are in.  No, wait–no mascara at all is in.  Statement hair is in (what is that, even?), except they also say soft ponytails are in.  Long hair parted on the side, swept across the forehead is in, unless you have bangs, in which case bangs are totally in.  You like strong lips?  Fantastic!  Another trend!  But the pale, nude is back. 

Other than singular phenomenons that have been trending on their own in recent years (nearly all celebrity-driven, by the way), any given fashion season can point to at least a dozen runway shows with just about any look you want to sport as a feature.  Cosmetic collections are increasingly fragmented, trying to narrow and define what they think will move.  With each beauty season, you’ll see companies scrambling to catch up to the “now” trend that was not engineered by them, all while trying to anticipate–six to eighteen months ahead of time–which trends they are hoping to lead.  Entire corporate departments are devoted to such research, but they’d likely have similar luck throwing a dart at a color chart.  Braver companies–like Illamasqua–have tried to buck tradition in the past, going their own way entirely.  Although it has won them fans like me, a closer eye reveals they are also sighing and giving in to the fight.  Their “Once…” collection for AW 2014 appears to be a run of cream, neutral eye shadows and a softly iridescent gloss. 

Many cosmetics consumers enjoy being current, but the issue these days is it is hard to identify what current is.  When I worked for MAC, the “concealer brow” was all the rage…until it wasn’t.  When I left, upper management and senior artistry were still trying to beat it out of the old guard employees.  I worked a National event for Armani last week and–lo and behold–the national artist was teaching the customers the good ol’ concealer brow technique again. 

Everything old is new again, and frequently all at the same time.  Ignore the contradictory beauty editors:  there is no spoon. 

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