By  on November 12, 2010

Call it a postrecession beauty sighof relief. On the spring 2011runways, there was an ease—and anoptimism—to the hair and makeuplooks not seen in years.

From cheery brights for lips and eyes to Seventies-inspired hairstyles that harkened back to that decade’scarefree ebullience, a new sensibility emerged, one verymuch in keeping with how real women want to look—and,as important, feel—today.

“I loved spring,” says Aerin Lauder, senior vicepresident and creative director of Estée Lauder. “It reallyappealed to me as a consumer and the way I wear fashionand beauty. It’s wearable and saleable.”

In both the clothing and the makeup, Lauder singledout minimalism offset by bright pops of color applied in astraightforward manner. Gone are complicated looks likean intricately shaded smoky eye in six shades of plum,replaced by less fussy styles like the bold stripe of orangeeyeliner that Estée Lauder’s creative color director TomPecheux did at Derek Lam. “We’re seeing a new wayto play with color. It looks easy to apply, and it’s not ascomplicated as a really defined eye,” says Lauder, whosefavorite look of the season was a Michael Kors mossgreen sheath. “Women are ready to have fun.”

Pecheux was far from alone in his use of bright color.Makeup artist Lucia Pieroni encircled eyes in a cloud of skyblue at Rochas, while Pat McGrath painted a vivid fuchsiaon the lids at Nina Ricci. Charlotte Willer, Maybelline New York’s global makeup artist, blended electric shades ofpink and orange for a bespoke lip at Z Spoke by Zac Posenand a bold cherry red at L.A.M.B., offset by a gold eye, andCharlotte Tilbury bathed eyes in lilac at Blumarine.

“It looked effortless on the face,” says MAC’s globalvice president of makeup artistry Gordon Espinet, ofTilbury’s purple peepers. “But what was cool was that shetook a color that we would traditionally think of as bridaland overly sweet and she made it look cool.”

The appearance of such colors now is not unexpected.“We are living through dangerous, difficult times, and weneed that lift, that something that gets us energized,” saysLeatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone ColorInstitute. “That’s color. Especially in beauty, color lets yoube a kid with a paint box again, giving a sense of abandonand the attitude ‘Let’s have a good time and create.’ ”

Eiseman notes that what feels particularly newthis season is the preponderance of unexpected colorcombinations. “The old rules, like never crossing warm andcool colors, are being thrown out,” she says. “Now, we’reseeing colors being used with their opposites, to create anintensity and make a statement.”

The idea of illumination and metallics was also adominant theme on the runways—from the strongsilver eyes that McGrath created at Prada to the all-over iridescence at Nicole Farhi to the preponderance ofblondes on the catwalk. Vasso Petrou, global marketingdirector of trends and innovation at P&G Beauty, hasdubbed this trend “divine tech.”

“It’s very futuristic and innovative, when real sciencebecomes fashionable and creates a new standard ofaesthetics,” says Petrou. “This look reflects a modern takeon the urban world, where high technology is embeddedbut still needs to feel intuitive and pleasurable, as with theiPad.” That translates into shine and metallics, she says,noting, “In hair color, it’s about the golden, silver and roseshades, and with makeup it’s a micro iridescence, perfectsmoothness, very futuristic.”

Still, it’s a futuristic feeling tinged with humanity, saysmakeup artist and Revlon global artistic director GucciWestman, who noticed a definite shift in skin finishes thisseason. “We all did this sort of exaggeratedly luminous skin,superluminous, almost cyber skin,” says Westman. “I sawit everywhere, starting in New York and ending in Paris. Ididn’t notice any foreheads that were powdered. It was a veryexaggerated healthiness and luminosity. It looked like all ofthe girls had an oxygen facial before they went on the runway.”

On the opposite end of the futuristic spectrum was theSeventies redux. “For those of us who lived through theSeventies, in retrospect, when we look back, we recognizewhat a fun and expressive time it was,” says Carolyn Holba,senior vice president of U.S. marketing for MaybellineNew York–Garnier. “Hopefully we won’t make the samefashion mistakes,” she laughs, “but there is that play on therunway that is very reminiscent of the Seventies.”

“The Seventies were a time of optimism,” agrees JanArnold, co-founder and style director of CND. “It wasidealistic and there was some whimsy. People want to feelgood today, and that era was fun and playful.”

Hairwise, that translated into Guido Palau’s frizzfest atMarc Jacobs and his big barrel curls at Sonia Rykiel. Makeup-wise, it meant a more sculpted face. “We saw a lot of thenude face sculpted and shaded to perfection,” says Espinet.“Bronzer was used to structure a face rather than bronze aface. It’s the kind of makeup a man would be blind to, butthere’s actually a lot there. It’s about using the skin color andvariations on the individual skin color to create a look.”

As seemingly opposite as the looks were, still thecommon thread remained throughout the season: theidea of effortlessness. “People don’t want to have to spendtoo much time or effort on their looks,” says celebrityhairstylist and Tresemmé spokesperson Mara Roszak.“It is sexier and more feminine to not look so done,”she continues, noting that she expects the trickle-downinfl uence to be quickly felt. “The runway is where weget inspired,” she says. “It’s what celebrities startto wear and what we see in magazines. It’s whatwomen want to look like today.”

 

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