From jewel tones and smoky eyes to bobs, bangs and pin-straight hairstyles, a slew of new beauty trends dominated the red carpet awards season this year.
All-Out, Old-School Glamour
What would a major red-carpet event be without classic, old-style glamour? Oversized updos, enormous buns, major makeup and some serious jewels to top it all off were the name of the game for many. It takes hours to execute a look like this—and that’s exactly the point. “I’m a huge fan of the Old Hollywood look,” says celebrity hairstylist Ted Gibson, whose clients include Angelina Jolie, Anne Hathaway and Joy Bryant. “On the red carpet, you want to make a statement. It should look more deliberate than not.” From Gwen Stefani’s Forties-inspired front roll to Mary J. Blige’s updo, Katherine Heigl’s finger waves to Hilary Swank’s one-sided swoop, this year’s old school, Hollywood-style glamour were deliberate winners, never overdone.
This year, the ponytail shed its simple, sporty origins for a more sophisticated milieu, showing up as a major style on a host of young Hollywood hotties. Fergie sported a spiraling style at the Grammys, Portia de Rossi a Lady Godiva-inspired style at the Oscars and Hayden Panettiere an all-out wavy style at the Globes. The common theme: texture. “I loved the ponytails,” says Vavoom celebrity stylist Mark Townsend, who created Reese Witherspoon’s looks at the Globes and Oscars. “I love to see texture in the hair.”
Bronze was by far one of the most popular makeup shades on the red carpet. But instead of the over-baked, tanorexic look of years past, this season the shade showed up as a sultry accent for the eyes, cheeks and even lips (see Scarlett Johansson at the Grammys). Makeup artists were unanimous about its versatility. “Bronze is very neutral and very glamorous,” says makeup artist, Chanel spokesperson and Nicole Kidman favorite Angela Levin. “You can do it with pale or dark skin. It’s elegant, understated and gorgeous.” Carol Shaw, who used bronze on Teri Hatcher, agrees. “Bronze looks incredible on the red carpet when the light hits it,” she says. “It’s healthy looking, but sexy, and a great way to still look natural yet made up. Best of all, it goes with any color you’re wearing.”
The Bird’s Nest
When it comes to awards season, beauty bloopers usually bear no relation to each other. But this year’s missteps all seemed to be a variation on a theme: the bird’s nest coiffure. A whirling dervish of whorls, swirls and curls, the gravity-defying style was a hit with recent Bond girl Eva Green, recent divorcée Denise Richards and musician Imogen Heap, who took the concept literally and accessorized hers with a profusion of foliage. Even the men, as evidenced here by hipster filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, got into the act, sporting a look most agree is strictly for the you-know-who.
When in doubt, cut it off. Some of Hollywood’s hottest stars did this year, adopting the bob as their favorite new style—and it paid off big time in red-carpet kudos. From Ashley Scott’s chin length version at the People’s Choice Awards to Janet Jackson’s shoulder-length style at the Billboard Music Awards, the bob looked fresh, modern and new. “The bobs looked fantastic,” enthuses Gibson, who says the number of women requesting the style in his New York salon is increasing exponentially. “It’s so fresh. It’s all I’ve been talking about over the last six weeks. We’re coming into spring and now is the perfect time to think about changing your hair,” he continues. “The bob is extremely hot.”
Keeping It Real
On the red carpet, natural doesn’t mean nothing. In fact, pulling off a fresh-faced look often requires more prep time and finesse than an all-out maquillage, points out Pati Dubroff, Dior’s celebrity makeup artist, who worked on Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet and Kirsten Dunst this year. “The makeup has to be natural but important,” she says. “It has to be well-structured and have definition. If it’s so natural that it’s wishy-washy, it’s not red carpet-worthy—it’s just day makeup.” Dubroff, who gave Winslet the ultimate natural look for the Golden Globes, says the key is meticulously applying each different element, making sure to give contour, shape and definition to the eyes, cheeks and mouth. And one final detail, Dubroff notes, is key. “Flawless skin,” she says, “is an absolute must.”
The smoky eye may be a staple on the red carpet, but this season makeup artists imbued it with a new twist: color. Grey and black, smoky eye staples, were instead replaced by a kaleidoscope of color, from hunter green on Felicity Huffman at the Globes to plum on Reese Witherspoon and shimmery mocha on Jennifer Hudson, both at the Oscars. “Last year’s smoky eyes were stronger and darker; this year’s were smokier and softer,” says Levin. As Dubroff points out, it’s a look that complements—rather than competes with—whatever gown an actress is wearing. “On the red carpet, the harmonization between the dress and face is so important,” she says. “Introducing subtle color enhances the feeling of the dress and one’s eye color.”
The curly girls were out in full force on the red carpet, from Shakira’s wild mane and Nelly’s shoulder-length style at the Grammys to the more tailored looks of Krya Sedgwick and Jennifer Hudson at the Globes. Tighter, shorter curls, as seen on Corinne Bailey Rae, also popped up. Curly as the styles were, though, they never looked unruly. “This year’s curls were much more controlled, not as much frizz and fuzziness,” says hairstylist Oscar Blandi. “Curly is sexy,” he continues, with one caveat. “To get a sexy curly look, you have to have a lot of hair. But you don’t want to be too over the top, because otherwise you have big hair. Everything has to be in proportion.”
There is no faster way to alter your look than saying to a hairstylist, “Let’s cut bangs.” Which is exactly what Reese Witherspoon said to her hairdresser, Vavoom’s Townsend, on the eve of awards season. He reports the actress “wasn’t nervous at all” about making a big change right before a major event. Witherspoon wasn’t the only red-carpet fixture sporting the style: Rosario Dawson, Eve, Kirsten Dunst and Mariska Hargitay all opted for fringe. “Many women still think of bangs as little girl bangs, cut all the way from one side of the head to the other,” says Gibson. “It’s not that, though. Today, bangs don’t have that severeness. Instead, they’re soft and bring focus to the eyes.”
The red lip is a red-carpet perennial and this year was no exception. Gwyneth Paltrow, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rachel Weisz and Nicole Kidman all opted for scarlet smackers at the Oscars, while Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet and Rihanna wore the shade at the Globes and Grammys, respectively. And no wonder. “This is the year for red lips,” says Levin, who created Kidman’s Oscar look. What makes red lips new again is the texture. Eschew the heavy, matte look of red carpets past for a lighter stain. “This is a modernized version of a vintage look,” says Levin. “Achieve it by using a redder lipstick, but going for more of a stain.” Or combine it with a pink cheek for a baby-doll look, as did Diaz. “You’ve gotta love that,” says Carol Shaw. “It’s great when people have fun.”
It was as if Hollywood’s leading ladies got together before the big night and collectively decided that straight hair should be the hot style du carpet. Reese, Gwyneth, Nicole and Jada at the Oscars, Beyoncé at the Globes, Ciara at the Grammys—not a wave or a curl (or a hint of frizz) among them. Credit the new wave of styling products, which makes stick straight hair the province of anyone, provided they have a flat iron, says Townsend, who created Witherspoon’s Oscar-winning look. “The key to long straight hair is that it looks healthy and we have the right technology to achieve that,” he says. Straight doesn’t mean flat though. What all of these looks had in common was body—not always a given with straight hair. “Reese’s dress had an actual flow to it and I wanted the hair to feel the same way.” Mission accomplished.