Proving that beige need not be synonymous with boring, this season’s take on the neutral makeup palette is both intricately nuanced and unexpectedly dynamic. Whether at the fall fashion shows, where makeup artists used shades of chocolate, beige, rose, taupe and tan to structure the face and create illusions of shadow and light, or in the seasonal color statements of various beauty brands, neutral tones are making a major comeback.
This story first appeared in the August 13, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“This color story is right for fall, because it’s very relevant for the times we are living in,” says Chanel’s creative director, makeup artist Peter Philips. “These shades don’t distract, they enhance. They are not ‘funny’ shades, no ‘follies.’ You can easily play with intensity, from delicate and light to dramatic and dark.”
“This was a season for pulling back, paring down and simplifying, both in fashion and beauty,” agrees makeup artist and Lancôme creative director Aaron de Mey. “Utilizing classic, neutral makeup shades allows the woman to be seen.”
For its part, Lancôme’s French Coquettes collection offers a metallic bronze lip, while Chanel’s limited edition fall Quadra Eyeshadow holds shades of copper and chestnut, offset by a complimentary pop of soft pink. Dolce & Gabbana’s fall color story includes a mannequinlike buff nail and creamy taupe lips.
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“The tones seen throughout fall 2010 are the same found in your natural skin coloration—beiges, taupes, pinks, ivories, chocolates, golds—these are the shades painters use to create portraits,” says de Mey. “They define, enhance and exaggerate the natural tones of the face.”
The result, continues de Mey, “celebrates the face rather than camouflaging it with too much color or decoration. It is also a return to ease, wearability and minimalism,” he says.
Such minimalism was in high demand on the runway, where sophisticated, sculpted faces complemented the strong lines and modernist bent of many collections. What made the look feel new (and fresh): a panoply of makeup textures, ranging from luminous to matte to metallic.
At 3.1 Phillip Lim, for example, Lisa Butler for Nars defined cheekbones and eyes in sepia and wheat tones, while at Thakoon, shimmering beige eye shadow dusted in the corner of the eye and a smudge of copper on the brow bone gave an ethereal effect.
“For fall 2010, nudes and browns were used to create perfect, three-dimensional skin,” says François Nars, founder and creative director of Nars Cosmetics. “We didn’t see strong colors on the skin, but most of the shows used neutrals to create defined, groomed eyes and brows, perfectly contoured skin and, oftentimes, deep, defined lips.”
The grunge-inspired face at Chris Benz included a “revisited Nineties lip” lined in dark brown pencil and coated in a nude gloss, while at Badgley Mischka, the makeup look created by Charlotte Tilbury for MAC featured dramatically sculpted cheekbones and a neutral, smoky eye with shimmery russet tones.
DKNY’s take on the trend took earth tones into a more romantic territory, with lips and lids painted a red-infused mahogany.
Shiseido creative director Dick Page credits Kevyn Aucoin’s Nakeds collection, introduced in 1984, for turning neutral makeup into a beauty staple. “It became structural rather than about adding color,” says Page. “These [nude] colors became the baseline of makeup, as they work with any skin tone.”
Page used neutrals on the runway this season to enhance features by adding depth and color. “I like to play with dimension and layering,” he says. “To make the complexion a little bright, I’ll drop in a bit of blush color. Deep reds also really work great with brown. It’s fun to play with dimension, adding a hint of red or violet so the brown tones recede a little.”
De Mey adds that nude colors can create the illusion of everything from a “windburned cheek” to a Sixties-inspired “cool look,” depending on the application process and the makeup’s delivery system.
“By utilizing new textures and technologies—mineral powders; creamy glosses; wet-process eye shadows; sparkling textures; sheer, fluid, hydrating foundations, and illuminating creams—the makeup looks fresh and three-dimensional rather than flat and heavy,” he says.