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Makeup on Men Accelerates on Runways

Color cosmetics on guys was a growing trend at Paris Men’s Fashion Week for fall 2023.

PARIS — Natural beauty, begone.

That was the stance of an increasing number of fashion designers and makeup artists, who created makeup looks for the recent Paris Men’s Fashion Week catwalks, after seasons of no-makeup-makeup on guys.

From the runways of Dior to Sulvam, Facetasm and Rains, more male models sported visible color cosmetics during the fall 2023 season that ended Sunday.

Largely, this rise syncs with the swell of genderless fashion collections being presented.

“Most of the shows focused on eye makeup, because while talking with each designer, I felt they were more comfortable having makeup on or around the eye, rather than on the lip or full makeup,” said makeup artist Kanako Yoshida.

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Peter Philips, creative and image director of Christian Dior makeup, said he set out to make the male models look “more poetic, a bit dreamier. I used eye shadow in a very subtle way, but when you see a before-and-after — you see a difference.” 

Philips worked on the outer corner of models’ eyelids, using a dark brown eye shadow, then softly blended it out, moving downward. After, he added a bit of dark color on the inner corner of the eyebrow to give it a strength. 

“It gives more depth to the face,” said Philips, of the look. “It’s not supposed to be a makeup statement, because then you lose the poetic part of it.” 

For her part, Yoshida infused makeup looks into the Sulvam, Facetasm, Kidill and Kiko Kostadinov men’s shows.

For Sulvam, Yoshida said that she wanted the color cosmetics to be wearable on the street — with a twist, to highlight each individual’s character ­— in keeping with the brand’s fashion for every day.

Elongated wings stretched out from some models’ eyes, while white arcs were drawn over others’ lids.

“The collection had many different elements and essentials, so I wanted to use a few different types of makeup,” said Yoshida.

She echoed in some looks fabric textures used by designer Teppei Fujita. The sparkling tweed segued into sparkling eyelashes, for example.

At Facetasm, designer Hiromichi Ochiai used a bright color palette and made nostalgic references to childhood fantasies. Yoshida said she tried to respect that feeling through the makeup creation. Another reference was “Stay Gold,” by Stevie Wonder, with some fashion looks inspired by the sunrise.

“I concentrated on makeup techniques, such as blending — with a gradation from pink to orange, purple and navy,” she said.

For Kidill, designer Hiroaki Sueyasu went back to the punk spirit of his early collections, and combined that with notions of skateboarding.

“I suggested a red-based smoky eye,” said Yoshida.

Over at Kiko Kostadinov, Yoshida drew graphic elements around male models’ peepers, such as gold-colored lines, looking like lashes under their bottom lids, or black squiggly lines.

For Rains, makeup artist Min Kim was inspired by the collection’s concept of “everyday superheroes.”

“I immediately thought of the mystery of a hero and the masks that conceal those mysteries,” she said. “An image of the eye mask started to appear in my mind, and that was fueled by the dark and dramatic [show] location of the Théâtre du Châtelet.”

Such makeup artists affirmed color cosmetics’ broad appeal.

“Makeup is not a tool to categorize gender. It is just very playful and fun, so I wanted to express ‘wearability’ and ‘playfulness’ in respect to male models,” said Yoshida, who also created makeup looks for Junya Watanabe.

Makeup was also spotted at shows and presentations for brands including Feng Chen Wang, Arturo Obegero, Undercover and EgonLab.

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Yoshida hopes the men-wearing-makeup trend spotted on the catwalks trickles down further to street level.

“Especially younger generations will get it,” she said.

“Makeup play has historically not been gender-specific, so it’s about time we are revisiting the trend,” continued Kim. “I hope someday soon we will see everyone on the street confidentially showing off their favorite looks.”