All About Face: Beauty Trends From the Autumn/Winter 2021 Runways

Bright and healthy skin, accentuated eyes – we took notes. Here are the top beauty trends from the autumn/winter 2021 runways.

We take note of the bright, healthy skin and accentuated eyes on this season’s runways as we preview the looks that will capture our attention this autumn.

Bold colours on eyes

Loud pops of colour on the lids are perfect for the current times when you’re masked up and the eyes only are on display. Make-up royalty Pat McGrath was backstage seemingly everywhere – Prada, Anna Sui, Miu Miu – but her bold lids at Versace’s autumn/winter ready-to-wear defined the season. The digital runway show saw electric-blue and hot-pink cat eyes on fresh, natural-looking faces. McGrath’s looks for Dolce & Gabbana also featured cyan and pink lids but with black winged liner and bright red and sea-green pouts. And at Valentino Couture, McGrath matched eyeliner colour to the gowns and cocktail dresses, with pops of lime green and acid pink on the lids.

Elsewhere, bright hues on lids made statements that seemed rebellious – a bold take-no-prisoners look. Make-up artist Helene Vasnier at Giambattista Valli’s show exemplified this with striking lids in geometric shapes, packing on M.A.C pigments in bright and dark tones – in teals, cyans, violets, pinks, oranges and greens among other shades – and played with shapes and lines. The shadow extended up past the eyebrows, covering them entirely and sometimes replacing them with slim powdered-pencilled coloured lines.

Armani Privé went for more muted tones, with models showcasing icier and pastel blues and purples on the lids, courtesy of make-up artist Linda Cantello who followed the designer’s idea for something blue, playful and pastel.

Dewy, clean skin

Letting the outfit do the talking doesn’t have to mean absolutely nothing on the face. Natural-looking fresh faces trended on runways everywhere, achieved with minimal make-up that worked to enhance models’ features. Clean and dewy skin was seen at Giambattista Valli, Armani Privé, Markarian and Ambush. “Health is wealth,” and glowy, healthy skin is the natural go-to.  

Clean, bare-looking skin also made a nice base for facial decorations, as seen on models at Bora Aksu and Courrèges. At Maison Rabih Kayrouz, the face was dewy and glowy – almost glass-like. Make-up artist Cécile Paravina created luminous skin that had a soft, diffused sheen to it, flawless at every angle yet with no distinguishable cosmetics. The outfits at Ermanno Scervino (neutral tones with notes of green, pink and purple) were also complemented with natural and seemingly bare faces.

Although models at the Iris van Herpen couture show appeared make-up free, a closer look revealed feathered brows, a nice sheen of colour on the lids and a natural-looking base, as well as highlighted top points of the face, freckles and beauty spots, and a touch of gloss on the lips. At Elie Saab’s haute couture show, the skin was clean with a pastel flush on the cheeks, complemented by soft smoky lids in neutral tones and lightly filled brows. 

Big black winged liner

From everyday wings to smoked-out kohl and classic cat-eye, big, black liner is guaranteed to come into fashion again and again. Whether it’s retro or even slightly goth, the look serves up some of the evening glamour we’ve been missing over the past 18 months. 

At Chanel and Dior Haute Couture, slim black wings were complemented by royal-blue shadow and liner. Both runways featured reverse cat eyes (smoked-out shadow under the eyes to create an upside-down, mirrored liner look). For more reverse cat-eye inspiration, look towards Schiaparelli Couture’s heavy inky liner underneath the eye, complete with skinny, barely etched eyebrows.

There was a nod to the ’60s styles with looks like that at Giambattista Valli Couture, where the entire lid was covered with black cat-eye doll-like liner while keeping the rest of the face (including under the eyes) neutral and bare looking for dramatic effect. A similar, top-heavy liner look was also seen at Balenciaga at the fashion house’s return to couture after 53 years. There was dramatic black liner that extended up towards the brow bone, as well as black in the waterline, as at Valentino. And at Erdem, NARS global artistry director Jane Richardson played with lines to create black graphic looks that winged up towards the temples and then back under the eyes.

For some everyday liner inspiration, look to Alessandra Rich and Prabal Gurung, who both featured classic wings on models – wearable, thick and sharp. 

High-pigment blush

Blush has been back for a moment now, with more popular placements including a dusting over the bridge of the nose for a sun-flushed look – or, for a lifting effect, beneath the part of the face you’d normally apply highlighter. On the runways, however, blush was high impact – on the apples of the cheek and the sides of the face, and even up into the hairline.

Effective blush has some powerful connotations – it can highlight health and vitality. But there are also edgier ways to achieve a well-flushed look. As the Vivienne Westwood ready-to-wear collection was inspired by François Boucher’s 18th-century painting Daphnis and Chloe, beauty looks resembled old aristocracy, with models wearing coral and orange blush in the hollows of the cheek.

Elsewhere, fuchsia blush was worn on the sides of the face – from the cheeks up past the brow bone onto the temples. And at Molly Goddard, extravagant, almost haphazard blush gave models an ’80s feel – complete with big hair and big dresses – and a maximalist look that’s returning to trend post-Covid. Make-up artist Miranda Joyce created high-impact beauty with intensely pigmented fuchsia blush complemented with pink and red shadow on the eyes and a berry-red pout.

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