There were plenty of truly beautiful, pin-to-your-inspo-board-worthy hair, makeup and nail looks gracing the Spring 2023 runways in New York this September. But there were also some less conventional backstage beauty moments I can’t stop thinking about, ones that had me genuinely wondering: Is everyone… ok?
We (and by “we,” I mean literally all of humanity) have been through it these last few years. I don’t need to rattle off the seemingly endless list of reasons why. And it seems as though all of those pent-up feelings — anguish, despair, ennui, a deep-seated annoyance at having to remove one’s pimple patches before leaving the house — have really seeped into the collective consciousness of the beauty powers that be.
On the New York runways, we saw models (somewhat dubiously) made up to look as though they had black eyes and wine-stained lips, and others meant to appear as though they’d spent the last three hours crying in the bathroom. Basically, if these looks are any indication, the kids are simply not alright.
At Eckhaus Latta, makeup artist Fara Homidi was inspired by “American Psycho” to create the shiny-finish skin, reported Arden Fanning Andrews for Vogue. Wanting to do something “a little bit freaky,” the artist went for a peel-off mask (one from drugstore brand Freeman Beauty, to be specific), which she painted onto a handful of models’ skin.
“I’m a huge fan of ‘American Psycho,’ and there’s that scene where he puts the gel mask on and is talking about how he might have the warmth of a human being, but underneath the mask, he’s simply not there, and he peels it off — that’s always just been something in my mind,” Homidi told Andrews.
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Homidi was also behind the similarly skin-care-forward “makeup” look on some Puppets and Puppets models, supposedly introducing the “first pimple patch to walk the runway,” using Starface‘s forthcoming Black Star Hydro-Stars as the sole adornment for several looks.
Meanwhile, for the Fe Noel show, makeup artist Mali Thomas (for Bobbi Brown) depicted three emotions: love, sadness and joy. The moodiest of these was, of course, sadness, which the creative aptly evoked by creating a smeared, smudge-y post-crying-binge eye-makeup look.
And then there was what I’ll dub the most unhinged beauty look of the season, for M65‘s “America: Lost and Found” collection, with makeup by Claire Perez intended to “speak to the feelings of tumult at large in the United States.” The interpretation hinged on fake black eyes, with multiple models sporting chillingly realistic post-fight bruises. Some were coupled with “red wine-stained” lips.
I’ll be honest: After more than a decade of heading backstage to hear makeup artists insist that they drew inspiration for what appears to me like basic black eyeliner from some obscure 18th century painter, I find some of these looks refreshing, inspired and even strangely delightful. (Except for the bruises — I get that they were well-intentioned and meant to be a form of cultural criticism, but ultimately, there’s nothing appealing about glamorizing or fetishizing violence.) And if nothing else, it’s nice to see some actually relatable looks making it to the runways. Red wine-stained lips? The normalization of public-facing pimple patches? Count me in.
See more beauty looks that had us…concerned…from the Spring 2023 New York runways in the gallery below.