Bleached versus black. Bulked up versus plucked thin. Flat versus arched. For decades, these have been the burning debates in over-eye beauty, rarely veering too far from the basic rules of geometry and colour. But in the year of the power brow, when dark, dense and Delevingne-dramatic furrows frame the faces of every other street-style peacock, makeup artists have upped their game to make an impact on the fall runways. With unconventional materials like feathers, string and glue, they’ve turned that most emotionally expressive facial feature into a wildly imaginative arts-and-crafts project.
At Alexander McQueen, the doyenne of backstage beauty, Pat McGrath, affixed hand-cut black feathers above eyes in fluffy yet spiky tufts, transforming models into fantasy woodland creatures. For Yohji Yamamoto, she turned faces into surreal Rorschach tests, fanning wings both above and below eyes with fine strokes of inky black liner. Meanwhile, at Haider Ackermann, makeup artist Yadim was inspired by the brows of eccentric society ladies, gluing strips of black elastic in steep lines above the models’ natural arcs for a taut Marlene Dietrich effect. He also brushed gold powder across foreheads at Emilio Pucci, creating the illusion of a gilded unibrow reminiscent of facial armour.
For our shoot, Toronto makeup artist Sabrina Rinaldi hit the craft store. “I filled up my cart with every texture, colour, soft thing and bold thing I could find,” she says. “I made one pair of brows out of the plastic greenery you buy for fake flower arrangements, spray-painting it gold. I made another out of a fur collar I ripped off a Christmas sweater.”
She finally settled on the Black Swan–inspired set (shown above) constructed from five pairs of Shu Uemura feather lashes: “I pulled apart the lash strips and glued them to foam I’d cut using a standard eyebrow stencil,” she explains. “Then, on set, Justin German, the hairstylist, suggested we use wig glue to hold them in place on the model’s brows. We basically tarred and feathered her.”
For glue-shy brow-venturers, Rinaldi suggests playing with coloured mascaras or adding a dusting of glitter over a layer of clear brow gel. “Don’t worry about matching your hair or skin tone,” she says. “This trend is more about aesthetics and play than it is about wearability or practicality, so just go for what makes you feel good.”
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