Shadow Play: ‘Tis the Season for Shimmering, Saturated Looks for Eyes

A model walks the runway at the GCDS show during Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2019 on Sept. 22, 2018 in Milan, Italy.
A model walks the runway at the GCDS show during Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2019 on Sept. 22, 2018 in Milan, Italy.
Photo: Andreas Rentz (Getty Images)

Of the many trends we saw come down the Spring-Summer ‘19 runways during Fashion Month (which we’ll unpack in a separate post), one of the most major—an emphasis on eyes—is ripe for right now. As the temps drop, makeup is getting more dramatic. Bold eyes and lips are making a big impact this fall and winter in a postmodern return to the glam era.


As makeup maestro, beauty mogul and British Vogue’s beauty editor-at-large Pat McGrath wrote in the magazine’s September issue:

Autumn/winter 2018 for me is all about divine duality, couture contrasts and jarring juxtapositions - I call it “maximal minimalism”. What does this oxymoron actually mean? Confident, colorful make-up balanced against pristinely pared-back, sensually sublime skin. Bare meets bold. ...

It is the idea of being major with your make-up: whether you choose to embolden your lips or your eyes (or, let’s be honest, why not both?), I believe you should create without caution and wear with attitude. Because if there is one thing that a rebellious flash of make-up celebrates, it is the notion of power.

And in a season made for bundling up, there’s no reason not to bolden up, as well. After all, what better way to play up a face-framing turtleneck or cozy cap than with a colorful eye or strong lip?

I think we all know how to do a bold lip—just pick a color slightly outside of your comfort zone, and color within the lines. But let’s look at four ways to play with bolder eyes right now—including a strong but subtle option wearable from day to night.

Fall for Foils

If there’s anyone who can make glitter grown up, it’s Pat McGrath. Her foil-like shadows are legendary, and her Opulence Trio ($300) is the stuff makeup lovers’ dreams are made of. It’s pricey, but highly-pigmented, meaning these shades should last you for a while.


How to wear it? Try a strong, angled shape like that McGrath created at Valentino, extending a single shimmering, saturated shade like emerald, amethyst or even fuchsia into a dramatic, Cleopatra-like cat-eye (pro-tip: this works best with a wet brush and a playing card, to keep the lines precise—or follow Jackie Aina’s tutorial on the look, here).


Saturate Your Smoke

If smoky, sexy beauty is more your style, try infusing color into your smoky eye. Blue eyeshadow is back in a big way this season, in royal, cobalt and sapphire. (Bonus points: It looks incredible on brown skin.) Pro tip: To avoid a full-on showgirl look, try pairing a metallic shade on the lid with its matte counterpart underneath, blending the two at the outer and inner corner of the eye.


Ice Out

There may not be frost on the ground yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get frosted—or, in the words of our favorite music-making makeup mogul, Rihanna, “Chillowt.” Over the last couple of weeks, Fenty Beauty has released its entire holiday collection, with pencils, powders, a palette and even lips shades in shimmering hues to reflect the season.


And because she never disappoints her fans (except, perhaps, when it comes to dropping new music), Rih filmed her first “Tutorial Tuesday” this week, teaching Fenty lovers how to beautifully wear icy shades all over the face—and beyond. (And for those who can’t cope with all the drama of major color, I recommend pausing as she goes through the steps, because the buildup is equally beautiful, and you could stop at pretty much any point in the process.)

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna

Be Bronzed

But if warmth is what you’re really craving as the temps drop (and who isn’t?), echo the autumn leaves with a coppery, burnished lid. While this is a subtler take on the smoky eye, the effect can be elegantly dramatic with highly pigmented metallic shades. Supermodel Naomi Campbell slayed the look for McGrath’s recent Bronze Seduction drop, packing the heavy metal onto her lids for a rockstar-ready look.


While McGrath sent these trends down the runway at Versace, Valentino and more during Fashion Month—as well as dropping her own new palette in conjunction with the Metropolitan Museum of Art—she’s far from the only one with the juice this season. Highly pigmented variations of all of these shades are available at a variety of price-points, from any number of brands, including Huda Beauty’s Precious Stones Collection palettes ($27), Sephora PRO’s 28-shade Smokey Jewels Palette ($68), and palettes from black-owned brands Juvia’s Place (try Masquerade or Afrique, each $20) and cruelty-free Coloured Raine (where you can catch their Cheers to the Beauty palette on sale for $30, or customize your own).


But whatever you do, don’t let the duller landscapes of fall and winter get you down. Think color. Experiment with shapes. Try shimmer. Get gilded. Hell, go for all four. The idea, as McGrath advises, is simply to go bold.


“There is a real strength to these looks,” she wrote. “In today’s times we all need a bit of ammunition—and fun—to armor ourselves against the world and why shouldn’t that come from our make-up? ... Dare to be fearless.”

Maiysha Kai is managing editor of The Glow Up, host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast and Big Beauty Tuesdays, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. May I borrow some sugar?


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