After the recent news of the great Karl Lagerfeld’s passing it seemed a good time to take a look at what makes the cross over between fashion and beauty so intriguing. The highly manicured look trending now from outfits to eyebrows is truly fascinating to watch.
My roots have come, via various seemingly obscure routes, firmly from luxury fashion. I spent 10 years working with some amazing brands including Pringle of Scotland, Cashmere Studio and Kenzo, working with equally iconic stores worldwide. We also did the show circuit with some of the up and coming designers of the time – Garahni Strok, Scott Henshall and Matthew Williamson to name a few. It was an exciting time for British Fashion and has firmly kept us at the forefront of fashion trends.
Today it is particularly crucial, in these changing environmental, business style and political times, for businesses to differentiate themselves from the crowd. We heard from a jaded buyer at this year’s Home and Gift Fair, who lamented, ‘There is nothing new! Everything is the same this year as it was last. Everyone follows the crowd. Last year it was Soya Candles everywhere and this year it is Vegan everything.’ And so it is for Fashion. The trend fairs such as Premiere Vision for fabric and shape in fashion, will also influence elements of the beauty market.
What starts on the catwalk as pseudo wearable forms of art, such as the Alexander McQueen live spraying of models in large toile dresses and 20th century interpretation of 16th Century Parisian Court style by Vivienne Westwood, is slowly diluted by the pret-a-porter brands who transform them in to fashion that is not only wearable but affordable. With these looks come trends in make-up, hair, skincare and perfume. Many designer brands – Chanel, Dior and Gucci to name a few - will have complementary lines of skincare, make-up and perfumery which accentuate and highlight the core essence of the brand, making an element of that brand available to the masses at relatively affordable prices, without diluting the fashion brand itself.
And it is this complete ‘look’ which is the key to the cross over between fashion and beauty. If I chose a great cutting edge dress by Chloe, I would want to pair it with the right shoes, the right make-up, hair and nails. I might take my inspiration from pictures on the catwalk, frequently covered by online media live or just moments after the runway empties. If the trend for a particular designer is smoky eyes, natural lips and slightly wild and dishevelled hair with a torn, vagabond style outfit it would seem very on trend to carry that complete look.
Adopting the ‘look’ is more that just physical appearances though. We could be thinking any number of things when we dress up in a certain way:
‘Hey look at me’
‘I know how to dress’
‘My boyfriend will love this look’
‘I’m sure to get this job dressed like this’
‘This outfit will get thousands of likes on Instagram’
‘I feel great dressed like this’
‘I saved up for months to be able to buy this designer piece’
‘My friends and I like to dress like this’
‘I buy from this label because they are vegan and ecofriendly’
We are influenced not just by designer fashion, but by what our idols wear in their social media feeds, by what the media says about a particular look, designer or trend, by our own feelings of self-worth, levels of achievement, even a certain shyness and wanting the ‘look’ to hide/protect us in some way and, particularly today, a sense of duty towards conscious Eco consumerism. The psychological purpose of fashion and beauty trends seems to be becoming ever more critical and it is unlikely that this will change.
With recent media coverage highlighting the wasteful nature of ‘fast fashion’ and a certain designer brand who burnt a large proportion of stock to prevent it from being sold on at lower prices – hence maintaining the supposed high-end ‘value’ of the label we all start to question ours levels of fashion consumption. The seeming exception to this is the sudden explosion of beauty brands and massive investment by individuals in beauty treatments, make-up, lashes, fillers etc where the wastage is proportionately lower.
Will fashion now take a back seat? Is beauty where it is now at? Is it possible to have one without the other?