Gone is the traditional idea of a trend. For the last few seasons, there has been a gradual uprising of sorts occurring backstage, and it culminated in the breadth of makeup and hair looks we saw on the autumn / winter 2016 catwalks. Individuality, more and more, is being expressed and celebrated—whether it’s embracing the natural texture of models’ hair or letting them choose the lipstick shade they wear (as was the case at the Sophia Webster presentation in London)—uniqueness is being applauded. At Michael Kors, makeup artist Dick Page said, “It’s about individuality: there is no one consistent element on each girl; they stand on their own, that makes them cool.” That’s not to say there were no themes this season, but how you interpret each is totally up to you.
This autumn, it’s also about finding the looks that translate best for you from catwalk to curb. “Women demand easy, accessible beauty looks that stay on,” says Terry Barber, Director of Makeup Artistry at MAC. The key? Play up one area. “Aim for one element to have max beautification—move away from a full face; it’s too mannequin for the modern woman.” This laissez-faire approach to our beauty look is something we can totally get on board with, thanks to our increasingly squeezed schedules. And it’s not just makeup that is having this easy, cool-girl, do-over. When it comes to hair, embracing your natural texture and movement is key, and thankfully the hairstyles are super easy, too. Ponytails will reign supreme (we couldn’t move backstage without seeing the swish of a ‘tail), and if you’re having a bad hair day, then disguise it with hair jewellery—arguably autumn’s most frivolous beauty trend.
Keep scrolling for your rundown of A/W 16’s biggest looks, and then interpret as you please…
Tough yet beautiful, this look focuses wholly on a deep, dark lip, be it burgundy, oxblood, chestnut, purple and even black—as with the shade, the finish is also down to you. At Gareth Pugh, Val Garland amped up the lips with a vinyl slick of plump clear gloss. While at Edun in New York there was only a hint of sheen and a soft-focus edge.
Gareth Pugh. Edun.
What unified this trend was the go-to velvet complexions and the barely-there mascara and brushed-up brows—just what is needed to soften the effect of such a powerful lip.
Top Tip: Use a cotton bud to soften the edges of your lipstick. If you want to take down the shine on a lipstick blot with a single ply of tissue, or, to make it seriously matte, dust with a little translucent powder. Otherwise, load up with MAC Lipglass (£15) in clear for an intense vinyl finish.
Aalto. Max Mara.
Proenza Schouler. Roksanda Ilincic.
The autumn catwalks would not be complete without a visit from a red lip or two. This season, the look is completely and utterly modern in its aesthetic (read: no liner flicks to take it to the typical retro place). At Proenza Schouler, Diane Kendal applied a flash of almost-neon orange-red to bare, polished faces.
Pat McGrath painted red lips onto scrubbed faces at Prada and Victoria Beckham. The terracotta red at Victoria Beckham is a low-maintenance take on the trend.
Prada. Max Mara.
Top Tip: Perfect your complexion with concealer and plenty of blending; a red lip requires flawless skin, but you don’t want to look caked in makeup. Less is more.
Pucci. Monique Lhuillier.
The '90s are still having a moment, but the attention this season has travelled up to the eyes. There is a return this season to that super–pin-thin piercing black line that was so popular 20 years ago. A tight sliver of black inside the waterline narrows and intensifies the eye. It's a look look that we spied at Emilio Pucci, Preen and Monique Lhullier.
If the last thing you want is to make your eyes appear smaller, then look to another '90s eye trend making a comeback—the under-eye liner. A smudge of kohl under the eye immediately gives your makeup look a rock and roll edge, like you’ve been out partying until the early hours. Look to Alberta Ferretti, where Diane Kendal described the look as “girls in the morning after a night out,” and Chloé, where Aaron de Mey described the women as “slightly tough, without being extreme.” Think tough yet soft.
Alberta Ferretti. Chloé.
Top Tip: For longevity, look to waterproof formulas like Rimmel ScandalEyes Waterproof Kohl Liner (£4) when applying pencil into the waterline—they are less likely to budge.
When it comes to makeup, embellishment is often filed away under “festival,” but this winter, a touch of sparkle will brighten up the dreariest of days. And it wasn’t just the more niche designers experimenting with all that glitters—at Burberry, Wendy Rowe was light-dappling around models’ eyes with glitter (yes, a Burberry glitter pot is imminent). “The secret to wearing glitter? Be haphazard, let it drop down a bit.” At Holly Fulton, Sam Bryant was using MAC Mixing Medium Shine (£16) to fix silver leaf onto eyelids before brushing it away to look like broken shards of glass.
While over at Markus Lupfer, makeup artist Lucy Burt was using Maybelline Baby Lips Lip Balm (£3) to fix gold glitter onto the eyelids for a “sexy, sheeny night eye.”
Emanuel Ungaro. Giambattista Valli.
Top Tip: For a contemporary take on the look, Wendy Rowe told us backstage at Burberry that larger glitter feels more modern and more opulent for winter. Or go bold with an all over wash of intense shimmer, like that seen at Emanuel Ungaro.
J.W. Anderson. Proenza Schouler.
The default complexion for autumn/winter is velvet, seen at numerous shows including Proenza Schouler, Erdem and J.W.Anderson. But if you prefer a dewier finish, then look no further than the shower-fresh skin trend we spied at Peter Pilotto, Calvin Klein and John Galliano. This look is less about makeup and more about skin prep, more creams and concealer than foundations and finishing powders.
Peter Pilotto. Calvin Klein. John Galliano.
Flawless complexions are doused in a moist veil like you’ve just emerged post-shower from a session at Barry’s Bootcamp or a spa day and your skin is looking fresh, plump and glowing.
Top Tip: To fake shower-fresh skin, give your skin a really good massage with your fingers to get the blood flowing. Use MAC's Cream Colour Base (£16) in Shell to fake that moist, post-shower glow.
Eudon Choi. Jason Wu.
If lashes are more your thing than lips or liner, then this is the look for you. This season, where mascara was worn, boy was it seen. Clumped, fat, spidery lashes flanked eyes at the season’s biggest shows.
At Dior, they were worn with a full-on lip, while at Jason Wu and Eudon Choi the lashes took centre stage. At Eudon Choi, makeup artist Adam de Cruz and his team applied a coat of mascara before painstakingly pinching parts of the lashes together with fingers or tweezers for that clumped effect.
Top Tip: If you don’t fancy taking tweezers to your lashes, then really load up with numerous coats of mascara, wiggling the wand horizontally as you go from root to tip, and let them dry. Then go back in with the tip of your wand and apply more mascara to gently and precisely clump your lashes.
Dolce & Gabbana.
Hair accessories are big news this autumn. Huge. But luckily the trend spans two camps, those who love the more-is-more look, and those who enjoy something a little more discreet.
Ashley Williams. Dolce & Gabbana.
At Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander McQueen and Ashley Williams, the hair teams piled on brooch- and necklace-like jewelled accessories with wild abandon. Chanel's models wore brooches and strings of pearls adorned in their hair. In other words, hair jewellery will be big news next season.
Calvin Klein. Blumarine. Paul Smith.
Unsurprisingly, Calvin Klein's women wore simple black barrettes low down to secure the hair into a modern take on a ponytail, while at Paul Smith ponytails were secured with custom-made metal ponytailers.
Ryan Lo. Rodarte.
If jewel-like accessories aren't your thing, then Ryan Lo and Rodarte showcased another summer trend in winter. Thougj floral headpieces are usually worn at summer festivals, these designers created accessories in rich wintery jewel-tones.
Suno. Valentin Yudashkin.
Ponytails are set to be the standout hairstyle for autumn/winter 2016 if the shows are anything to go by. Play down a cocktail dress with a low-slung ponytail secured with a low-key hair elastic, or get creative with ribbon, as seen at Suno.
Guido said of the hair at Victoria Beckham, “This look is an elevated, modern version of a simple style that women really want to wear. It’s polished but there’s also a genuine sense of ease to it too.”
He blow-dried the hair using a hairdryer and his fingers before using the Ghd Curve Soft Curl Tong (£120) to add a faint bend throughout the ends.
Philosophy. Hussein Chalayan.
Top Tip: What elevates a ponytail from off-duty to something more special is how you secure it. Look to flouncy ribbons or coloured cords and experiment with your own take on the trend.
Each season, the hairstylists flip-flop from centre to side to no parting. This season the side parting really stood out.
Lela Rose. Diesel.
But as with every trend, it's up to you how you wear it. To get the sleek, smooth and shiny look as seen at Lela Rose and Diesel, use a pintail comb to create a precise parting, before smoothing with a high-shine pomade like The Body Shop Coconut Oil Hair Shine (£6).
Topshop Unique. Louis Vuitton.
Or go dishevelled and windswept, as if you've simply raked the hair over to one side with your fingers.
Top Tip: Mist a paddle brush with hairspray before using it to sweep your hair to one side, lifting the hair up and over with the brush.
Temperley London. Jonathan Simkhai.
Knots and twists came in every possible guise you can imagine this season. Whether it was a knotted ponytail as seen at Jonathan Simkhai or an undone bun at Temperley London.
Marchesa. Roland Mouret.
Experiment with your bun by braiding your hair first, as seen at Marchesa. It’s an easy way to add detail.
Sacai. Shiatzy Chen.
Twisted topknots are back, but the serious flyaways and added heavy dark eye makeup means they're tougher and less girly this time around.
Top Tip: Once you have your topknot secured, mist your palms with hairspray and gently rub them over your hair, especially near the hairline, to bring out your natural baby hairs.
Want to know more about next season? Head over to Who What Wear for the nine biggest A/W 16 fashion trends.
Opening Image: Imaxtree