Fashion seems to be taking us directly from winter to summer, with no stopping for spring: bare shoulders; short, cream-puff skirts; ice cream colors; safari neutrals; the crispness of black and white. The message: Be cool. Look cool.
It's the same for the face. Hot red lips, electric eye shadows and warm, rosy blushers have given way to a bare hint of tint. The spring face is fresh, clean and, above all, cool .
The new face may be dramatically toned down, but it's far from naked. The new clothes demand more. This year's thigh-baring skirts and exposed shoulders are shyly flirtatious and require the same beckoning innocence from cosmetics. So the newest lip colors let the natural tone of the lips shine through, rather than coat them with opaque, predetermined color. They combine the shimmer of clear gloss with the emphatic color of traditional lipstick.
But lip colors are not necessarily what they appear to be: Pinks and pale peaches, the most summery of the spring crop, may look orange in the tube. Some that appear absolutely yellow, such as Christian Dior's Pousse-Pousse, turn a sun-kissed pink on the mouth. Transparent reds, such as Estee Lauder's Sheer Cherry, look too dark before they are smoothed on to become a moist stain on the lips. Elizabeth Arden's Neoclassic Magenta, another strong statement in its tube, pales to a gentle berry.
The eyes, while subtler and sweeter than in seasons past, are treated to new colors and color combinations. The one- or two-shade eye-shadow compact has been replaced by the multicolor palette. These colors aren't necessarily meant to be blended in ombre horizontal stripes but rather to be layered one atop the next, creating new colors that may change each day at the whim of the wearer.
While mesdemoiselles on the Left Bank are striping their eyelids with vivid fuchsias and teals, the color for spring here is green--khaki to forest, with all shades in between. Green eye shadow, which many women avoided for years because they considered it too obvious , is a surprising complement to brown, blue, green or gray eyes--especially in its newest incarnations of whitened opalescents. But green is not meant to be worn alone: Elizabeth Arden says wear it with pearl pink or canary yellow; Christian Dior teams it with an unexpected lavender; Shiseido shows it with deep sage; Chanel pairs it with steel gray.
Another surprising combination for eyes is Chanel's Les Mats white, black, rose and brown palette. Startling effects are created when Chanel's flat, no-sheen black is juxtaposed with the stark white nearest the eyelashes, and both are gently blended up on the eyelid to the brow bone with the brown and rose tones. Matte shadows were once considered appropriate for only very young women, because their static effect made older eyelids look crepey. But this year, a new creamy consistency makes the matte look much easier to wear for women of all ages.
A completely new idea for eyes-- pink liquid liner--is presented by Lancome, whose Perlite liner is sheer and nearly white. The newest pencils combine a variety of eye colors in one tip. Lancome's Tres Jolie crayon , for example, mixes pinks, greens and blues. A variation is the powdered eye-shadow pencil, such as Chanel's Double Couleur, which features two shades on pointed sponge applicators, one at each end of the stick. These slim-line tools not only put color near the lashes but also stroke vivid accents anywhere on the eyelid and brow bone.
Makeup specialists have varying opinions on what shape the eyes should be for spring. Ignacio Poucel, a makeup artist for Elizabeth Arden, takes the classic, conservative approach, promoting the "very natural, almond-shaped eye, subtly darkened at the outside corner." Serge Lutens, the Paris-based image creator for Shiseido, prefers a horizontal illusion created by lines that begin in the center of both eyelids, rounding--rather than pointing--at the outer corner. Christian Dior's artist, Tyen, eschews liquid eyeliner that might define an almond shape, preferring several shades of eye shadow that create a somewhat rounded eye. Hollywood makeup artist Jeff Angell calls this new, rounder eye "the essence of innocence" and accents the look with a concentration of pencil eyeliner in the center of both upper and lower eyelids, blended and gradually fading at the corners.
Blusher is pale in keeping with the subtle new look for lips and eyes. Placed high on the cheeks, on the temples and dusted lightly over the brow, this delicate blush almost encircles the eye sockets, yet only gently hints of color. Blendings of opposites--pink and orange--on the same cheek create a remarkably natural, healthy look.
Nails also are pale. The shape is cropped and natural-looking. One of the prettiest looks makes the nails appear as if the tips have been whitewashed, then coated with mother of pearl. The opalescent look is for night and day, reflecting the color of whatever you wear. Even the traditional pinks and corals of spring have a opalescent sheen. The same translucence that's apparent in lipsticks is also important on fingertips this spring. Note: Open-toe sandals, which will be everywhere in spring, require neatly shaped toenails that match the fingernails.
The spring-cleaned face will no doubt be embraced by many women who have tired of heavy makeup and painted-lady sophistication. Chances are very good that this makeup look--like the appealing new direction in fashion--will last well into October.