WHEN FASHION DESIGNERS show chiffon and lace for daytime, as they did at spring previews, the result is a season of softness--flowing lines rather than geometric shapes, subdued rather than garish colors. With this message of softness emanating from the fashion capitals--Milan, Paris, New York and Tokyo--beauty decision makers are responding in kind: Spring makeup, hair and even fragrances are softer, gentler and less restricted than at any time since the '60s, when flower children introduced the no-makeup look.
But the new soft look doesn't mean no makeup. Paradoxically, to achieve a softer look, women may find themselves wearing more makeup than ever before. What they wear, however, will be applied with a light hand and with precise attention to detail. The ultimate goal is to look refined --emphatically not bare-faced or unfinished, which was fashionable in the '60s and early 1970s. The pale lips, fragile eyelids and unexaggerated cheekbones that are the signatures of spring are carefully highlighted with new, more delicate shades.
The season's beauty focus is on individuality, concentrating on facial features rather than on makeup or hair styles. Idiosyncratic characteristics are amplified rather than masked to allow an individual's inherent beauty to come through. Women who have "quirky" features--freckles, full lips, thin lips--will not try to disguise them. Tyen, artistic director for Christian Dior cosmetics, says: "There is no contouring. No spots of color. When I look at a woman this spring, I don't remember her color. I only remember her beauty."
SUBDUED HUES COLOR THE NEW FACE
FOR ABOUT TWO YEARS, aggressively red lipsticks have been fashionable. This season, however, lipsticks in shades of almond, golden pink, dusty rose, even brownish-red, border on pale; yet these should never be lighter than natural lip tones. And after years of glossy lipsticks, matte finishes are in fashion. These "allow you to see natural texture and contours without the distortion caused by shiny, creamy lipsticks," says makeup artist Marilyn Young of the Ole Henriksen salon in Los Angeles. In the past, although women rejected drying, matte-finish lipsticks, manufacturers found that adding moisturizing emollients to a matte-finish product was virtually impossible. Now, however, blending technology has been improved, permitting the introduction of new, oil-rich matte lipsticks.
When the lips are muted, eyes get the attention. This spring, eyelids may be shaded with as many as five different powders--sand, rose, honey, peach, sable, for example--but such amalgams are blended to produce a hint of gentle color. Surprisingly, the season of softness allows for a variation that strongly emphasizes eyes with liner. Shiseido's Parisian artistic director, Serge Lutens, for example, is showing an obvious, dark liner on upper and lower lids with shadows that appear to lighten the lids slightly. Most American makeup artists, however, are featuring the look without liner, placing emphasis on lashes and brows. The eyebrows are left natural, yet tamed with new brow gels. Before mascara, lashes are softly curled; a new device called Lady Wink can be used as a cold or hot curler for long-lasting curve.
TOUCHABLE HAIR AT ANY LENGTH
THE NATURAL FREEDOM of very short or very long hair is an integral element of the soft spring look. Just as designers of beauty products are operating on the theory that a woman's makeup should not be noticeable, many hairdressers are likewise saying that the healthy glow of the hair--rather than the style--is what's fashionable. Geometrically structured haircuts--such as the sharply chiseled bob--have become passe. And now more than ever, black and Asian women will not alter their natural hair with gels and texturizers to conform to a largely Caucasian ideal. The point of the natural look in hair is to call attention to the eyes, an effect achieved by dense bangs, which skim the eyebrows, as well as hair brushed back and off the face. Long hair--straight, waved or curly--can be worn free-flowing. Or the hair can be pulled back into a chignon or ponytail to completely free the face of clutter.
"Short" this spring means hair cut no longer than earlobe length. If the style is a blunt page boy, hair should just graze the earlobes. Even newer is hair cropped to within an inch of its roots. This is "no-conflict" hair--tresses snipped into shape, then left to their own devices, framing the face rather than being noticed on their own. Sterfon Demings, educational director of the John Atchison salons in New York and Los Angeles, says that one of the most important aspects of the short style that he created, at left, is that it is a "low- to no-maintenance look. Women have better things to do with their time than worry about their hair."
NEW TREATMENTS FOR 'NATURAL' SKIN