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Cleopatra's moment

September 30, 2007|Rose Apodaca

A beauty season already indelibly defined by a strong eye is being underscored to more dramatic effect thanks to a couple of queens -- as in Brit designer Alexander McQueen and the muse for his fall collection, Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra.

For his fall runway presentation, which took place in February in Paris, McQueen provided artist Charlotte Tilbury with film stills of Taylor in all her Hollywood-Egyptian glory from the 1963 cinematic epic. Tilbury and her team subsequently updated the effect by applying softer shades of eye shadow and opening up the liner at the wing.

It was an eye-opening moment among trend watchers, including MAC Cosmetics, which has lately offered a string of zingy capsule collections with fashion mavericks such as Zandra Rhodes, Luella Bartley and the late Isabella Blow. A nine-piece group is the result of MAC and McQueen's collaboration, among the fastest journeys for the beauty brand from conception to market -- only five months in the making. It's available beginning Thursday.

Co-branded for all those collectors (yes, some people actually collect this kind of stuff and never use it), the product names are all within the theme: kohl liners called Jealous (black with green pearl) and Black Karat (black with gold pearl), White Magic lip gloss (pearly white gold), and paint pots labeled Otherworldly (a light sea blue), Electro Sky (intense royal) and Pharaoh (along the lines of the MAC's chartreuse Pagan eye shadow). There are even theatrical No. 20 lashes.

Consider a swath of Pagan chartreuse or Nile blue from lid to brow and the blackest liner, applied with a heavy hand, rimming the eyes. Yes, it's over the top, and that's exactly the point, says Gregory Arlt, MAC director of makeup artistry.

"But you can do Cleo Lite," he says. "Pare down the look by only doing a color wash on the lid and lining the top and bottom of the lash line with a soft kohl pencil. If you're feeling daring, go ahead and elongate the liner into a cat eye or straight 'Mighty Isis' line. A little exaggeration is perfectly right for evening."

A sense of drama is the goal here, but even more important, Arlt says, is having fun. "A trend isn't always for everyone necessarily, but makeup is the ultimate disposable accessory because you can just wash it off. Just try it. In the words of Liz-as-mighty-Cleo, you might even bring someone to his knees."

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