the 10 most creative beauty moments from fashion month

From Vaseline manicures to self tanner, face tattoos to ear make-up, we take a look at the most avant-garde looks from the spring/summer 17 collections.

by Emily Manning
11 October 2016, 9:13am

photography Mitchell Sams

Vaseline overload at Hood by Air: Puritan powdered wigs, Karen Smith-style face bedazzling, padlocked braces, Groucho Marx Sharpie face masks; there isn't a beauty boundary Shayne Oliver's incendiary Hood by Air hasn't broken. This season, PornHub sponsored Oliver's New York Fashion Week runway outing, and the site's raison d'etre doubtlessly inspired its most-used beauty product, Vaseline. The thick, translucent goop was slathered across models' foreheads, used to slick back and style their hair (photographer Wolfgang Tillmans looked pretty chic with a headful of lube), and even globbed on top of their chipping French manicures, too.

Offbeat retro futurism at Margiela: John Galliano might have unmasked Margiela's models, but since presenting his debut collection for the Belgian house in early 2015, he's wasted no time establishing an equally distinctive approach to runway beauty. Galliano's girls have rocked Marge Simpson blue beehives, creepily clownish lipstick frowns, and Bowie-esque glam mullets. This season, too, featured wildly experimental beauty looks, courtesy of make-up maestro Pat McGrath and hairstylist Eugene Souleiman. McGrath crafted glittering looks — think yellow eyebrows, shimmering blue wing-tip lids, bright blue metallic lipstick — using her own cosmetic creations, including some unreleased magic we can't wait to get our paws on. Souleiman topped it off with retro futuristic felt headpieces that looked like the chicest cracked eggshells we've ever seen.

Ear make-up at Proenza Schouler: For the New York design duo's elegant offering, make-up artist Diane Kendal looked past lips and lids to relatively uncharted cosmetic terrain: earlobes. Kendal painted models' ears with swathes of yellow and white, touches inspired by photographer Jackie Nickerson. "Her photographs capture very clean and muted colours with strong elements of personal style," Kendal told i-D. "The painted ear evokes the elegance and colour palette of the natural striking beauty in Jackie's photographs." Though ear make-up hasn't yet reached the popularity of wet hair or pastel punk dye jobs, it isn't without precedent. Opening Ceremony, Louis Vuitton, and Anthony Vaccarello have all tried the trend on catwalks past, one that Diana Vreeland, 8th century Celtic tribes, and a 10-year-old Willow Smith pioneered.

Fake face tattoos at Gucci: Florence Welch soundtracked Gucci's Milan Fashion Week mega-show — a parade of 75 opulent looks set in what seemed to be a smoky 70s nightclub — not by belting one of her orchestral songs, but by reading William Blake's poetry. Considering creative director Alessandro Michele spoke of love and loneliness as inspirations pre-show, the Romantic Age poet's verses seemed a perfect fit for the somewhat solemn show. Blake's words didn't just inspire the show's soundtrack; but one of its particularly unique beauty moments, too. Latvian-born male model Lorens walked the runway with quotes from Songs of Innocence and Experience painted on his face in the style of tattoos. Gucci isn't the first house to incorporate temporary tatts on the runway, but the decision did leave some wondering if artificial ink on the runways is only skin deep.

Self-tanner at Thom Browne: Visible self tanner is to red carpet critics what drops of blood are to sharks: let them see one drop, and you're dead in the water. Claire Danes's recent golden girl moment was a proverbial feeding frenzy for British tabloids and respected news outlets alike; the Guardian even conjured a think piece about self-tanner's "politics," likening Danes' artificial glow to human tire fire Donald Trump's Oompa Loompa complexion. On the runway, though, Thom Browne did the impossible this season: he made self-tanner look chic. For the 60s-inspired pool disco, a few of Browne's models rocked orange face paint as they processed around his runway in wetsuit style trompe l'oeil dresses. The heavy helping of bronzer emphasised white and sky blue matte lipstick shades, and played into the whimsical artifice so central to Browne's DNA. Trump's freakishly beady eyes could benefit from Browne's fish-shaped sunglasses, that's for sure.

Photography Ziqian Wang

Birthday party face paint at Gypsy Sport: Rio Uribe's poptimistic pan-ethnic, gender irreverent tribe went upscale rave this season, but didn't sacrifice any of the downtown club creativity the brand is often celebrated for. Beauty-wise, that meant straight up punk spikes, purple painted flapper curls, and glittery butterfly face paint — the kind you'd make your mum cough up $15 for at a county fair, or find as a decadent party favour at a rich kid's birthday blowout. On Gypsy Sport's nomadic crew, however, the crazy-colourful designs looked cool and paired well with Uribe's footwear of choice: easy, breezy, $2.99 Chinatown slippers.

An all-out Indian celebration at Ashish: Ashish Gupta also used celebratory facepaint on his London Fashion Week runway. Gupta's didn't harken back to childhood birthday bashes, though; instead, the Delhi-born designer championed his heritage by putting India's vibrant history and culture at the show's centre. Gupta's models sported elaborate headpieces and jewellery inspired by the nation's traditional adornments, often teamed with thick, waist-length braids (and in one case, a live snake). A few of Gupta's models had their faces fully painted in midnight blues, lime greens, and citrus yellows. It was a revelrous, positive challenge to Brexit-bred racism.

Cyber dreads at Marc Jacobs: While Gupta got top marks for his vibrant cultural appreciation, Marc Jacobs's spring/summer 17 beauty ignited debates about cultural appropriation. Hair stylist Guido Palau recruited an etsy seller named Jen to help create multi-coloured yarn faux-dreadlocks, a style inspired by cyber-ravers and Jacobs' close friend (and spring/summer 16 campaign star), director Lana Wachowski. i-D took a closer look at the controversy, and the hair style's rich cultural history, here.

Vertical hair at Haider Ackermann: "Order and chaos," is how the celebrated Colombian designer described his spring/summer 17 offering. It was a succinct, but apt appraisal: Ackermann's jackets had strips slashed from them, his stick-thin pants patched together with different metallic fabrics. The same description summed up the show's beauty, specifically the models' sky-high hair styles (which elsewhere netted comparisons to a certain Rugrats character). The straight up, spiky 'dos recalled a bit of early punk anarchism, and gave an edge to Ackermann's slick offering.

Face flowers at Preen: Thea Bregazzi and Justin Thornton debuted a bewitching Preen collection this season, lifting inspiration from their witchy Isle of Man upbringing, 70s nature cults, skinhead culture. The result was occult-lite: Pentagram polos, ethereal chiffon dresses, and ruffles for centuries. Beauty-wise, the Preen girls were fresh-faced, literally: the models wore little make-up, other than a few flower petals which spilled across brows, cheeks, and lips, as if they were stuck to a wet surface after a rainstorm.


Text Emily Manning
Photography Mitchell Sams

spring/summer 17