It all began in New York when hair pro Guido Palau proclaimed: "Suddenly everything 'normal' doesn't feel like enough." It was a prevailing sentiment this season, as runway beauty looks were pushed into new, wildly imaginative realms of fantasy.
Cross-examining the inundation of heart-stopping above the neck statements, it's hard to pinpoint exactly why each look seemed to be more arrestingly beautiful or seductively strange than the next. On the most superficial level, one could argue that at a time when society is scrolling a mile a minute, it boils down to what's Instagram-worthy. And in that sense, the stakes keep getting higher. But more than that, designers, and the beauty visionaries who work alongside them, are genuinely thrilled to fully transport fashion diehards—whether they're living vicariously through a 10-minute livestream or double-tapping their smartphone screens.
And besides, in the age of radical self-expression, who says even the most beguiling and bewildering looks can't translate to the streets? Here, scroll through the nine biggest beauty trends of Fall 2019.
Futuristic Hair Is More Sculptural (and Shiny!) Than Ever
Individual texture has, at long last, become a runway mainstay, and Proenza Schouler's parade of futuristic, hyper-individual slick backs felt refreshingly raw. As the month progressed, wet styles became even more directional—in rainy London, fittingly enough. At Burberry, taut, sopping-wet knots featured baby hairs gelled intricately to the forehead, while both JW Anderson and Richard Quinn put forth glassy, sculptural coifs. Then, further cementing the trend, there were the high-shine ponytails at Alexander McQueen and Fendi. “[It's] slick perfection, just as I hope Karl [Lagerfeld] would have loved," said hairstylist Sam McKnight of the latter look.
Strange Statements Are Seriously Seductive
Gucci under the helm of Alessandro Michele has always been a beauty spectacle. But this year, Michele joined forces with makeup artist Thomas de Kluyver, marking an exciting, if not even freakier, new chapter. Playing off of the collection's golden ear sculptures, de Kluyver's subversive accents ran the gamut from crystalized tear decals to supernatural color contact lenses. But it wasn't just the Gucci show that induced shocking double-takes. At Ports 1961, models wore long tassel earrings made from human hair, while at Vivienne Westwood, faces were spray painted gold for a more peculiar take on gilded makeup. And while there were a slew of offbeat lash looks, none were stranger than those of Junya Watanabe and Rokh, the former with cartoonish length and volume and the latter serving as the antithesis to bombshell lashes in sparse, criss-cross fashion.
Black and Red Will Always Make a Statement
"Black and red are the colors of true rebellion," explained Pat McGrath backstage at Versace. And it was an assertion that rang true at both Versace and Louis Vuitton, where dark gazes and deep crimson pouts served as the most glamorous pairing for going rogue. But each element lives just as a cooly on its own, as illustrated by the bold stamps of scarlet lipstick at Paco Rabanne and the inky, fanned-out wings at Erdem, Saint Laurent, and Maison Margiela, as well as the punctuated, Twiggy-esque lower lash flutter at Dior.
Extreme Lengths Grow Even Longer
After years of boyish crops dominating the runways—and subsequently tempting women everywhere to lop it all off—the pendulum has swung, strikingly, the other direction. From Sies Marjan's sherbet and cotton candy pink Rapunzel manes to R13's derrière-skimming waves, XXL lengths floated freely to awe-inspiring effect. And then at Prada, Palau not only added 22-inch extensions to eight of the models, but then braided them into hip-grazing pigtails. "This is not the kind of hair you do yourself," grinned Palau. The takeaway? With great extensions, come great possibilities.
Hair Baubles Dazzle From Every Angle
From the catwalks to the streets, a deluge of hair accessories defined the month. In fact, they may have reached peak saturation. But that doesn't mean the thrilling variety and utter craftsmanship of these accoutrements isn't cause for celebration. Of course, there were the shows we've come to expect ornamental baubles from, such as Simone Rocha, where models were crowned with loopy jeweled tiaras, Chanel, which saw sophisticated half-updos topped off with bows and pearl logo pendants, and Versace, with ornate metallic barrettes tucked behind the ears of runway regulars Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid. And then there were the awe-inspiring wild card moments from Area and Fashion East, offering up vivid crystal mesh headpieces and plastic amber combs warped into off-kilter shapes, respectively.
There's a Painterly Gaze for Everyone
At Collina Strada, makeup artist Takeda Rena blended soft, color-blocked washes of fluorescent bright pigments along the lids, brows, and outer corners of the eyes to Cubist effect. And in London, British makeup artist Isamaya Ffrench painted lids cobalt, tangerine, and crimson before layering on gold leaf at Halpern, then splashed multi-colored glitter onto gazes at Ashish. For the "futuristic, romantic Valentino girl," McGrath emphasized ethereal jolts of magenta and ultraviolet with alienesque bleached brows. But it wasn't just makeup that got an art school twist: At Mary Katrantzou, “color cloud” pastel extensions were woven into natural strands to complement the collection's pastel prints.
Pre-Raphaelite Textures Comes in All Shapes and Sizes
The fresh floral-decorated spirals and waves at Rodarte were clearly a harbinger of what was to come in the weeks that followed designer Kate and Laura Mulleavy’s California homecoming. Oscar de la Renta presented an array of brushed-out curl looks, while 3.1 Phillip Lim and Halpern each embraced a crimped texture reminiscent of Pre-Raphaelite locks. And on the final day of Paris Fashion Week, both Miu Miu and Louis Vuitton closed the month with a dizzying display of buoyant clouds of curls, the latter embodying the more-is-more silhouettes of the '80s.
Age Diversity Is Being Celebrated
In an ideal world, women above the age of 40 on the runway wouldn't be something to bat an eye at. Unfortunately there's still not enough age diversity, even in 2019. That being said, there were major strides made this season, beginning with Rachel Comey, where a powerful assemblage of middle-aged models had been cast. Then, at Michael Kors and Versace, the shows were closed by 62-year-old Patti Hansen and 50-year-old Stephanie Seymour, respectively. But the ageless beauty mic drop moment was still, without question, when the one and only Grace Jones shimmied and sashayed down the runway to her 1981 classic "Pull Up to the Bumper" at age 70 on the Tommy Hilfiger runway.
Braids Are All Kinds of Beguiling
Whether making a political statement, as was the case at Chromat in the spirit of sustainability, or just a celebration of the exquisite art of braiding, plaits were out in full force. On one end of the spectrum, there were Batsheva's kitschy loose pigtails laced with electric-hued extensions and, on Nicole Miller’s runway, rapper JZL the Empress's rainbow twin plaits stacked with color-coordinated plastic beads. On the other, there were the taut, intricately-woven braids at Tory Burch and Prada. But the greatest standout of all? For the girls with natural texture at Paco Rabanne, hairstylist Paul Hanlon created two different plaited styles; the first, cornrows blended into a tightly braided bun at the nape of the neck, and the other, two thick French braids with micro plaits running down along the center part.