Fall Beauty 2017: The Biggest Hair, Makeup and Nail Messages of the Season

Beauty Director, Lesa Hannah, and Associate Beauty Editor, Souzan Michael, explore the 10 biggest beauty messages of the season.

Nothing says summer’s over like a fall beauty trend report, right? Actually, maybe not. Recently, we posed the question “Should we retire the term ‘beauty trends’?” and explored the idea that it might be an outdated term. You can read all about that here. So while we certainly still attend fashion weeks and go backstage and watch shows and notice recurring themes, like red lipstick and nail art, we recognize that the concept of beauty trends isn’t as relevant to, like, real life, as it once was. So we’re shifting the dialogue a bit. Rather than calling them ‘beauty trends,’ we’ll call them ‘beauty messages’ for now.

Now for the good stuff…

This season’s top beauty messages are more playful and bright, and less “plum lipstick and brown eyeshadow”-focused. Between neon, colour-blocked eyelids and the unexpected return of actual nail art, it’s looking like we have a lot of experimenting to do (and a lot of YouTube tutorials to watch). Also making a comeback: washing your hair! Yes, really. After what seems like an eternity of Olsen twin-inspired strands reigning supreme, clean hair is finally reclaiming its throne. And the fall runways have also done the impossible: found a way to reinvent the most classic of classic makeup looks, the red lip.

Below you’ll find our picks for the ten biggest hair, nail and makeup messages of the season, and the Fall 2017 runway shows that inspired them.

Metallic Eyeshadow

Metallic eyeshadow is generally an easy sell. Atop a smoky eye, it adds depth, dimension, and most importantly, interest. It’s actually kind of an obvious choice. But this season, the fall runways were filled with more modern iterations of an old standby. Take, for instance, the burnt orange variety at Christian Siriano, complete with an almost melting aspect at the outer corners. The designer’s inspiration? “A Victorian goth walking through the Valley of Fire [in Nevada],” said makeup artist Polly Osmond. “She’s not all there in the head. Not quite right.” At Elie Saab, the look was much prettier and more wearable, blending black and grey and glitter to create a silver topcoat-like effect. At Laura Biagiotti, models wore gold eyeshadow smeared across their lids for a pretty, but carelessly pretty, finish.
—Souzan Michael


In case you haven’t opened Instagram in two years, pink is having a (long) moment. Earlier this year, we outlined its history and explored exactly how and when it shed its Barbie associations to become the cool girl shade. When it comes to makeup, the same rules apply. Those rules, of course, being that there are no rules anymore. While the shade would formerly be used in moderation, to avoid looking too cutesy, on the runways this season, designers went all out. Pink, in all its variations, was painted onto lips, eyes and cheeks. Whether it was ultra-pale (also known as millennial pink), like at Delpozo, or bright like the makeup at Aigner, or coral, like at Isabel Marant and Marchesa, a monochromatic rosy shade seemed to be the look of the season.
—Souzan Michael

The Red Lip, Reinvented

The classic crimson mouth never really goes out of style—see the handful of models who wore it at Jason Wu and Prada—but the way in which the colour was applied this season veered in all sorts of directions. Lip liners may be trending, but precision was thrown by the wayside at Rosie Assoulin, Paskal and Giambattista Valli, where softened and blurred edges defined the look. Things got messy at Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, where Val Garland’s extremely smeared application was intended to give a post-makeout vibe, while the corners of mouths were completely ignored at Kenzo and Andrew Gn.
—Lesa Hannah

Black Eye Makeup

This season, black eye makeup felt like it was a rejection of the flawless makeup of social media, where the precision of winged liner is often rewarded with double taps. From the graphic stamps at Versace and Saint Laurent, done by Pat McGrath and Tom Pecheux, respectively, to the deconstructed double wings at Marni and Balmain, the message was clear: Imperfection is key. At Victoria Beckham, McGrath drew a thick grey wing on models with her fingers. “It’s geometric but imperfect,” she says. “A bit rebellious.” At Saint Laurent, Pecheux applied random strokes of liner onto models’ lids, while at Marni, McGrath customized each model’s makeup—some got a dainty wing, while others got a block of greased-up pigment over their entire lids. At Mugler, Lisa Butler created negative space liner that ran from the inner corner to the brow bone for a look that appeared simultaneously sharp and effortless.
—Souzan Michael

Hair Ribbons

Whether grosgrain, satin or velvet, black ribbons were the clear coif accessory of choice this season, elevating simple hairstyles with a touch of Victorian romance. At Tory Burch, Guido Palau wrapped thick, floppy ones around low ponytails, a nod to Katharine Hepburn’s character in the 1940 film The Philadelphia Story, and over at Marchesa, Antonio Corral Calero attached Minnie Mouse-sized ones to French twists. Across the pond, Calero had the models at Temperley London wear velvet strips like headbands as well as chokers. And at Rochas in Paris, small, neat bows added a bit of refinement to Paul Hanlon’s smooth loops encased in hairnets.
—Lesa Hannah

Colourful Eye Makeup

“The two most important words in beauty are ‘Why not?’” says makeup artist Dick Page backstage at Zadig & Voltaire. Models wore minimal makeup, except for six girls whose eyelids were covered with paintlike splotches. “The colour interventions appear as accents throughout the show,” he says. “The same way you’d accessorize an outfit with something bright.” At Versus Versace, Lucia Pieroni used lipsticks to paint geometric blocks on models’ eyes, while at Maison Margiela, Pat McGrath created dozens of colour-blocked makeup combinations. At Oscar de la Renta, Tom Pecheux created a multicoloured eye, citing happiness as the inspiration.
—Souzan Michael

Clean Hair

Perhaps it’s in retaliation against second- or third-day hair, but shampoo emerged as one of the most essential hair products of the season. The light, fluffy feel that you get from air-dried, squeaky-clean strands was one of the most requested textures by designers, according to hairstylist Guido Palau. Though Palau added the tiniest bit of product for extra shine or texture at Ralph Lauren, hair was essentially naked at Victoria Beckham. Manes had a similar childlike, untouched-looking quality at Stella McCartney and Chloé, where Eugene Souleiman described it as “real-person hair.”
—Lesa Hannah


The ability of braids to amplify a cultural message can’t be overstated, which is why plaits continue to show up on runways. This season, Alberta Ferretti used a messy, chunky braid to add an easy touch of glamour. The twisted-braid crown at Alice + Olivia screamed bohemian music festival. Rihanna’s Fenty x Puma featured Joan Smalls sporting four straight-back cornrows along her scalp, at once enhancing the street style feel of the collection and paying homage to the black cultural lineage that inspired its design. That cultural context—and respect—isn’t always reflected, as we saw in Valentino’s “African-inspired” Spring 2016 show. This season, the industry appears to be, slowly but surely, heightening its awareness about the cultural significance of cornrows, box braids and other popularized black braid transformations.
—Amani Bin Shikhan

The Return of Nail Art

It’s baaaack. (If you read that in an ominous voice in your head, you might have been right to do so.) Nail art, like real nail art (not the minimalist, negative space prettiness that we’ve gotten used to) is making a comeback—at least on the runways, it is. From the neon green and black stripes at Pucci to the most maximalist, bedazzled, long and square talons at Gucci, this season clearly has no interest in subtlety. Chrome is still going strong, too, with gold foil nails stealing the spotlight at Mulberry. Over at Marc Jacobs, logo nails made an appearance (remember those?), with models’ tips spelling out—what else—Marc Jacobs.
—Souzan Michael

Exaggerated Eyelashes

Most people neglect their bottom eyelashes, and it’s not hard to see why. Between the chances of smudging, getting in the way of concealer and drawing attention to the under eye area, it’s a risky endeavour. But this season’s fall runway shows seem to have one thing in mind (when it comes to lashes, at least): persuading us to change our minds. From the drawn on and glitter-fied lashes at Tadashi Shoji, to the mega-falsies at MSGM and Jeremy Scott, bottom eyelashes are finally getting the attention they deserve. Hey, if the look was good enough for Twiggy, it’s good enough for us.
—Souzan Michael

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