While style trends often leap off the runway after a few shows, impossible to ignore, hair, grooming and beauty ones can be a bit harder to unearth — especially at the menswear shows.
Yet for Fall 2023, makeup artists and hairstylists seem to have been given clear instructions from the artistic directors of the brands: make a statement.
Whether it was with decidedly retro hairstyles, modified irises or dramatically painted faces (including tomatoes painted on models at JW Anderson, which didn’t make the list below), these beauty looks were anything but quiet.
Here are five statement-making trends from Men’s Fashion Week to know about.
Our eyes have become even more than the mirrors of our souls in the age of facial recognition, biometric scanning and mass surveillance. This made it all the more significant to be confronted with sets of anonymous eyes, made to look entirely black or white, and with irises turned another colour entirely.
It’s become somewhat familiar to see models walking the Rick Owens show with some form of facial modification, including coloured contacts. This season, some were wearing black lenses, a look further dramatized with black geometric face paint (more on that in a bit) in some cases. At Loewe, it was all about bright eyes; white contacts were worn by a handful of models, while others were given red or yellow irises.
We see smoke
If you’re not feeling up for the jarring look that is the all-black or -white eyeball, there’s always the classic smoky eye to fall back on. Judging by the Fall 2023 shows, the tried-and-true look will be making a comeback toward the end of the year.
Nowhere was this more obvious — and more smoky — than at Charles Jeffrey Loverboy, where the designer showed a collection partly inspired by industrialism, with face makeup meant to imitate soot. The the smoky eye, however, was created with vibrant colours, which made for an interesting juxtaposition.
At Fendi, more juxtaposition, as models sported smoky eye looks that were in stark contrast to the otherwise natural faces.
Some looks went beyond typical makeup and into face-paint territory. There were irreverent, colourful swirls painted all over models’ faces at the JW Anderson show in Milan, and angular lines — dark and downright dramatic — surrounding eyes at the Rick Owens show in Paris.
Meanwhile, at the Walter van Beirendonck show, a curving line snaked from the neck to the eye of one model, passing along his face and skull, while small circles were dotted around the eyes of others.
In recent seasons, longer hair has been a reliable look on the menswear runways. And for Fall 2023, it had texture to it.
At Zegna, Giorgio Armani and Jan-Jan Van Essche, long-haired models were sent out with gentle waves set in their hair. At JW Anderson and Etro, models walked out with medium-length hair in roughly tousled ‘dos.
In Paris, at Bluemarble, there were untamed waves and curls, while Comme des Garçons Homme Plus featured models with wildly blown out bangs seen through wire-frame headwear.
All in all, the looks were relaxed and spoke to the idea of embracing one’s hair — even on a bad hair day — rather than smoothing things down and trying to gain control.
Another trend was hair with a decidedly retro feel.
At Martine Rose in Florence, there were permed hairstyles — seemingly taken from the pages of an ’80s salon catalogue — to match the kitschy clothes.
In Paris, the retro shift went a little further back. At Kenzo, where Nigo is ever obsessed with vintage style (particularly with an American, prep-adjacent bend), models walked down the runway with straightened mops, mod bobs, crisp bangs and mid-length afros — all hairstyles one might find on a film set in the ’60s. At Casablanca, a retro-themed collection was accompanied by more ’60s-era hairstyles, from hairsprayed waves to bobs.
Taking retro inspiration to the extreme, Charles Jeffrey Loverboy’s show in Milan offered a timelapse of sorts. Sprinkled throughout were bobs, punk blowouts, a dramatic Victorian-inspired coif and rockabilly styles that looked like they had been shellacked with tar.
What’s old really is new again. Grab some hairspray.
Marc Richardson is a Montreal-based writer and photographer. His work focuses on fashion, culture and the intersection between the two. He’s spent the better part of the last decade observing and cataloguing menswear from New York and London to Florence and Paris. You can follow him on Twitter @quicklongread and Instagram @shooting.people.