If there is one big beauty story that came out of New York Fashion Week this September, it has been a sharpened focus on realness. Labor-intensive hairstyles were replaced by looks either striving for total normalcy or given the appearance of being sweat-soaked, the latter being deeply and unfortunately true to life, at least in New York.
Backstage at Rosie Assoulin, another kind of realism took shape, that being the use of the face's natural aging process as a source of beauty inspiration. In a youth-focused culture that is particularly unkind to women past a certain age — and in an industry where "youthful" and "fresh" are some of the most common descriptors of makeup looks — this kind of attitude was more than a little refreshing.
"For me [older women] are very inspiring because the play on light is even more present," said MAC makeup artist Lyne Desnoyers backstage. "As we grow older, our faces will have a tendency to be a bit more narrow, hence our bone structure stands out beautifully. I think it’s incredibly inspiring. Rosie kept saying, 'I want something that’s soulful.'"
Drawing on photographs of the artist Georgia O'Keeffe and dancer Pina Bausch as both young and older women, Desnoyers created a look that played up each model's unique bone structure. Starting with a powdered finish, she added creamy blush to the cheekbones and temples, using it as a mix between a flush and a highlighter. The focal point here was a soft brow with a touch of shadowing just below the inner end to add a little depth and mystery.
"The young Pina Bausch had this incredible eyebrow," she explains. "And then [when she was] older that eyebrow was even more emphasized by the natural shadows beneath."
Assoulin's age positivity is in good company: Charlotte Rampling recently starred in a Nars campaign, as did Jessica Lange for Marc Jacobs beauty. Just this week, the 46-year-old Vogue Paris editor Emmanuelle Alt expressed her complacency with aging, having just put Lauren Hutton on the cover of the magazine's beauty issue last year.
Still, it's a small club, and the popular sentiment maintains that men grow more dignified over time while women's physical value depreciates. A close crop of a weathered old male rocker's face rendered in black and white on the cover of Rolling Stone inspires in us a respectful, "What a boss." And it's true: That guy looks awesome because he's lived. But that's not a photo session many women get involved with.
Looking at a black and white photo of an older Pina Basuch with her hair neatly slicked back and her bone structure so distinctly hers, it really feels like it should be.