When Uoma Beauty and Walmart invited me to a beauty runway show in Los Angeles, I wasn't sure what to expect. While noteworthy beauty looks are often involved, runway shows are first and foremost about the clothes. How would this one highlight beauty — specifically, Uoma by Sharon C., Uoma Beauty Founder Sharon Chuter's new accessible line?
With Walmart resources (the mass chain is the line's exclusive retailer), an intimate venue, some clever set design, a diverse cast and help from famed celebrity (e.g. Beyoncé) makeup artist Sir John, it all worked surprisingly well. The space was small and, thanks to ol' Delta, limited to fewer than 60 guests, making it easy to see the models' faces as they walked down the runway, which was set up to look like a retail beauty aisle. Plus, there were large monitors set up along the walls to give the beauty looks extra visibility.
Chuter and Sir John cast real people, who wore real-people clothes, and walked with real personality. Speaking with Sir John, who keyed the show, it became clear that each look was ultimately about identity, not just makeup.
"I just feel like identity doesn't start and stop with wardrobe," he told me. "The lipstick that we choose, the way we position our eyeshadow, if we decide to wear mascara or not, it all changes our sense of self and increases our vibrations we send out to the world, so I didn't have to go over the top [with makeup] because I knew that once someone was feeling their look, they're gonna go out there and just work it. We took cues to make sure the wardrobe complemented the looks, so it wasn't about tons of color; it was about a really beautiful, soft palette."
Along with Sir John, Chuter has long been an advocate for inclusivity in the industry — see: Pull Up for Change — and her new line embodies that far beyond the people walking the runway.
"As much as people thought I was crazy — 'why would you take a prestige brand and create a mass version?' — I was like, firstly, because that's what inclusivity is," she explains. "You cannot say 'I'm an inclusive brand but if you don't have $50, take your broke ass home.' That's not inclusivity. That's why for me it was so important to meet people where they are. These products are all conscious ingredients... these are really good quality ingredients, completely eco-conscious, because if I was going to go to mass and I was going to be selling millions and millions of units, it was important that this wouldn't end up in the ocean."
Uoma by Sharon C. so far comprises skin-focused, everyday staples like a foundation with skin-care ingredients, cleansing wipes, an oil cleanser, a vitamin C serum, a tinted lip oil (which Sir John calls a "game-changer") and a mascara, all of which are vegan and cruelty-free and come in recyclable packaging. And in addition to being accessible, they feel reflective of the quieter makeup era we seem to be in right now. Though as things start to open up post-pandemic, beauty trends can be hard to navigate, so we asked the experts their thoughts.
Per Sir John, it's all about individuality: "I think we're in an era where we're leaving trends behind and everyone has their own personal interpretation of what's sexy, what's beautiful, and what's cool and now. If you have a lipstick that's seemingly not in style but it makes you feel something, or connected to yourself, own it, rock it. That happened because of social media; it's giving people the ability to know that, I can do things my way."
Plus, after a year spent makeup-free in our pajamas, less is more. "We're in an era of skinimalism," adds John. "Gone are the years of lacquering yourself to just lacquer yourself. What is that gonna do? I think people are comfortable wearing less."
Chuter, who calls Sir John her "secret co-conspirator," is on the same page.
"Even today, my makeup artist who did my makeup, I was like, 'softer, softer,' so I think we've all gotten used to this life," she said. "We're gonna see an in between: People are still gonna use color but it's still gonna be a skin-forward focus, which I love. I think that's gonna happen for a few years before color returns."
See photos from the Uoma by Sharon C. beauty show in the gallery below, and shop the full collection below that.
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