Black eye shadow isn't necessarily the first makeup look you might think of when going for “wearable.” Black Swan, Morticia Addams, Jenny Humphrey from Gossip Girl, Julia Fox, Kris Jenner—the list of black eye shadow references is long and probably not found on your “everyday makeup” Pinterest board.
Wearing black eye shadow is very much like putting on a character. The shade is so bold and transformative that it's hard not to feel almost like a different person when wearing it. But considering the past few years we've lived through, don't we all need a little escapism?
Designers at New York Fashion Week certainly think so. Black eye shadow has dominated the runways this season, appearing at a staggering number of shows. So far, Marc Jacobs, Jason Wu, Helmut Lang, Prabal Gurung, Altuzarra, Alice & Olivia, PatBo, and Area have all used black eye makeup on models.
The fall 2024 presentations at NYFW mark the beginning of the CFDA's official fashion calendar, serving as a beacon for the rest of the year. However, there's no denying Pat McGrath set a beauty precedent a few weeks ago during Paris Couture Week on January 26, with her internet-breaking porcelain-skin makeup at Maison Margiela's spring 2024 show.
As much as runway beauty looks can surprise and delight, they can also bore. Designers and key makeup artists at NYFW seemed to forgo the usual clean skin and minimal makeup for something much more bold—a welcome change that follows McGrath's lead.
Marc Jacobs kicked things off on February 2 with dramatic extra-long eyelashes. Inspired by Diana Ross in the 1960s, key makeup artist Diane Kendal layered false lashes and applied black nail lacquer to them instead of mascara.
“We used lashes on the top and bottom. We actually coated the lashes with black nail polish to give that really ‘cloggy’ look so they're a bit spidery,” Kendal shared in a press release. “Next, we lined the eyes with a black eyeliner followed by black duo glue, to give a real density to the eye. We did lashes on the top and bottom, but only used eyeliner on the top.”
At Jason Wu and Helmut Lang, Black Swan–esque makeup hit the runway. Key makeup artist Daniel Salstrom used MAC Cosmetics Black Black Paint Stick to create six variations of the look, utilizing areas like the undereye and across the bridge of the nose for a masklike effect.
Kendal also created the makeup look at Jason Wu. For an artful winged appearance, she applied the Jason Wu Beauty Jewel Stick in Solid Black all over the eyelid and smudged outward, followed by the Hot Fluff Lash Mascara on lashes.
More straightforward approaches to black eye shadow appeared at Prabal Gurung, Altuzarra, Alice & Olivia, and PatBo with all designers opting for diffused smoky eyes blended out to the brow bone.
Makeup artist Romero Jennings created the cat-eye shape at Prabal Gurung with MAC Cosmetics and was “inspired by the dark romance theme” of the collection. He used the Black Color Gel Pencil Eyeliner smudged and blended out around the eyes, before applying the Black Black Paint Stick on lids. Lastly, he used the Feline Eye Kohl Pencil to intensify.
For the makeup at PatBo, Stila Cosmetics global beauty director Charlie Riddle created smoky eyes against shiny satin skin for a “juxtaposition of soft and striking.” On the eyes, Riddle used the Smudge Pot to smudge out the lash line, followed by Suede Shade Liquid Eye Shadow in shade Sheer Stone. To finish, he applied the Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner to intensify the lash line and coats of the Huge Extreme Lash Mascara.
“The ‘clean girl’ aesthetic is out—makeup is back on the runway.” said Riddle in a press release. “The PatBo girl has a delicate femininity that comes into play, with soft-focused skin and swept on blush. It feels very feminine and fragile against the intensity of the smoked-out eye.”
At Area, the eye look was much more graphic, featuring opaque black shadow and a ’60s-inspired shape. Makeup artist Kanako Takase, who is the global creative director of Addiction Tokyo, created the look using The Eyeshadow Cream in Black Beach and The Eyeshadow Matte in Bad Car.
“The eyes as a symbol always speak to us because they connect so many of our favorite art forms like Pop Art in the ’60s or surrealism in the 1920s; from Warhol to Man Ray,” she said in a press release.
Watch this space and pick up some black shadow—looks like 2024 is for the emo beauty girls.
Ariana Yaptangco is the senior beauty editor at Glamour. Follow her @arianayap.
Originally Appeared on Glamour