16/07/2024 9:03 AM


Piece of That Fashion

That’s Fashion, Sweetie: A touchup on what makeup means


women holding makeup brushes to her face.
Art can come in many forms. One that is often overlooked or not considered is makeup, which can be a versatile form of self-expression. (Photo couresty of Creative Commons)

Fashion and art are best compared to fruit: They can originate from the same tree but often fall down different paths. But, as they come from the same tree, they have moments in which their common makeup surfaces. 

In art, fashion is often brought up, especially through themes of vanity or animal abuse — such as David Hammons and his graffitied fur coats display. The reverse is just as true, as fashion constantly pays homage to great artists, like Jeremy Scott’s Moschino Spring 2020 Picasso-inspired collection. 

However, fashion can also incorporate aspects of performance art. One famous example of this is Alexander McQueen’s robots spraying model Shalom Harlow with paint in his 1999 Spring RTW collection. Another is Issey Miyake’s Spring 2020 RTW show, where her dresses were floated down by a pulley only to be slipped onto and pulled down models who then bounced and danced around the runway space.

On the fashion tree, the makeup and beauty industry falls quite far from its other siblings. If makeup weren’t so influential, it wouldn’t be a huge marketplace for businesses like Sephora and publications like Allure and Byrdie. Additionally, if beauty was supposed to be separate from fashion and its industry, then there wouldn’t be hundreds of makeup artists and specialists backstage, and Vogue would not have its iconic “Beauty Secrets” series (that I secretly and shamelessly perform as I prep in the morning). 

So, then, can makeup also be considered performance art on the same plane as fashion? 

One TikToker, Instagrammer and artist who uses makeup as an art medium is Las Vegas-based Madrona Redhawk, known online as @madroni_redclock. Often playing with different mediums such as forks or plates to create her looks, ranging from avant-garde to everyday styles, her work has amassed a massive following and features in Samsung’s Galaxy A commercials. However, her videos and photos range from applying makeup through odd mediums, performance art and different intricate looks.

Her emphasis on makeup, while primarily exploratory and fun, also sheds light on what makeup can mean. It can be as simple as enhancing certain physical features, but, for others, it can be a form of self-expression and accessorization. Additionally, for certain industries, it can amplify a more prominent subject, such as Prada’s minimalistic makeup to accompany Raf Simons’ recent vision, or the usage of eye makeup in HBO’s hit show “Euphoria” which changes and reflects the character’s development. 

But, just like any art form, what can add a lot of pressure to makeup and beauty in everyday life is the quality of “good” versus “bad.” I know firsthand how embarrassing and even shameful it can feel when someone criticizes your makeup skills, especially when you’re in public or if you’ve spent a lot of time on it. With the craze of effortless “natural” beauty inspired by celebrities such as Devon Lee Carlson and Bella Hadid, it seems that more is more, yet less is more too. So, if art can be subjective, why can’t makeup be as well? 

I guess this just becomes cyclical then, asking what exactly defines art and performance art. Does there have to be an underlying meaning behind an artist’s choices, or can it still be artistic if it is just an expression of one’s emotions?

In a confusing world often consisting of chasing and following others, why not pioneer a route for yourself (even if it has been done before). Come on, now — it’s hot girl summer again! Follow your gut, be intuitive and live out your best, most expressive and explorative summer yet.

Hadyn Phillips is a rising sophomore writing about fashion in the 21st century, specifically spotlighting students and popular controversy in her column, “That’s Fashion, Sweetie.” 


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