How to define beauty in 2015? With runway looks changing dramatically each season and new inspirations being endlessly provided online, it’s no longer about one trend that will speak of now to future generations.
Influenced by religious icons, portraiture, pop art and tribal decorations, the illustrator Joe Cruz chooses to celebrate beauty using found imagery, a photocopier and chalk pastels: “I’m trying to create a new aesthetic to embrace the feeling of youth in our generation.” The brightly coloured results speak of strong women and diversity in all aspects.
In earlier decades, beauty was easier to pinpoint. Back then, it usually related to a specific era, a celebrity, an ideal based on a certain body shape, gender, race, age, country or social status. In the 1970s it focused on hair length and volume, and shiny, embellished make-up. Then came the 1980s and big hair, and bright make-up colours reigned supreme. The 1990s was the age of grunge and heroin chic, when fashion magazines embraced a painfully thin physique, a gaunt face and hollow-eyed look. The 2000s brought hair extensions, lash extensions and Botox into the collective beauty consciousness of the masses.
Nowadays, thanks to social media and the digital world, we can find thousands of examples of the current beauty trends, making it harder to predict what will be current next month, season or year. The playing field has widened and the only thing we know for sure is that beauty today is an individual expression of a mash-up of trends, interests, song lyrics and whatever else moves us.
Make-up, adornment and beauty ideals have been positively affected by this new individuality. Even gender stereotypes are slowly being broken down as men, too, join the beauty party by wearing make-up if they choose to and by redefining ideas about what beauty means to them.
The British make-up artist Pat McGrath, who has worked on campaigns for Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci, and is often referred to as the most influential make-up artist in the world, summed it up in an interview with Vogue last June, saying: “Make-up should be playful and be a form of expression that’s worn to inspire confidence. If you feel great in the look you’ve created for yourself, I’d call it a success!”
Words by Tsemaye Opubor
Artwork by Joe Cruz