Why beauty reigned supreme at New York Fashion Week

For spring/summer 2020 New York Fashion Week ran on a shorter schedule. This was down to CFDA chairman, Tom Ford, who clearly took into account the years of feedback claiming the schedule is too long, saying that he's, "...conscious of people's time and budget".

Nonetheless, this year's NYFW garnered just as much attention. There was a nine-year-old amputee walking the runway at Lulu et Gigi, a 1970s Harlem party at Tommy Hilfiger, a phone ban at Savage X Fenty and an outright dig at the Trump administration at Prabal Gurung, where models wore sashes with the words “Who gets to be American?” splashed across them.

Beauty equally racked up the column inches this week thanks to an abundance of bold colour and decoration over the usual beach wave and 'no makeup' makeup, typical of New York shows. Key influences were also fresh and astonishingly timely. Take for example Euphoria; never has a television show made such a cultural impact in so little time. The HBO teen drama first aired in America on June 16 and a mere three months later saw clones of its characters on the New York Fashion Week runways. 

Known for its shock value alongside its experimental Gen Z beauty looks (think big neon and accessorised eyes), Euphoria was referenced several times over the four days by creative directors. The best take on this theme was at Chromat, Christian Siriano, Jason Wu, Sies Marjan and Ulla Johnson where the likes of Maybelline New York and INIKA Organic provided neon eyeshadow painted structurally across lids and under bottom lashes. Pyer Moss and Area also had rhinestones out in full force.

“This is what I love about Gen Z and Millennials, is that bringing art into one’s own look is not, ooh, that’s wild. It’s fun, it’s creative and it’s accepted, it’s embraced. That show is gonna continue to have a strong influence,” M.A.C makeup artist Fatima Thomas told WWD backstage at Chromat. “Makeup serves us, we don’t serve it.”

Elsewhere, hair stylists were also pushing boundaries by featuring wigs, heavy adornment and wrapped pony tails. At Jonathan Cohen, fabric was woven through braids to create a look inspired by Frida Kahlo and Mexican folklore. Most, however, went for interesting but attainable looks. WWD closely covered beauty at the shows and settled on two principle themes: "hair accessories and adornments and a continued embracement of natural hair textures," that's thought to represent, "where consumers attitudes towards hair as it relates to personal style are moving".

Ribbons, combs, wraps and headbands were ubiquitous on both the catwalks and the influencers outside on the street.

The playful pitch of the week extended moreover to nails. Intricate half moon designs in bright colours sat alongside unconventional press-ons using hardware like metal wiring at Tibi and mixed metal and pearl studs at Rui Zhou. Here, artist Sarah Nguyen used CND and press-ons by Kiss. Again, beauty media ferociously took notes at Chromat after models took to the runway with a reinvented version of the brand's logo painted on their nails.