With a few exceptions — the rave-inspired looks at Diesel and elaborate rose appliqués and petal-fringed eyes at Simone Rocha come to mind — a less-is-more approach to runway beauty prevailed again this season during the Fashion Week shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris.
Maybe the choice was intended to keep the focus on the clothes, or perhaps, given the current economic climate (yes, “in this economy”), many designers and artists turned away from elaborate hairstyles and theatrical makeup and leaned into more approachable looks.
Still, subtle doesn’t have to be boring. From minimal-yet-graphic nail art to sleek headbands and precise ponytails, here are five beauty trends that brought drama to the Spring 2024 runway shows. Try them out to bring the same effect to your look next season.
Smooth tresses shined in low ponytails at Victoria Beckham, MM6 Maison Margiela and Balmain. Hairstylists like Sam McKnight and Gary Gill used simple elastics to tie up the hair, but the key to this seemingly effortless look is having, as McKnight describes it, healthy, “freshly cleansed and nourished” hair.
The must-have hair accessory this season? The humble headband, ideally in plain black or another neutral colour. At Molly Goddard, a ribbon headband was used to help high-contrast “power fringe” bangs stand apart, while the updos at Helmut Lang looked locked in place thanks to a tight hairband — and plenty of product.
Subtle and striking nail art
There was something refreshing and relatable about the short, natural-looking nails at shows like Helmut Lang, Jason Wu and Simone Rocha. But these digits were anything but plain. On top of a clear or sheer coat, the nail artists that worked each show added stickers and minimalist, hand-drawn designs to complement the creative elements of each collection.
There were plenty of beautiful, perfectly painted red lips on the spring runways, but the dark, high-gloss colours at Junya Watanabe and Burberry made a bolder impression. At Dior, makeup artist Peter Philips created a “witchy” look by applying a black lipliner to the centre of the lip and blending outward.
Remember the slick, sculptural hair from Spring 2023? It’s back, but looser and with a bit more movement and personality. At Jason Wu, hair artist Jimmy Paul wanted to create a wet-hair look that “felt like the models just emerged from a shipwreck.” There were glossy finger waves at Giorgio Armani, too; the show was inspired by vibrations and their “undulating movements and rippling weaves.”