Two edgy hairstyles and a daring eyeshadow look reflect a strong, independent movement in beauty.
On an Oscars night when plots mattered down to the last envelope, three beauty story lines emerged early on.
That they were more daring looks — creative short hair, pink eye shadow and a severe center part — may say something of how we view women of our times: confident, self-possessed and not to be messed with.
Punky short hair
For actresses, fortunes are made on hair (ad campaigns, magazine covers and even roles). But the styles that had the most to say on Oscars night had the least amount of hair to work with.
In a sea of Veronica Lake waves and tasteful (if bland) low chignons, Scarlett Johansson’s side-shaved rock ’n’ roll pompadour felt especially fresh.
Johansson has been wearing cropped hair for about three years, but her hairstylist, Sean Mikel, created the current iteration just two days before the big event. “There are still varied lengths in this look, which gives her more versatility than a pixie,” Mikel says.
On Oscars night, Johansson turned to hairstylist Jenny Cho, who used Suave products (Honey Infusion 10-in-1 Leave-In Conditioning Cream and Sea Mineral Infusion Texturizing Sea Salt) to create texture, and Ouai Matte Pomade to form the rockabilly shape.
“I didn’t want it to be too precious,” Cho says, adding that she had originally considered a safer side-parted do before going with the cooler style. Besides, she says, “with short hair, you exude confidence because you can’t hide behind anything. It’s like a feminist movement happening in beauty right now.”
Ruth Negga has worn a variety of creative short styles throughout awards season. For Oscars night, her hair was nearly casual (gently curly and slightly voluminous) but for a ruby headband.
Negga’s hairstylist, Vernon François, says the actress likes to highlight her natural texture. “For a woman of color to show diversity by wearing her curls and to put it on the platform as big as the Oscars is pretty powerful,” François says.
Magenta, brick-red and baby-pink eye makeup has been spotted at fashion shows and on Instagram for several seasons now, but the trend is not for the faint of heart. Go too rosy and you look like a bunny. Veer too dramatic and you’re a character in “Memoirs of a Geisha.” So it was laudable that Negga and Naomie Harris worked the look with believable aplomb.
Harris’ deep magenta version, by makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic, was the boldest, complementing the slick graphic appeal of her white dress. Although the color spoke volumes, Dedivanovic used a light hand. He applied sheer washes of matte red hues (Chanel Quadra Eyeshadow in Candeur et Expérience), followed by a touch of coppery shimmer in the center of the eye.
“The idea was to look very fashion-forward, yet elegant and chic,” he says.
Makeup artist Frankie Boyd countered Johansson’s aggressive hair style with soft, beautiful makeup.
“With the hair she was doing, I didn’t want to do heavy makeup and make her look like a caricature,” he says. So, to shade the lid, he used pale rosy eye shadows (Nars Duo Eyeshadow in All About Eve and Velvet Shadow Stick in Hollywoodland).
Boyd knows that women at home may shy from pink for its possible pitfalls. He suggests “staying away from matte colors and using light shimmery hues instead.”
’90s center parts
While curling irons were surely in use Oscars night, the more attention-grabbing styles took a severe turn. Several center-parted looks — on Harris, Jessica Biel and Jennifer Aniston — hailed a return to the minimalism of the early ’90s.
“The mood right now is a little harder, with a little more structure,” says Adir Abergel, a hairstylist and Virtue creative director. He pointed to the center-parted updo with a sculptural flip in back that he created for Biel.
Abergel created an unbending blowout, then enhanced the smooth finish with Virtue’s One for All 6-in-1 Styler. To secure the updo shape, he used bobby pins and spritzed Virtue Finale Shaping Spray all over.
“For me, a middle part is a very strong dramatic statement,” he says. “And straight hair gives the look more strength, which says something of what we’re feeling of the times.”