Is it coincidence that the spring/summer 2014 show season invariably finishes just as I sit down to write about autumn/winter 2013’s real-time cosmetics upgrade? Maybe it’s some fashion conspiracy to confuse and derail the footsore beauty editor who has elbowed her way through countless dressing rooms, forgetting models’ names (they all look the same once you’re past a certain age) and irritating hair and make-up artists by asking, for the millionth time, “How did you get the look?”
When you have backstage videos blogged as soon as they’ve happened, six months ahead seems more like now, while now (fashion crime alert) feels way over. Particularly when MAC and Burberry sell their wares hot off the catwalk: Burberry’s six seasonal nail colours could be ordered instantly, for delivery within three weeks of the show (for those who didn’t act immediately, you’ve missed the “exclusive” and now you’ll have to wait like everyone else until January; MAC’s Forecast Palettes, however, as used backstage, are still available at £35). Not only that, but within hours of the last model stomping off the Burberry catwalk, I had an email from a copycat nail company offering a boxed set of six “Burberry-like” colours.
As a result, seasons have become one big blur of trans-seasonal, any-seasonal irrelevance – which is not to say that the looks aren’t in themselves beautiful (they are) but that supposed “trends” don’t really matter any more.
Far more exciting is simply considering what new products are available for a quick make-up bag upgrade. Swapping your tinted lipgloss for a lipstick that packs a punch, renouncing a love affair with coloured mascaras for Bobbi Brown’s lush black Smokey Eye Mascara (£22) – all can provide as much of a dopamine rush as packing away summer’s wardrobe or rediscovering the feel of cashmere.
Then there’s Charlotte Tilbury’s eponymous launch. The make-up artist is loved by everyone from former Vogue Paris editor Carine Roitfeld to photographers Mert and Marcus for her creativity and perfectionism. Years ago, she told me her goal was a range that was easy to understand and use, with a transformational feel. Now she’s done it.
The idea is you choose from a series of different looks – the Rock Chick, or Dolce Vita (think Sophia Loren or Beyoncé) or the Ingénue (a young Mia Farrow, or Alexa Chung) – then buy the make-up for that look, apply it, and off you go, like a contestant on that old TV show Stars in their Eyes, with a “Tonight Matthew, I am Alexa Chung!”
Tilbury’s trademark is a Bardot-esque eye, so if you were to try just one thing, you’d do well to pick her Feline Flick eye pen (from £22), as easy to use as a felt-tip pen. For something beautiful to pull out of your handbag, the Filmstar Bronze & Glow palette (from £49) is a bronzer and highlighter in a rose-gold effect compact. But having watched Tilbury spend more than 20 minutes on one girl’s eyebrows backstage at Tom Ford, personally I’m planning to try out the Brow-Lift (from £22.50) with a brow pencil and highlighter at one end and a brow brush at the other.
Incidentally, that’s one trend that actually does qualify as a trend, so if you’ve been keeping your brows thin in the hope that the Cara Delevingne effect will waver and die, dream on.
For lips, there are two items I want in my cosmetics bag this season. First, MAC’s All Fired Up Retro Matte (from £15); if you love MAC’s Ruby Woo, a classic red, you’ll adore All Fired Up, which has the same texture but in a bold, bright pink. You can wear black from head to toe and walk to work under skies as grey as lead but put this lipstick on and I challenge you to be anything but happy. Lancôme’s new L’Absolu Velours lip colours (from £20) are also fantastic – they feel like gloss but hold like lipstick, and the intense plum shade (no 493), is the one I’m going for.
Foundation is the other thing. If you’re over 35 and hate the thought of highly pigmented goo collecting in your wrinkles, please rethink your prejudice and try By Terry’s Terrybly Densiliss (£75), which is 50 per cent skincare serum and 50 per cent coverage. I know it’s a ridiculous name but its creator, Terry de Gunzburg, invented YSL Touche Eclat under-eye highlighter many moons ago, and this might just be as big a hit, judging by the launch pictures, which featured before-and-after shots. Lines, pigmentation, you name it, were all but gone.
Pop on a little Chanel Joues Contraste powder blush in 86 Discretion – a heartwarming rose pink (from £31, out on October 18, limited edition), and there you have it. A new look for a new season, and not a trend in sight.