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Black Eyeliner Gets Reinvented at New York Fashion Week

Makeup artist Tom Pecheux summed up black eyeliner’s timeless and universal appeal quite succinctly backstage at Rag & Bone: “It’s what you do when you want to look sexy and cool.” That’s why it became the signature look of badass style icons like Cleopatra, Brigitte Bardot, and Courtney Love. It’s the reason you automatically whip out your black pencil for a night out. And it explains why we see it year after year, season after season, at a majority of fashions shows in New York City, which is probably the coolest of the four cities that show collections this month (I could also be a bit biased). But no matter how cool and timeless black eyeliner is, there’s no denying that makeup artists can get bored of doing it and beauty editors can get tired of writing about it. So it’s not really a surprise that makeup artists are not necessarily trying to reinvent the wheel this season, but at least trying to make the wheel more exciting.

“The inspiration for this look is all about modernizing the way we wear eyeliner—deconstructing it and doing it in a new way,” said makeup artist Francelle Daly backstage at 3.1 Phillip Lim on Monday. But instead of adding fancy swirls or exaggerated wings, Daly started taking things away. After encircling the top and bottom lashes with Nars Carpates Eyeliner Stylo and lining the inner rims with black pencil, Daly took a cotton swab dipped in cleansing water and erased both the inner and outer corners of the top and bottom lines. “The lines are still quite perfect but we’re just cutting the corners of them,” she explained.

RELATED: What Is Kohl Eyeliner, Really?

Makeup artist Dick Page also played around with deconstructing lines at Narciso Rodriguez. Inspired by illustrator Tony Viramontes (whose work influenced Rodriguez’s collection as well), Page broke up the liner underneath the lower lashes into a series of dots and dashes. Using a mix of black pencil and brown cream shadow, Page made a smudge along the outer half of the lower lash line followed by a tiny little smudge just under the tear duct.

And at Rag & Bone, Pecheux played with the contrast between sharp and smoky, lining the waterline with

and then smudging a mix of black gel liner, black powder shadow, and mascara around the eyes for a look that was lived-in yet unexpectedly pretty. “We wanted the girls to look cool, but not aggressive,” he explained. “And it’s the kind of makeup that you will always see and will always be cool and sexy and a bit naughty.” This time around, however, it’s all of those things and more.

Watch Page as he talks about where he finds color inspiration:

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