For a long time L’Oréal has been a staple at Fashion Week. Behind the scenes creating the slick ponytails or the bold lips, there is no doubt that they have established their role backstage. In February 2016, it was announced that L’Oréal had become an official partner with Paris Fashion Week and this collaboration has continued ever since.
In the beauty world, L’Oréal has been making its mark this year. Their True Match campaign breaks down racial barriers and showcases 23 individuals, celebrities, and influencers alike, to tell their skin stories. Last month they brought out a capsule lipstick collection with Fashion House Balmain embodying three femininities: Safari, Rock and Couture. This seemed to be paving the way for their next move, entering into the world of fashion.
On Sunday 1 October, the Champs-Elysées became the setting for L’Oréal’s Le Défilé catwalk, showcasing 57 looks from 18 established as well as up-and-coming fashion houses. This event was revolutionary as the first ever fashion and beauty runway.
So what is the difference between a regular Paris Fashion Week show and L’Oréal’s? It’s hard to know where to begin.
In every fashion show, hair and makeup is important – you don’t want it to distract from the collection but you also don’t want the look to be ruined because the hair didn’t match. Finding a balance can be difficult. In this show, the hairstyles (something that L’Oréal knows a thing or two about) were just as important as the clothes themselves,. There was a mix of retro, perfectly coiffed, slicked back, and more natural hairstyles, but it was clear that everything was intentional. And presumably to create all these looks, there was a lot of Elnett used in its various forms to volumize, fix, and smoothen. What better way to show off its haircare line than by looking at the results?
The makeup looks for the show were broken down by theme: Arty Beauty combined colourful eyeshadow with lip art for something more daring; Rad Romance relied on a pink flush over the cheeks and temples offering a peachy take on the no-makeup makeup look ; Casual emphasised the lashes; Street Grrrl focused on two-tone lips with the Balmain special collection lipsticks (perfectly modelled by Cheryl); Glamour was just what you would expect with a natural face and a signature red lip; and Girl Boss made use of darker, berry tones for a more autumnal vibe. There was no real uniform with this makeup, every look offered us something completely different to focus on and straight after I was in Boots drooling over the L’Oréal stand trying to work out how I could make these catwalk looks work at a 9 am lecture or, failing that, my next soirée.
Paris Fashion Week is always an opportunity to do some celeb-spotting and L’Oréal certainly didn’t disappoint. There were big names in the modelling world like Doutzen Kroes, Grace Bol, and Maria Borges. Beauty and fashion influencers also took to the catwalk like Marcus Butler, Stephanie Giesinger, and Neelam Gill. But the best part about this show was the diversity: Jane Fonda (aged 79) closed the show in a glamorous Balmain ensemble, waving to the fans and visibly taking in this special moment; Dame Helen Mirren (aged 72), a L’Oréal ambassador, swung a cane about as she took to the stage in a variation on a riding outfit with wide-legged checkered trousers which I fell in love with; Winnie Harlow stunned (as usual) in an autumn toned dress; and Iskra Lawrence glided along in a beautiful floral gown. There was no doubt that this show was a spectacle to behold.
Despite all the big names and incredible makeup, there was one thing that shone in all of the ensembles shown. Empowerment. Nothing was too daring, no one seemed to take it too seriously, and everyone was having fun. Although not always the particular traits you look for in a fashion show, they were the ones that made this experience so special. There were some amazing pieces by Mulberry, Ami, Isabel Marant, David Koma, and others and yes, they were beautiful. Normally I would be analysing them all in minute detail, but that is not what this fashion show was about.
It was about looking at the person wearing these clothes: how comfortable they seemed, how effortless their hair looked, and the personality that was radiating out of each and every one of them as they made their way down the catwalk. L’Oréal has stepped out from behind the curtain to open Fashion Week up to more inclusive and diverse possibilities which I am excited to see in shows to come. It truly was beauty for all.