Beauty

Mod Makeup Is The Retro Beauty Trend Making A Big Comeback

Transporting us back in time, today’s stars and makeup artists are calling upon the bold beauty looks of the Swinging Sixties
Reading time 4 minutes

The nostalgic allure of the Swinging Sixties continues to exert a strong pull on today's beauty trends, as is evident in the artfully executed makeup looks that hark back to the Mod era, such as cat-eye liner with the sharpest of wings, cut crease shadow accentuating the hood of the eyelid, and lashes for days. Current It girls like Ariana Grande, Kaia Gerber and Lily-Rose Depp have all tapped into the radical makeup inspired by the Mods — a subculture of London youth who described themselves as modernists.

Before Grande or Gerber, however, models Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton were the cover girls of the 1960s Youth Quake. Proclaimed as the “Face of 1966”, fashion icon Twiggy once explained, “What happened for the first time in the mid-'60s [was] that we didn't want to look like our mums, we wanted to look different." 

With a collective non-conformist ethos, the Mods sparked a revolution through their space age looks and bohemian trends.

Similar to the socially and politically turbulent times of the 1960s, Millennials and Gen Z-ers continue to fight the status quo with individual autonomy and expressive agency. Unafraid to stand up or stand out, young people are using fashion and beauty to make a statement. 

Acting as an homage to the Kennedy era, Grande's Positions album cover art and lead single music video see the powerhouse vocalist donning flippy bouffants and Jackie O-inspired garb (pillbox hats and all), while singing and dancing in a recreation of the White House. But the real vintage standout is her quintessentially ‘60s glam, with fierce eyeliner and voluminous lashes. Blowing up on social media, Grande's makeup has become the latest viral trend on TikTok, with thousands of users showing off their own Mod makeup and creating tutorials so that others can copy Grande’s chic look too.

Supermodel Gerber also underwent a recent transformation, as she and boyfriend Jacob Elordi decided to make a retro reference for Halloween this year. Dressing up as Elvis and Priscilla Presley, Gerber’s look came courtesy of hairstylist Charlie Le Mindu and makeup artist Sam Visser, the latter of which has also done Mod-inspired glam for celebrities like Depp. Calling on Sharon Tate, whose beauty influence returned to the limelight with Margot Robbie's recent portrayal of Tate in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Visser transferred her signature negative space, cut crease eyeliner looks to Depp. 

Giving us the '60s fix we need, Netflix's The Queen’s Gambit sees Anya Taylor-Joy glammed up à la award-winning actress Natalie Wood. Taylor-Joy’s character, Beth Harmon, attempts to emulate the floating eyeliner of the 1960s while on a pill bender and jamming out to Shocking Blue’s "I’m Your Venus". Channeling that unforgettable era, The Queen's Gambit proves we can’t get enough of that counterculture (and its makeup).

Characterised by statement doe eyes, mascara-coated spidery lashes, two-toned lids with ultra-high arches and negative space liner, typically paired with angled brows, blusher-dusted cheeks and a nude pout, Mod beauty is once again the hottest look of the moment.

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