War Paint

Photo: Tyen for Vogue Paris
Photo: Tyen for Vogue Paris

Do you watch Vikings? I’m totally hooked, and between the violent clashes between cultures (and the costume details), I’ve been musing about Floki’s eyeliner.

 

Fierce is a word that’s been used – and overused – by fashionistas when describing some of their own looks, but the drag queens bringing the word into the studio aren’t that far off the mark. “Wild or menacing in appearance“, fierce describes a way of looking that’s deliberately designed to look out of control.

 

Looking wild or menacing – unpredictable and possibly out of control – is a big plus on the battlefield, and warriors all over the world across time have taken advantage of the effect.

 

Modern society is relatively polite and peaceful – I’m not currently worried that hordes from New Jersey will come over with hatchets to rape and pillage Manhattan. And I’m happy about that.

 

But I miss the paint. Maybe there’s no way to wear extreme makeup in polite professional society – our aggression and greed towards each other is suppressed into firm handshakes and furtive calls to our attorneys. And maybe broad stripes of paint just make a person look too aggressive to trust.

 

But fashion and pop culture take advantage of this – they attack our senses and astonish us with color and sound. I’m sure that’s why I fell into a new wave rabbit hole when MTV showed up on cable in the 80’s. And it’s a huge part of why I do what I do for a living, even if the evidence mostly shows “natural makeup”.

 

Here’s a short gallery of battle-inspired makeup looks:

 

What do you think? Do you sometimes wish you could rock one of these looks at work? Is “war paint” a relic of more violent times? What’s your “combat makeup” look?

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