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Photography Morgane Maurice

Siren song: Why dark mermaid make-up is beauty’s latest temptation

Dishevelled hair, hypnotic eyes and shimmering skin – this isn’t Disney mermaid make-up. We take a deep dive into the latest beauty trend luring us into the dark depths

  1. THE LOOK: Channel the allure of a mermaid with seductive siren eyes, iridescent shimmer, ocean-inspired colours with a dash of dark glam, and long, wet, dishevelled hair.
     
  2. WHO’S DOING IT? Julia Fox front row at Diesel, Blumarine and Dilara Findikoglu girls on the SS23 runway, TikTok influencers like Danielle Marcan 

  3. HOW CAN I GET IT? Mix different iridescent eye shadows to create a more 3D look. Greens, blues, purples and silver. Don’t be afraid to use the whole face as your canvas and triple up on the gloss for that wet look that feels like you just came out from the sea. Whatever you do don’t brush your hair.

Swap Disney for Hans Christian Andersen and you’ll be on the right track to understanding the mermaid beauty trend that we’ve been seeing across the runway and social media recently. This isn’t a happily-ever-after mermaid with bouncing hair and a rosy-cheeked complexion. These are sirens from the dark depths of the ocean, here to sing us a song of seduction and tempt us into our destruction. 

Take the models who walked the SS32 runway at Dilara Findikoglu. Looking like they had fought strong riptides to reach the surface of the sea, the models had make-up smeared across their faces while hair by Anthony Turner was long, wet and tangled, often with trinkets and charms clipped in. Yohji Yamamoto also showed hair that was gelled and glued on the face asynchronously, as did Blumarine where the vibe was dishevelled mermaids from the lagoon. Here Turner again created long, flowing tresses that reached down to the models’ knees and looked dredged up from the depths.

For make-up, shimmering, glossed-up skin was the look of the season, seen everywhere from the shiny iridescent make-up of Gucci’s twins to Eckhaus Latta and Vaquera. At Dion Lee, Isamaya Ffrench used an airbrush to apply iridescent shadows over mesh for a fish scale, sea creature effect, while Anne-Sophie Costa gave Susan Fang models clumpy glitter faces with shimmering icy-toned lips.

If glowing skin and iridescent shimmer all over the face wasn’t enough to hypnotise sailors to their deaths, siren eyes might finish them off. Viral on TikTok, the look – which involves a lot of dark eyeliner, strategically placed dots and a sultry gaze – promises to help wearer’s channel their dark feminine energy to seduce a man’s soul until he’s transfixed.

It’s not just beauty that’s hearing a siren song. On the runway we saw mermaidcore inspired fits from Blumarine’s silhouettes to JW Anderson’s more funny take, while on fashion platform Lyst searches for the terms ‘mermaid,’ ‘starfish,’ and ‘seashell’ increased 51 percent from last season. 

Designer Di Petsa’s dresses have created a new type of mermaid, one that embraces the taboo of wetness that comes with being a woman (periods, breastfeeding, sweating) and explores the ecofeminist relationship between women and water. “We should treat our bodily fluids in the same way we treat water. Both are completely natural, and totally uncontrollable. If you even think of the term wetness in the context of being a woman, it’s only during sex that it’s deemed acceptable,” Dimitra Petsa told Dazed in 2018.

Ecofeminism seeks to address the parallels between the oppression of nature and the oppression of women, how they both stem from patriarchy and capitalism. A report last year found that women were more likely to report concern about both the impact of climate change and anxiety about the future of the environment than men.

It’s no wonder then that so many are turning to fantasy trends like mermaid beauty – or actual “mermaiding” which went mainstream this year – or fairy-core. They are a form of escapism from bleak news, doom-scrolling and a crisis of living. The darkness of the look however, reflects the cultural mood and the desire to take back the power. It’s seductive to think that through your beauty choices you could tempt, lure and destroy your enemies – whether that’s sailors, climate change or the patriarchy.

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