Beauty

Beauty like it's 1999

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The Nineties are back, inspiring a raft of retro beauty looks. Nude skin? Matte lips? Grungey eyes? You know you want to…

Words: Evie Leatham

Even the air smelled different back in the Nineties: thick with the androgynous scent of Calvin Klein’s ubiquitous CK One. No surprise really, given 20 bottles were sold every minute at its peak in 1995. It was a time when most of us were rushing to Toni & Guy to get our hair chopped into ‘Rachel’-style layers or jealously admiring our friends who had already taken the plunge, all the while debating the merits of scrunchies and supermodels as MTV blasted in the background.

Fast-forward two decades and fashion and beauty are having a Nineties moment once more. Hedi Slimane’s entire autumn/winter 2013 collection for Saint Laurent Paris was inspired by grunge, with Courtney Love – a poster girl for the Nineties movement if ever there was one – fronting the label’s new campaign. Another current beauty muse is the fictional character Lelaina Pierce, portrayed by Winona Ryder in 1994’s Reality Bites: all mulberry lips, feathered hair and a whole lot of angst. And who can forget My So-Called Life’s Angela Chase (brought to life by Claire Danes), whose hair was the quintessential Nineties shade of grape. It’s not only Saint Laurent Paris tapping into this era: the look on Chloé’s catwalk was also strongly influenced by Britain’s Nineties women. “We referenced Northern girls growing up in the Nineties on a night out; tough but beautiful,” said Anthony Turner who styled hair into a simple low ponytail at the show. Very Appleton sisters.

Those who came of age in this era will be either feeling swamped in nostalgia (spice lip-liner and frosted eyeshadow, anyone?) and keen to recreate these looks now or recoiling in fear at re-imagining Ginger Spice blonde streaks, over-plucked brows and crispy, overly gelled curls. We say embrace the former: the new Nineties looks are tempered by a prettier, cleaner, altogether more wearable aesthetic, with the decade that ‘done’ forgot now being remembered in the form of wet-look hair, matte lips, grown-out fringes and worn-in smoky eyes. And for those that missed out on an inspiring beauty decade altogether, here are the looks it’s OK to get newly acquainted with...

The new Goth lip

The new grunge eye

The new minimalism

(Main images: Rex Features)

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