The Death of Trends: How the Beauty Industry Is Redefining Our Culture of Cool

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In August of 1998, an article in Allure magazine pronounced that bold, messily applied lipsticks in plums, berries, and browns were the next big trend in lip color. Images of celebrities like Cindy Crawford, Mira Sorvino, and Catherine Zeta-Jones were plastered throughout its pages, their rich red and purple pouts blurring outside the lines, as predicted. A few months later, runway models from Comme des Garçons and Katherine Hamnett walked down the spring/summer catwalks at fashion week sporting the same bold, grungy lip looks reported by Allure. And the following year, in 1999, MAC launched what would become its all-time most iconic lipstick, Ruby Woo (a "very matte vivid blue-red"), securing the daring, cool-toned '90s red lip in the trends hall of fame forever. To this day, a MAC Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo is sold every four minutes, inspiring '90s nostalgia each time.

As recent as 15 and 20 years ago, this was how beauty trends were born: From the bouffant hairstyles of the '60s to the Technicolor eye shadow of the '80s, trends started at the top—on runways and in magazines. The lifespan of a beauty trend began backstage at fashion week with makeup artists' creations; these products and looks were then reported by an elite fleet of beauty editors, popularized by celebrities on the red carpet, and finally, they reached the masses. Trends began only in these few, exclusive arenas, so they were easy to keep track of; thus, anyone with an interest in them followed along, knew exactly what they were, and flocked to makeup counters and salons to pick up the indigo lipstick they saw on Cindy or the heavy bangs they loved on Heidi Klum. As beauty writer Sarah Brown wrote for Business of Fashion in 2017, the backstage makeup scene at New York Fashion Week 15 years ago was "a magical, secret world few had ever seen. … It was a different time. … Trends trickled from the catwalk to the street, instead of vice versa."