Wait, Maybe Clumpy Lashes Are a Good Idea

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Photo: Helga Traxler

Clumpy lashes are one of those runway beauty trends that are easy to poke fun at (and I’ve done it before). After years of Tammy Faye Bakker jokes and beauty ads training us to believe they’re a makeup mistake, crazy fashion people are really going to turn around and tell us to try them? But seeing Ruth Bell in the sophisticated, delicate clumpy-lash look from Friday’s Jason Wu show has taken the cynicism out of me. Who arbitrarily decided long ago that clump-free lashes were so great anyway?

Unlike some clumpy-lash looks, which make you appear as though you’ve been up all night partying, the ones at Wu reference “beauty with distortion,” says makeup artist Yadim. He explains that he and Wu wanted to portray a classic, elegant girl, but with something youthful and “kind of cool about her.” The models’ faces were clean but a little raw, with a subtle highlight across the cheekbones and a taupe eye shadow for depth in the eyes. The real focus was on the baby lash clumps decorating each model’s lash line. Unlike a mascara mistake at home, the clumps were focused only at the tips of the lashes, so they looked more delicate than heavy. Yadim and his makeup artists used Maybelline Colossal Spider Effect mascara (out in spring) and wielded the wand vertically so the individual lashes bunched together, creating four or five tapered groups of lashes. Keeping the look sophisticated, the lower lash line was left bare.

Someone on Instagram called the look “ugly as sin,” but when I first saw the juxtaposition of the polished-yet-raw skin with what my friend Cheryl Wischhover called the “symmetrical messiness” of the lashes, I found it beautifully different. Two hours later, I was still thinking about it. And several hours later, while going through these pictures of Ruth Bell, I realized that I loved it.

At a time when many of my colleagues are arguing about the importance of runway beauty, Friday’s look at Jason Wu proves the No. 1 reason to pay attention: Because sometimes, when you least expect it, the runway can subvert your previously held notions of what is beautiful, making you reevaluate things you’ve always believed. That subversion can be as minor as making you love clumpy lashes, but it can be as major and sweeping as the move toward celebrating natural hair and individual beauty. Either way, it’s inspiring. Stuck-together lashes might not sweep the nation, but at the very least the look is a nice change from the hundreds of mascaras you can currently find at Sephora that vow to annihilate your clumps. Click through the slideshow for this and other beauty looks from Fashion Week fall 2016 so far.