Beauty this season is wide-eyed and fresh. It's the quality we remember in Audrey Hepburn, the original gamine. And it's all part of the whole softening of fashion in reaction to the hard and tough '80s.
"The secret to achieving the gamine look is to allow the natural texture of your skin and hair to come through without conforming to a cookie-cutter image dictated to by the fashion magazines -- make the look your own," advises local beauty aficionado, Geri Falek, who did the hair and makeup on our cover model. In other words -- work with what you've got. If your hair is bone straight, resist the urge to tease and set. Likewise with wavy hair -- "let the bend be," says Ms. Falek.
Because hair follows fashion, it can be the definitive accessory in this season of change: retro sleek and sophisticated, grungy and flat, sock-it-to-me shagged, demurely plaited or tumbled into tendrils.
"Cutting-edge hair is undoubtedly 'on the fringe' this spring -- no matter what length," says national beauty expert and author, Sharon Esche, referring to the small-headed shag look with lots of very soft and feathery layers gracing the face (think of a young Mia Farrow). "The shag never really goes out of style, it just keeps returning in different forms." Ms. Esche calls the latest look "shag sauvage," a wilder version of the cropped look of the late '60s and early '70s.
What makes the new gamine shag modern, as opposed to memories of the choppy "Mrs. Brady 'do," is the combination of long and short layers slightly fuller and longer on top (sometimes reaching to the lashes) and cut closer to hug the head.
If you simply can't resist the urge to ruffle your hair, choose your stylist carefully -- there is an art to creating a studied mess. It should be sculpted to individual face shape -- no two heads need be the same.
Gamine wannabes beware. Too many layers at the crown could make you look like a bubble head so keep layers longer on top and blended in to the nape of the neck -- no shelf wedges, please. For women with long, wavy or curly hair, Ms. Falek suggests what she calls the "gypsy shag" -- not as face framing as the "crop top" but with longer layers similar to the popular '70s winged style worn by Jaclyn Smith in "Charlie's Angels." Ms. Falek also advises controlling unruly layered locks with a gel to tame the volume.
New York City salon owner and hair guru to the stars, Frederic Fekkai, who created wispy styles on several spring designer runways, says the gamine look is "sophisticated and feminine, ,, showcasing character and determination on anyone who wears it -- a totally modern choice."
Hair color news for the '90s gamine has a strong blond streak -- whether you prefer the look of all-over blond or barely-there highlights. With the latest lightening technology, going blond can be healthy, says Ms. Esche. "A brand new water-activated powder lightener called White Lightening, now being introduced into salons, is bypassing the damaging effects of peroxide developer and using pure water, thereby leaving the hair looking healthy, shiny and full."
The made-up face this spring appears translucent and natural, but certainly not devoid of color. It's all in the application.
What's in now? Shimmer. You'll be seeing it on eyes, lips and nails. Frank Toskan, creator of M.A.C. Cosmetics, a Canadian-based line sold locally at Nordstrom, claims that like hair, "newness in makeup comes down to mixing textures -- moving away from the all over painted matte face, to the addition of frosts mixed with satins, mixed with matte, -- all applied and blended with a light hand."
"Blush is back," says Redbook magazine beauty editor, Barbara Brown, "but with a sheer wash of color brushed on the apples of the cheeks -- as opposed to brown contoured streaks." At Estee Lauder, blush is layered to combine matte pink, coral, bronze or mauve with shimmer.
Lips are either pale and neutral or punctuated with a fruity bright like orange -- it's any color under the rainbow as long as it goes on sheer.
Consider replacing chalky foundation with moisturizer and a light dusting of powder to allow the luster of skin to show through.
The biggest change comes in eye makeup. Color is back. Blue and green eyeshadow, once considered trashy, is now tres chic.
"Surprisingly enough, color is not just reserved for the lid but can extend all the way up to the brow, with more color next to the lashes for evening drama," says Ms. Brown. She suggests trying purple shadow all over the lid topped by a dab of shimmer at the brow bone.
Even colored mascara is making a gradual comeback, like a deep night green or blue. If the colored eye sounds a little scary, "stick to experimenting with pastels and avoid bold primaries," says Mr. Toskan. Not to be confused with the glaring baby-doll shades of the '60s, fresh eyelids are tinged with muted hues that goon sheer. And always remember to introduce strong color in small doses blended with your everyday neutrals. Before you know it, that blue shadow won't look so taboo after all.
Shimmer is the '90s version of frosted, but beware of frostbite. "Keep in mind that as skin ages, frosts tend to emphasize crepiness so keep them to a minimum," says Mr. Toskan. He suggests the best place for shimmer is "up on the brow bone where the skin can usually take it."
Color is also making news for nails. The natural French manicure is out and pinks, corals and mauves are making inroads. For an instant update, Ms. Brown suggests brushing a new translucent shimmery polish over color you already own.
The craze for false eyelashes has not abated. The doe-like gaze of the gamine framed by manicured brows with a slight arch, can be achieved with more mascara and fringed spikey lashes on both top and bottom lids.
A youthful, blithe spirit is driving the modern gamine look home. Estee Lauder describes her latest pale mauve-toned lipsticks as "the color of a baby's mouth." How can one resist?