One recent evening, after the usual desperation scroll through 5000 very expensive TV channels of crud, I decided to watch a really ancient episode of dear old Sex and the City.
The girls were sitting around a table, slightly overdressed, Charlotte and Samantha were having a fight, everything was as it should be – so why did it all look so odd?
It took me a moment or two to figure it out, but then it hit me. It was their make up. Their eye make up in particular looked so weird. It was like they weren’t wearing any. They looked oddly naked and vulnerable.
After a little more analysis, I finally worked out what was missing: eyeliner. They weren’t wearing eyeliner. And it looked crayzee!
We are living in the biggest eyeliner era since Dusty Springfield blinked her way into our hearts on 1960s telly.
I can’t leave the house without it now – I’m addicted to Bobbi Brown’s gel liner, with its special brush – but not so long ago it was a radical look. I’ve always kept a bottle of liquid liner in my make up kit – I held onto a Rimmel one for years, because it was quite hard to get it in the 90s – but I only used it for special occasions, when I wanted to be a bit camp.
Amy Winehouse was the one who brought it back, with her fabulously extreme make up look, which seemed so radical when she first registered on the collective consciousness back in 2006.
Her style launched a million back combs as well as the catseye flick, but in the years since her MTV debut that simple black line along the upper lid, has become so mainstream, it looks odd when it’s not there.
Now I find I’m scanning for eyeliner/no eyeliner in old films and TV shows and it’s fascinating. Mary Poppins has almost as much eyeliner as Adele wears – but at the time it looked normal. In the years between it looked a bit insane, now it looks normal again and Sex and the City’s unlined noughties eyes look unfinished.
It’s a perfect example of how aesthetic ‘norms’ change with fashion. And here are some pictures of Adele, who I reckon does eyeliner better than anyone.