Late last week, Marc Jacobs made headlines when he closed out New York Fashion Week with his show in which he sent models onto the runway strutting the most daring makeup look of the season – a bare face. Aside from some moisturizer and the occasional bit of concealer to hide blemishes here and there, makeup artist Francois Nars, founder of NARS cosmetics, claimed that not a single gram of makeup was used for the show.

The natural, minimalist look has been gaining popular in the world of fashion and beauty for quite a while now, as we’ve seen with: the “no-makeup” makeup trend; movements like normcorethe attitude of embracing sameness and simplicity instead of having a unique and overstated look; and fashion campaigns that encourage simplicity and normalcy, like Gap’s recent “dress normal” project, or even Jacobs’ own #CastMeMarc campaign from earlier this year. The idea here is stripping away the overdone clothes and beauty trends in favor of a more basic style and an emphasis on the ordinary.


Now with this latest move towards fashion minimalism, Jacobs has taken things a step further: going beyond replicating a natural look to actually just keeping the look all-natural. What does a major statement like this mean, especially at a fashion event as huge as NYFW?


From a creative standpoint, the decision to avoid makeup could certainly have something to do with the theme of Jacobs’ new collection. The primary use of neutral earth tones gives off a strong military vibe, according to Nars, who said he felt like Jacobs’ goal was to create a sort of “army” of models. If this is the case, then the bare and plain look ultimately speaks to the collection in a way that echoes what we see with other fashion movements embracing normalcy in that the focus is on creating a basic sameness and unity.


Interestingly, however, is that through this visual sameness what’s actually achieved is an emphasis on differences.

The world of fashion is constantly developing new norms. It can take even the most extreme and avant-garde trends and make them popular, and later, familiar as more and more people adopt them. In other words, a new norm is born. But by reverting back to original and basic “normalcy,” Jacobs has managed to achieve every designer’s goal of being fashion forward in a new way: by taking a step backward.


By emphasizing the value of toning down the loud makeup and fashions that may have reached a point of overexposure and that can ultimately mask individual features and character, the makeup-free look Jacobs gives us in his show becomes one of the most personalized, unique, and refreshing looks we have seen in a while.


Whether this decision was intended to revolutionize the fashion industry or was purely creative, there’s no denying that ditching the makeup sends a message in favor of natural minimalism as a fashion statement in itself. And with a message like that, the bare face may just be one of the best straight-off-the-runway looks to embrace this season, not to mention the easiest. As they say, less is more.


How do you feel about Jacobs’ decision to send his models onto the runway totally makeup free? Share your thoughts below or tweet me @tamarahoumi