Eyelash Revolution

“Fake eyelashes can instantly give me a more dramatic look and also help to accentuate my eyes, which are a focal point to achieving the Lion Babe look.” – Jillian Hervey

By Trish Carroll

My earliest memory of lash art was my Aunt Colleen, who studied at Cleveland Playhouse, lived in Las Vegas and was best friends with Liberace. She was dramatic and fashionable and wore the most amazing eyelashes—they became her signature.  Glamorous and larger than life, Aunt Colleen made me realize while I was still very young that our eyes are an accessory that can be a make-or-break fashion statement. When she was three, my niece studied Great Aunt Colleen intensely, watching every blink of her eyes. “Why does she have butterflies on her eyes?” was her puzzled inquiry. It was poetic and actually a reasonable question. 

To answer, one needs to go back in history. Anna Taylor patented artificial eyelashes in 1911. They were composed of crescent-shaped fabric with tiny hairs. In the 1920s, it was customary for actresses in Hollywood to wear false eyelashes, inspiring flappers to copy their “baby doll eyes.” By the 1930s, false lashes were everywhere. 

British cultural icon, widely known as Twiggy, sparked a ‘lash revolution’ in the 1960s with her avant-garde approach to wearing false lashes on both her top and bottom lids. PICTURELUX / THE HOLLYWOOD ARCHIVE / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Vogue had several fashion shoots with models wearing dramatic lashes. Marilyn Monroe wore them in photo shoots and films in the 40s and 50s, a glamorous influence on women the world over. She knew the power and allure of a flirty eye, even when wearing glasses in How to Marry a Millionaire. When Twiggy donned fake lashes on her top and bottom lids in the 1960s, she caused a “lash revolution.” Twenty million lashes were sold during the decade.

In the 70s, artificial lashes fell out of favor—natural lashes were en vogue. But by the 90s, false lashes had made a comeback.

And this brings us to today. The lash business is projected to grow to 1.5 billion in sales within five years, according to Forbes. That’s a lot of “butterflies.”

The business has “lashed out” with worldwide entrepreneurs. Here are some of the most notable:

Lilly Ghalichi, creator of Lilly Lashes, is the star of Bravo’s Shahs of Sunset. She created the industry’s first comfortable 3D lashes, which have been worn by Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez.

Tatti Lashes was launched by Charlotte Tiplady and Elliot Barton, two British entrepreneurs in their 20s. This affordable brand is available online in 82 countries—a global “lash empire.”

Huda Beauty was founded by Huda Kattan, an Iraqi-American with a beauty business valued at $1.2 billion! A-listers and women the world over who are looking for advice on achieving glamor have watched Huda’s tutorials online. Her skill as a beauty influencer has catapulted the business from the Mideast and Persian Gulf into an international empire. She launched her first beauty product, false eyelashes, through Sephora.

Meanwhile, neither Fenty Beauty, Rihanna’s cosmetic company, nor Kylie Cosmetics, owned by Kylie Jenner, offer mascara, suggesting to their customers that while lashes are important, faux lashes are the way to go.

Today’s fashion has taken the eyelash to its most extreme level on the catwalks of Europe. Pat McGrath, regarded by Vogue as the most influential makeup artist in the world, and Pierpaolo Piccioli, creative director for Valentino, joined forces to create a Spring 2019 Couture collection with Bambi-eyed feathers that fluttered and bashfully adorned the models’ eyes.

Fluttering lavish feather eyelashes, models walk the runway during the Valentino Spring 2019 show as part of Paris Fashion Week in Paris, France. PHOTO BY PASCAL LE SEGRETAIN / GETTY IMAGES

The magical lash trend continued at the Met Gala 2019, with Sarah Tanno creating over-the-top gold foil eyelashes that sat on top of four sets of false eyelashes. Wig tape was used to keep Lady Gaga’s eyes open for the entire eight hours—a brave commitment to lash fashion!

Designer Marc Jacobs, who embraces high fashion mixed with cool street style, collaborated with McGrath to create a “lash look” for the runway for his Spring 2020 Collection in New York. This creative duo channeled everything from Bob Fosse to Euphoria Tears, inspired by the glittery and glamorous look  of HBO’s Euphoria, and gave a nod to Shelley Duvall’s theatrically long spidery lashes. Art-meets-beauty-meets-fashion is a lifestyle, not just at a club or on a runway, but also on the streets.

Now let’s address the elephant in the room:  FEAR of application resulting in an I Love Lucy dangling lash that at a critical moment decides to crawl down your face like a caterpillar! Forget your fears. Anyone can be a beauty pro with the invention of new adhesives as well as individually placed, long-lasting lashes and magnetic lashes that just pop on.

Now that your fear has been tackled, the next question is, “Where can I find them?” No problem: they are everywhere—from beauty supply chains and high-end salons to Walgreens and even grocery stores. Check them off your shopping list along with detergent and a head of lettuce.

As the lead singer of the New York-based music duo Lion Babe, Jillian Hervey relies on false lashes to emphasize her stage look while performing. Scala, London, May 2015. WENN RIGHTS LTD / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Accessibility is increasingly important in the world of fashion. Everyone wants to be glamorous, from the Starbuck’s barista to the Silicon Valley entrepreneur to the music industry mogul. There are no restrictions on body type, skin color, gender or religion. In fact, it sends the most unifying fashion message: you can change your look and maybe even your life.

So, who cares if our lashes are “false?” Sure, no one in our culture wants to be regarded as fake. Yet where “real news,” “real experiences” and “real life programming” exist, the idea of hiding behind your “fake” lashes is acceptable. As the saying goes, “Fake it until you make it.” But in this case, let’s make it our secret.

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