In Miami, Dior Men Turns Makeup Into War Paint

You’d be forgiven for not noticing the neon green makeup splashed across the eyes of the male models at Kim Jones’s pre-fall show for Dior Men last night in Miami. Perhaps you were more captivated by the vibrant floral bucket hats the boys were wearing—or maybe you were looking south, at the shoe collaborations Jones unveiled (to much fanfare) with Stüssy and Air Jordan. But that, of course, was absolutely intentional: “I try to complete the vision of the designer,” says Peter Philips, Jones’ long-time collaborator and the creative and image director of Christian Dior makeup. “I won’t transform this show into a makeup show.” In other words, the beauty was a footnote to the looks, not the headline.

But there’s always treasure to be found in between the margins. Philips is one of the most revered artists in the industry, his own partnership with Jones going back approximately two decades. So his place backstage, surrounded by beauty editors, sends an important signal of what’s to come in this grooming frontier.

a male model wearing a pink and white Dior bucket hat and neon green eyeshadow
Courtesy of Dior
the face of a male model wearing a green and white dior bucket hat
Courtesy of Dior

The eye look, he said, was “Daryl Hannah with a twist,” a reference to the actress’s iconic, black-eyeshadowed role in Blade Runner. But if you haven’t watched Blade Runner in a while, the look might have been more immediately reminiscent of another disturbingly relevant, dystopian sci-fi adventure currently in revival. In Watchmen on HBO, Regina King plays Sister Night, a police officer in an America where law enforcement hides behind masks in an effort to protect their identities from a white supremacist terrorist group. As she gets into costume, we often see King airbrush black paint across her eyes as part of her disguise, a ritual that generally means ass-kicking is about to commence.

Both characters, in effect, use their makeup as a statement to onlookers, bounty hunters, and racists alike: Don’t fuck with me. And despite their floral bucket hats and super-short shorts, the boys at Dior were more or less saying the same thing. “It’s more like a war paint,” Philips says, glancing over the neon stripe of a male model in his midst. “It’s not necessarily to seduce—it’s to disturb, or be provocative.” He referenced “cyber surfers” and “pastel graffiti” as examples of the future he saw in Jones’ collection, taking specific joy in the “strange color combinations.” Backstage, artists were using Temptu Airbrush Systems to spray pigment across the models’ faces, sealing it with a waterproof “shield” so it would last through the show and well into the night.

Once the models hit the runway, the flashes of green were more subtle than expected, peeking out from underneath the brims of their hats, or catching the light only as they turned to show their profile. It was war paint, but perhaps rendered for more of a Mad Max-style rave.

bottles and tubes of Diorbranded makeup lined up neatly on a white surface
Courtesy of Dior
a bald man with glasses applying makeup to a male model's face backstage at a Dior runway show

Peter Phillips at work.

Courtesy of Dior

Still, the fact that neon eye makeup was barely a showstopper for the men’s collections (where the word “makeup” is barely ever heard) is something of note. Jones’ boys, decked out from head to toe in radiant knits, collectible footwear, and full-body florals, don’t feel like the future of menswear so much as they feel absolutely, utterly now. Allowing makeup into this world only feels fitting—after all, Jones’s take on the Saddle bag has already helped usher in the age of men’s handbags.

Maybe that’s why this convergence of “now” and “future” at Dior—somewhere in between the Miami party scene and Blade Runner—felt so prescient. Dystopia is hardly science fiction anymore.

That makes looking back on Blade Runner in 2019—our age of Alexa, Russian hackers, and dissolving privacy—all the more ironic. “The world almost exists, which is creepy,” Hannah said in a more recent interview about the film. “The screens you talk to? It’s already here! Times Square basically looks like Blade Runner now.”

And with the apocalypse feeling more and more like a sure thing, our technocrats rising to dizzying levels of power and fortune, and climate catastrophe looming ever closer (especially in a coastal city like Miami, mind you), it really makes you think: Why not buy the purse, wear some eyeshadow, and kick some ass?

A man's face with a hand applying makeup to his eyebrow
Courtesy of Dior
A man's face with hands applying Dior foundation to his cheek
Courtesy of Dior

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