Over the last two seasons, fashion has shifted from an upbeat, clean-lined minimalism to something much darker.
Katie Trotter: Black is back and it need not be boring
Perhaps it's all the Halloween noise, but fashion seems to be leaning on the spooky side this season, which means - in terms of style - winds of black lace, deep berry-stained lips, complicated corsetry, rich velvets and lashings of lid heavy eyeliner. Think Queen Victoria, whom upon the death of her husband Prince Albert in 1861, commanded her court to dress head to toe in mourning for three years. Sound ominous? Well, yes in a way it is, but that's not to say black has to be boring.
Over the last two seasons, fashion has shifted from an upbeat, clean-lined minimalism to something much darker, with the emergence of leather and lace brought to us by the likes of Versace, Valentino, Givenchy and Alberta Ferretti to name but a few.
The problem is that the term "gothic" (for want of a better word) terrifies most of us. We spend our lives trying to paint a picture of happiness and contentment for the outside world to see - often despite the reality - so why on Earth would we actively seek to look miserable? Well, for one, it can be exceptionally elegant; think long flowing architectural dresses that add linear shape and drama to your overall aesthetic. Givenchy was full of hard lines, especially on their ever popular structured jackets, as was Valentino, who went so far as to dip into the old cape territory.
Think of Hitchcock's dark and often cold portrayal of glamorous pencil skirts matched with opulent studded or bejewelled aristocratic outerwear marked distinctively by strong shoulders. Above all, the effect should be perfectly polished. Otherwise, we run into a kind of mad, gypsy Kate Bush-type that only tends to work with elaborate cinematography. Hats, leather gloves, chain handbags and patterned or lace tights are essential when it comes to accessorising, as seen at Bottega Veneta, Lanvin, Hermès and Jean Paul Gaultier.
If all of this layering is a little too "out there", strip the outfit back to the bare bones with a simple black polo neck and knee-length leather skirt, and instead experiment with the season's matching beauty trends. Flawless skin is a must. Never go paler than your complexion, as doing so can look chalky and, quite frankly, terrifying. Use a light reflecting foundation instead, such as the new YSL Le Teint Touche Eclat Illuminating Foundation, as it gives a perfect finish. If it isn't enough coverage for you, add a good quality concealer under the eyes, around the mouth and to cover any discolouration or blemishes.
When it comes to eyes, start with the brow: the shape if possible should be neatly trimmed and slightly arched, and fill in with a soft pencil or a powder if it is not, as this should create the perfect frame for the face. Cover eyelid with a pale skin tone first, sticking to lighter shade on the eyelid and a smudge of something deeper in the outer corners. Finish with a neatly drawn eyeliner - MAC can advise you on the correct brush - and finish with a light coat of mascara, such as Diorshow, on your lashes.
A touch of rose-coloured blusher, such as MAC's Pinch O' Peach, will give just the right tone, although keep it to a minimum if you are to use a strong lip. For a Gucci inspired lip, try NARS Liquid Lip Color in Nana, which goes on like a patent, blackberry stain and has incredible staying power.
Here we have a trend that seems to the outside as much scarier than it actually is. Perhaps slipping into the dark side, if even for a moment, may be a lot more exciting than it sounds.