Top beauty trends from Men's Fashion Week Spring 2022: Super clean, daring dyes and makeup to disrupt
Even with stripped back looks, the standout trends took a big step forward
The times, they are a-changing when it comes to hair and grooming for men. After seasons defined by increasingly longer locks and the growth — literally and figuratively — of facial hair, it looks as if a new chapter is set to start in 2022.
Designers showing their Spring 2022 collections in recent weeks certainly seem to think that's where things are headed. From London to Milan to Paris — with a few detours via beaches or brands' hometowns — the overarching theme was one of stripping off what we embraced during the pandemic and starting anew, armed with new tools for self-expression.
That's not to say things were boring though, quite the contrary. Creative directors and their legions of hair and makeup stylists found myriad ways to hint at what the future might hold, both in the short and long term.
One trend that was slightly less obvious — but is likely to become more prevalent in years to come — was the use of makeup to circumvent facial-recognition technology.
It was Facetasm that offered a reminder that the fashion world is taking note of the increased use of the controversial technology and concerns about the rise of the surveillance state with a poignant short film. There was, however, no makeup.
It's through that lens though — rebelling against surveillance — that the little makeup scattered throughout the collections took on a profound purpose: to confuse said technology.
At 4SDesigns, one model sported a pair of thin straight lines that formed a right angle under the eye sockets. Similarly, Walter Van Beirendonck showed a neon-filled collection fit for a rave, with models sporting vertical neon stripes bisecting their eyes. At Doublet, the models sported quite a bit of makeup and facial accoutrements that distorted their appearance significantly.
Supposedly, one of the most effective ways of beating facial-recognition technology is by using random geometric shapes and colours. So while Van Beirendonck's makeup was undeniably rave-inspired and Doublet's, punk-inspired, taken together — and bearing this kind of thinking in mind — they might be the opening salvo of fashion's battle against heightened surveillance.
Facial hair has always been a bit of a rarity at fashion shows, with creative directors and their casting directors preferring to let models' arresting facial features shine. The last round of menswear shows offered a slight wrinkle though, with moustaches on display throughout the Fall 2021 shows. At the time, it felt appropriate — a byproduct of pandemic loucheness. But like so much else at these Spring 2022 shows, we appear eager to put that chapter of our collective lives behind us.
Thus, you'd be hard-pressed to spot a moustache amid the runways and lookbooks and short films that accompanied the collections. While it's hard to point to something that was missing, what little facial hair there was underscored its more general absence: visible stubble and a few goatees that, while not necessarily close shaves, drew attention to the fact that facial hair had clearly been removed.
A fresh start is, apparently, on the cards for next spring.
Clean slate for hair
Growing out one's hair has been undeniably in vogue over the last 15 months. That is owed in part to the fact that barbers and hairdressers were closed for long stretches, but also to the unique opportunity afforded to us to try something new and outside our respective comfort zones.
Many embraced their locks, but sometimes, no matter how much we enjoy something, we're eager to change things up.
And that means it's time to bring out the clippers, as was the case before many a Spring 2022 show, where buzz cuts and other close-cropped heads of hair dominated the proceedings. Nowhere was this more apparent than at Burberry (on the Paris schedule, but shot in London) where the overwhelming majority of models sported extremely short cuts, a favourite of creative director Riccardo Tisci from his days at Givenchy. In Rome, those without buzz cuts on the Fendi runway sported such slicked-back hair that it appeared buzzed. And in an Ahluwalia film celebrating Black and brown hair and its importance as a tool for self-expression, the male models sported short, apparently simple trims that stood in contrast to their female counterparts' more elaborate looks.
Dye another day
Regardless of whether hair was left long or shaved, dyeing it was all the rage at the Spring 2022 shows.
At the aforementioned Burberry show, many of the buzz cuts were bleached blonde, orange or took on a leopard print.
In Milan, Magliano's punk-heavy lookbook featured a blue Caesar cut, the ends of long locks bleached or orange, with even the edges and rear of a mullet bleached. Similarly, back in Paris, Yohji Yamamoto's models looked to have dyed tufts of their hair themselves — and badly at that — but it was part of the brooding look, and fit the collection's overarching aesthetic. Coloured hair was also essential to the looks at industry darling (and LVMH Prize-winning) Doublet on the last day of Paris Fashion Week.
At Louis Vuitton, the hair wasn't dyed, but much of the headwear — earmuffs, hoods, fur hats — was rendered in colours you might see at a salon, from electric green to purple, and was styled in a way that mimicked hair.
Nails, au naturel
And speaking of Louis Vuitton, in recent years the house's menswear artistic director, Virgil Abloh, has been one of the foremost champion of men painting their nails, sporting everything from black to glitter to bright colours. It's through that lens that the absence of painted nails in the Louis Vuitton collection was noteworthy. The same was true at shows inspired by punk and grunge — subcultures where painted nails have long been common — like Magliano and Yohji Yamamoto. At the latter, the nails were actually the one thing that wasn't covered with paint of some sort. Even Études, which showed a 2000s-inspired collection that typified the e-boy trope and would have been perfect for painted nails, was curiously bereft of any colour on fingertips.
One notable exception came from Milan, where Dolce & Gabbana's models sported black nails. It felt more like the exception that proves the rule though, with the house being a pariah on the heels of a string of scandals ranging from alleged tax evasion to charges of overt racism.
Perhaps the others didn't pass along the memo that Spring 2022 is when we strip things back to the basics and rebuild our personal aesthetics from the ground up.
Marc Richardson is a Montreal-based writer and photographer. His work focuses on fashion, culture and the intersection between the two. He's spent the better part of the last decade observing and cataloguing menswear from New York and London to Florence and Paris. You can follow him on Twitter @quicklongread and on Instagram @shooting.people.