Proof The Smoky Eye Is Back — & It Looks Good On Everyone

If you thought New York Fashion Week would be immune to the minimalist makeup trends sweeping the industry, well, you’d be wrong. Season after season, designers sent models down the runway “as they were” — save for a tap of concealer and maybe a brush of brow gel. Luckily, that barely-there phase seems to be ending. The latest showcase of fall and winter collections proves that one of the moodiest makeup trends is making a return: the smoky eye.

Smoky eyes aren’t new, but they are the antithesis to the naked makeup look we’ve come to expect at Fashion Week. Even so, the smoky eye you thought you knew (yes, that one you wore every Saturday night in college) is gone. These aren’t the heavier iterations that only look good on Instagram bloggers who wear false lashes and own a ring light. No, the smoky eyes seen at shows — like Tibi, LaQuan Smith, and Tom Ford — give nuance to a trend we thought we’d seen a million times before. Even better, most only take one product to complete, so you can spend more time showing off the look than creating it.

Need some inspiration? Ahead, the best smoky eyes to walk the runway at New York Fashion Week.

Too much smoke in a smoky eye can quickly turn anyone into a club rat. Luckily, makeup artist Gucci Westman arrived backstage at Brock Collection to prove a bold and brazen eye can be pretty and badass.
Photo: Imaxtree.

Line the the upper and lower lashline in a creamy gel eyeliner to draw as much attention to the eye as possible. This formula from Chanel is malleable enough to be applied in a precise line or smudged to messy perfection.
Chanel CALLIGRAPHIE DE CHANELLongwear Intense Cream Eyeliner, $35, available at Nordstrom

We never thought a smoky eye could be subtle, but Mark Badgley and James Mischka (of Badgley Mischka) proved us wrong when they sent models down the runway with lids coated in a light wash of gray shadow and, well, that’s it.
Photo: Imaxtree.

The key to this look: Finding the right shade of gray to keep the look bold without it appearing too heavy on the eye. Our favorite is the taupe shadow in this Kevyn Aucoin eye palette. Use a fluffy brush to sweep the the solid color across the lid, and you’re done.

Kevyn Aucoin The Essential Eye Shadow Set, $58, available at DermStore

Truth be told, Tom Ford always selects a smoky eye to accompany whatever designs he sends down the runway — no matter the season — and his latest iteration includes a game-changer for the trend: mauve eyeshadow.
Photo: Imaxtree.

Swap out your usual palette of matte black and gray shadows for satin browns and blushes to create a softer version of the smoky trend.
Tom Ford Eye Color Quad, $88, available at Sephora

You’d think all our attention would be on the black bobs soaked in white paint on the Jeremy Scott runway this year, but alas, we were entirely focused on the models’ painted lids. Inspired by Daryl Hannah’s makeup in 1982’s Blade Runner, the look is certainly not for the faint of heart, but it’s still far more diffused than the iconic visage of Hannah’s pleasure model, Pris.
Photo: Imaxtree.
Use a fluffier shadow brush to sweep a cream shadow (or potted liner) from one corner of the eye to the next. Focus less on precision and more on covering the lid in as much color as possible — and skip the mascara; this look is even better without it.
MAC Cosmetics Chromaline, $22, available at MAC Cosmetics

LaQuan Smith’s fall/winter collection married risqué details with reserved sexiness — and the makeup matched. Thanks to makeup artist Erin Parsons, most of the models walked the runway in this ’90s-inspired smoky eye.
Photo: Imaxtree.

For Parsons, the cherry on top of this look is definition. Her technique: Mixing a matte brown shadow with a rosy highlighter to darken the top and bottom lashlines.
Maybelline City Mini Eyeshadow Palettes, $7.99, available at Target

As much as someone might’ve expected Tory Burch to send plaid trenches, floral dresses, and button-down coats down the fall runway, they could’ve never guessed the preppy collection would’ve been paired with a smoky eye. And yet, it works.
Photo: Imaxtree.

Achieve a similar look with just one brown pencil, drawing a heavy line of pigment on the lower lashline before quickly smudging the color from the inner to outer corner. The end result is kind of sleepy but really cool.
MAC Cosmetics Technakohl Liner, $18, available at MAC Cosmetics

The most modern take on the smoky trend came on the Tibi runway, with models rocking a smudged shadow in a mossy green. The winged placement is a less outrageous version of the “thumbprint liner ” we saw a year ago.
Photo: Imaxtree.
This hazier hue proves that green eyeshadow is still trending — and makes for the perfect shadow alternative for smoky-eye beginners.
Bobbi Brown Luxe Eyeshadow, $38, available at Nordstrom

Is there a better match for studded leather than a lid coated in eyeliner? Longchamp doesn’t think so — and their bedhead version of a smoky eye, created by Pat McGrath, proves there’s nothing wrong with a classic.
Photo: Imaxtree.

Remember when you were in the 7th grade, loved My Chemical Romance, and owned about 10 black eyeliners? Well, your inner angsty teenager is back, but this time, she has a fancy eye pencil that reads cool, not misunderstood.

Pat McGrath Permagel Ultra Glide Eye Pencil, $25, available at Sephora

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