Avant Garde Makeup

Go avant garde and get eyes like the runway models!

Avant garde is known for being dramatic, artistic, and often extreme. The polar opposite of a natural look, avant garde is all about creativity and expression.

About Avant Garde Makeup

Although individual makeup looks may be distinct, there are several characteristics that typify this style of makeup. The word avant garde itself is a French term meaning 'advance guard,' and refers to things that are unique and new; experimental or innovative in nature. Applied to makeup, this term represents very artistic looks that are often exotic and high fashion makeup styles.

Where You'll See the Looks

You see these artistic makeup looks on the runway and fashion show models, for advertisements and special photo shoots, in fashion and beauty magazines, and for pageants or performance events. You'll also run across these looks in makeup artists' portfolios to showcase their talent, and for makeup competitions or challenge events, as well as holidays and other special events. Some makeup artists and those with particularly expressive and creative personalities may also go avant garde with their makeup any time the mood strikes them for a given day or a given occasion.

For the average woman, avant garde cosmetic styles may not be the norm, but they can make an impact for a special occasion. Women can also glean creative new makeup ideas from avant garde styles and tone them down to a level they are comfortable with for an incredible new look.


Characteristics of this makeup style include:

  • Very artistic and unusual or unique
  • Dramatic and stylized
  • Follow a specific theme or meant to evoke a certain image
  • Often uses bold or unusual makeup color
  • May have heavy emphasis on a specific feature, often the eyes
  • Use of additional mediums beyond the makeup palate, such as gems, feathers, or glitter
  • Use professional quality cosmetics
  • May take a significant amount of time to create

Finding Avant Garde Inspiration

Inspiration for avent garde cosmetic designs can come from a wide range of sources, including your imagination; celebrities or characters from books or movies; emotions; time periods; fashion and current trends, seasons, and much more. The following galleries can give you inspiration:

Browse the pages of the latest fashion magazine and you'll undoubtedly run across some of these makeup looks. Online, Style.com, the online home of Vogue, has wonderful avant garde images from the latest fashion shows and other events to peruse. You can also view the photo galleries of makeup artists, especially those who specialize in avant garde or performance makeup, to get ideas.

Avant Garde Eye Makeup

From whimsical to dark, avant garde eye makeup run the gamut of styles. The eyes are tyuly the gem of a great avant garde makeup creation since the eyes are such an expressive part of the face. Here are a few simple ways for anyone to get instant avant garde eyes (always use a good primer prior to heavily made up to keep the shadows and liner stable).

  • Dramatic: Apply a dark, smoky shadow over the eye lid and blend out and up towards the outer corner of the eye. Apply a shimmer highlight shade near the browbone, and lightly smudge a shade two or three shades lighter than the shadow along the lower lash line until it meets. Line the upper eye with a thick, dark line and apply false eyelashes, blending with mascara.
  • Cool and Playful: Use two bright, cut complimentary eye shadow shades, cover eyelid eith one shade, and then blend the other color into the crease. Add more of the lid color above the crease shade near the brow bone. Lightly blend a metallis or shimmer shade all over the lid and browbone. Line the top lid with black liner, and add false eyeslashes or several coats of mascara on curled lashes. Affix gems to the side of each eye in a creative design.
  • Dark or Goth Inspired: Starting in the middle of the eyelid and working outward, blend a dark orange or red shadow into the lid and crease. Draw a dark, sharp line with liquid liner slightly above the crease and extend out and up. Draw a thinner line about a quarter inch below the lash line and out and down slightly at the end of the eye.

Makeup Examples

Following are some avant garde sample makeup looks and tips for creating unusual and dramatic designs.

Makeup: Avant Garde Looks
Makeup Look Makeup Tips
The sweeping design around the eyes creates emphasis and a wide eye-playfulness, but the muted teal color and dark liner and lashes keeps the look from looking too sweet; giving a dark undertone. The pale skin and nude lip balances the fantastic eyes.
Intricate Illusion Makeup
Creative artistry can really tie makeup and a specifc clothing style together. Here the vintage look gets a dramtic look from the lacy face art and illusion glove makeup. The lips take a new twist on the retro red lip with an ample dose of glitter. Keeping the eyes more subtle means they don't compete with the intricate design work
Bold Colors
Using multiple shades and unusual colors really creates an artistic look. When using bold color on both eyes and lips, using similar intensity can bring the look together.
Men's Avant Garde Makeup
Many male models are seen with makeup in avant garde styles as well. As with many women's looks, the eyes are often the focus for men as well.
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Avant Garde Makeup