A SHORT HISTORY OF THE CAT-EYE
Seasons change, trends ebb and flow, but the cat-eye never budges.
The OG cat-eye belonged to Cleopatra, the powerful Ancient Egyptian ruler whose heavily kohl-rimmed eyes with squared-off edges inspired all the ones that came after. But it wasn’t just vanity that first led Cleopatra and her fellow Egyptians to decorate their eyes—kohl was thought to offer sun protection and ward off illness.
Over time, the eyeliner look has seen several reincarnations. During the 1950s, black eyeliner was as essential as red lipstick. Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor—who immortalized Cleopatra’s beauty look in the film by the same name—were rarely seen without rouge lips and dramatic swoops of liner. Around the same time, Brigitte Bardot showed off a more smouldering wrapped-around cat-eye, smudged out and smoky, paired with a pillowy pale pink pout.
The ‘70s saw Diana Ross dial up the drama on the classic winged liner with faux lashes. Meanwhile, Madonna epitomized the ’80s approach to the cat-eye: bigger and bolder, with frosted lids and fire-engine red lips.
In the 1990s, the late Amy Winehouse brought back the exaggerated cat-eye à la Cleopatra—and gave it some serious rock-star swagger. It was bold and block-y and turned upwards all the way to the tail-end of the brows, and it became the subject of countless beauty tutorials.
Today, we can thank Adele for reigniting our love for the look with her now-signature swipe, perfectly lined and loaded with lashes.
But it’s not just celebrities who love a winged eye—it’s a perennial favourite on runways, too. For fall, Balmain created a smoked-out iteration accented with a streak of platinum for a heavy-metal vibe. At Chloé, models channeled their inner Kate Moss with a precise feline flick. Meanwhile, Versace went for a graphic show-stopper with a matte finish, and Yves Saint Laurent’s nod came in the form of winged-out floating liner.
But our favourite cat-eye right now came straight from the red carpet, courtesy of the metallic variations seen on Brie Larson at this year’s Met Gala and Kristen Stewart at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. Both eschewed black in favour of gold or silver, giving us a shiny new take on the classic look.
The overall message for fall? The cat-eye never goes out of style. There are countless ways to own it, but the real fun is trying them out to find the look(s) that work for you. Happy exploring!