Power Eyeliner: Underrated Secret Weapon?

Tonight, stateside, (Sunday, March 7), the Oprah Winfrey conducted interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, better known as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, will air on CBS.

The anticipation is high and I expect the viewership to be wild. Like Super Bowl big. Seinfeld finale back in 1998 big. Talk about March Madness!

Ahead of the interview, a trailer was released back in February, and speculation of what will be discussed not only became hot fodder, but so did Markle’s makeup. I for definitely noticed her dark rimmed eyes, and thought she looked gorgeous, seductive, and bold. Because Markle’s makeup, for the most part, has been natural-led and neutral since becoming a royal, every time a royal does wear colors outside of the neutral palette makeup-wise, it makes headlines.

I hilariously even recall when, while pregnant with their first child Archie, Markle made a surprise appearance at the British Council Fashion Awards and her choice of dark nail polish made headlines because the public wondered if royals were even allowed to wear such other colors of the expanded rainbow. (Basically, our question was: our royals allowed to have fun with style?? I mean, Princess Diana seemed to have fun!)

Both Town and Country and Elle reassured that Markle hadn’t broken any protocol (like, people were curious!) and all-in-all, goth nails had simply entered the royal chat. Just as her lily white nail polish did earlier that year when Stylecaster asked if the shade was a rebellious one. Other publications downright typed that she had broken protocol wearing a nail color the same shade as milk. Reportedly, for royals, even in 2018, taupe and pale pinks are preferred, and this obsession with what is and isn’t is both kinda funny and yet, can be creepy because a lot of these gossipy pieces are based in scrutiny. The Sun literally has an article about the time Markle wore a dark red color on her tonenails.

Now in 2021, Markle’s dark eyeliner has inspired a few articles online and with pop writers wondering if the decision to wear dramatic makeup was meant to send another message, atop of what Markle and Prince Harry already have in store and are ready to reveal in their chat with Oprah.

Side-by-side photo by Glamour.com

Over at Glamour, Bella Cacciatore may have been the first to ponder if Markle’s eyeliner was in tribute to when Prince Harry’s mother wore noticeable eyeliner for her bombshell November 1995 interview with Martin Bashir, in her article “Princess Diana, Meghan Markle, and the Quiet Strength of ‘Power Eyeliner.'”

If you were too little or not even born yet to remember (I was 8!), I say bombshell because this was the Princess’ liberating tell-all moment of discussing details of life within the Royal Family, her tumultuous marriage to Prince Charles, extramarital affairs, and struggle with bulimia. While a controversial move, yes, it was a step towards emancipation from what Markle and Prince Harry today refer to as “The Firm,” aka the Royal Family, the Palace. (Separated from Prince Charles at the time, Princess Diana’s divorce from him became final in 1996).

Princess Diana’s fashion and style has been of great fascination, even more so in the years since her untimely passing in August 1997. I see candid shots of her wearing a college sweatshirt with bike shorts, or sharply dressed in a black dress, such as her off-the-shoulder Christian Stambolian dress, nicknamed the “revenge dress,” regularly on ’90s Instagrams. But now, the focused has returned to her makeup, sparked by Markle and her glam squad’s face charts.

As she’s quoted in the article, I especially liked how Myka Meier, Beaumont Etiquette founder and a “royals expert,” categorized both Markle and Princess Diana’s makeup choices, since estranged from the palace, as preroyal. It’s kind of a concept, really! Preroyal is attached to the reality of literal royalty already underway, or on the horizon in some capacity. I’m seeing the usage beyond the world of Queen Elizabeth.

“Makeup is often an opportunity to reflect on the outside the way we feel. Also considered a groundbreaking interview, I’m not surprised to see Meghan’s choice of makeup to be bold and empowered, similar to Princess Diana’s during her Martin [Bashir] interview.

Meghan’s makeup in her Oprah interview reflects her preroyal lifestyle, as before Harry, she often wore many dark eye colors and shades. Once she became a senior royal, we saw her transition to more natural, dewy shades.” 

I can attest to Markle donning more smoky-eye type looks during her acting years on Suits. (A humble brag is that I watched season 1 of the USA Network show before she had even met Prince Harry! Very entertaining). And speaking of dark nails, as her character Rachel Zane, her nails were often painted dark, which was still in vogue at the time. In a 2015 New York Fashion Week interview, but her and Kristin Cavallari were wearing it.

Then, Markle seemed like someone who wasn’t against dabbling with makeup, be it smoked out eyeliner and shadow, or summer orange nails. As a royal, her most out-there choices were the the occasional red pedicure or red lip, but those were few and far between. Until this year.

But as a kid, I had never really noticed Princess Diana’s makeup or nail choices until a few years ago. And commentary had been made about them since the ’80s and ’90s.

Glamour did link to a 2017 Daily Mail article (I know, most of us hate it there) about Princess Diana’s most freeing makeup moments. And the first thing Sarah Vine, of this article, pointed out was her eyeliner.

Dang, where the hell have I been in not really noticing Princess Diana’s eyeliner before? I guess as someone who’s loved makeup for so long, wearing eyeliner is a pretty common thing to do and something both celebrity and non-celebrity women partake in. Also as a kid, I really became aware of Princess Diana post-the palace/separated from Prince Charles.

Looking back, she was always lively when it came to fashion, whether rocking an LBD or her reported fave when it came to a pop of color, blue eyeliner on the lower lash line. Why wouldn’t she be wearing eyeliner, even as Princess of Wales? If I recalled anything from that Bashir interview, it was her feathered hair and blush (Again speaking of nails, again, the Princess was reportedly a fan of Revlon’s Revlon Red enamel. Definitely looks great on her in the photo Glamour featured!)

In her piece, Vine argued that Princess Diana used makeup as a PR tool. Think: in the court of public opinion. A brash but true statement. We often remember the importance of makeup and fashion as a tool or weapon when it comes to job interviews or certain appearances in which we eagerly want to look like we belong. Oh gosh, another nail polish reference, but here I go, I remember getting ready for an interview and my mother begging me not to wear “that black nail polish” (I wasn’t exactly applying for a cool retail job) and I did once dress disastrously for a front desk agent position at a hotel. In my head, I realized mid-way through, and took the L on my way out! Sucks to be admit, but sometimes there is a time and place, or mode of action when it comes to fashion.

So back to Markle, and based on what Glamour and The Daily Mail shared, she’s really just getting back to her. Preroyal, a dark power eyeliner in her back pocket, and with the kind of support system that actually understands the meaning of friendship and family. In this case, not only her husband Prince Harry by her side, but cast members of Suits who have come to her defense as even we as everyday people viewers can see that Markle is being highly harassed by the British and sometimes the American media. And so much of it does feel very much racist. (If you didn’t know, Markle is a biracial woman).

As far as power eyeliner (pencils only!) choices go for me, I selected the following and may wear one in spirit tomorrow night, with my Piscean ass.

Kim Kardashian been about that power eyeliner. Her makeup for the 2018 Met Gala was done by Mario Dedivanovic. He used two items from Kardashian’s KKW Beauty line. Kim Kardashian Met Gala 2018 Makeup Look – Kim Kardashian KKW Beauty Mario Dedivanovic (harpersbazaar.com)

Eyeliner can totally be worn as a fun, sultry, fashion forward, or intimidating tool in our appearance. Just like nail colors. I’ve always lowkey enjoyed how brash dark eyeliner can be, and more so when drawn in a thick or graphic design. Thus, history has shown us that some of the world’s most legendary women made it a point to adorn their eyes. Nefertiti, anyone?

  • Make Up For Ever: Artist Color Pencil in Whatever Black (100)
  • Revlon So Fierce! Vinyl Eyeliner in Midnight Mystery (860) (this one may run a bit. Reminds me of Too Faced’s Lava liner from the 2000s.
  • Revlon So Fierce! Vinyl Eyeliner in Mighty Mocha (861)
  • L.A. Girl Shockwave Neon Eyeliner in Blackout (a little similar to So Fierce!)
  • Pat McGrath PermaGel Ultra Glide Eye Pencil in Xtreme Black
  • L.A. Girl Perfect Precision Eyeliner in “Dark Brown”
  • Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in “Sabbath”
  • Hourglass Mechanical Gel Eyeliner in “Canyon”
  • Lord & Berry Velluto Eye Pencil and Shadow in Vero Black (#1801)


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