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Thanks to 'Mad Men' and Liz Taylor, the cat-eye is back

July 15, 2012 |  6:01 am

On “Mad Men,” Don Draper's wife, Megan, knows how to embellish her 1960s regalia with not just a sky-high architectural bouffant but with inky cat-eye eyeliner, reminiscent of Sophia Loren or Brigette Bardot back in the day. And, thanks in no small part to “Mad Men's” popular retro vibe, the cat-eye look has come roaring back into fashion.

(Perhaps too, we're all just a bit bored with smoky eyes and bronzer.)

Beauty A-lister Linda Cantello, international makeup artist for Giorgio Armani, says “Mad Men” did help rekindle the cat-eye. “But I think that in a weird way it's somehow connected with Elizabeth Taylor. She had those amazing eyes and all of those stories came out about Elizabeth Taylor [when she died]. Women of that era just looked incredibly glamorous…. We've gone from a smoky eye to a graphic eye with straight lines, and now people realize that the cat-eye is an incredibly flattering look. Everyone looked glamorous in the '50s and '60s — even the next-door neighbor.”

Cat-eyes were all over the fall 2012 runways and it wasn't just about the purr-fectly retro, upwardly flicked, winged black liner on the outer-eye corner. There were modern, avant-garde shapes, and makeup artists for Emporio Armani, Fendi, Anna Sui and others also played with color.

The look is good on almost everyone except those with very deep-set eyes, Cantello says.

But unless you have an A-list makeup artist at your beck and call, mastering the cat-eye can be enough to make you want to claw something. That's why beauty bloggers got excited this year when subscribers to Birchbox (who pay $10 a month for a delivery of a box of products to try) received what seemed to be an ingenious solution: pre-fab eyeliner shapes that you peel off a backing sheet and stick to your eyelid.

Eye Rock
The Eye Rock Instant Liner Tapes come from British company Rock Cosmetics, which is known for stick-on nail appliques and holographic press-on lip foils.

They come in a set of four different designs that retails for $13 on To use, just peel them from the backing, trim to fit if necessary and stick to your eyelid. On the negative side, the adhesive didn't seem to stick well in the set I tried — some bloggers recommend using lash glue to secure. And it felt as if I had tape stuck to my eyelid. But it was fun to try different shapes.

And shape is important, whether you try a stick-on or create a cat-eye with regular makeup, says Taylor Chang-Babaian, celebrity makeup artist and author of the book “Style Eyes.” The farther you extend the eyeliner from the corners, the more over-the-top or dramatic the look. “A thin line looks more natural,” Chang-Babaian says, and she prefers a thin line on more mature women. “But a thicker line makes small eyes look bigger.”

“Cat-eyes give the illusion of wider-set eyes,” she adds. “If you think about Amy Winehouse, she had really close-set eyes and [cat-eyes] made her eyes look wider.”

Chang-Babaian says using matte black eyeliner rather than glossy adds a modern twist. She recommends using potted eyeliner creams and gels. To apply, “the shorter the brush bristle the more control you get,” she says. She recommends Shiseido Accentuating Cream Eyeliner ($26, Shiseido
.com). MAC Fluidline Eyeliner Gel with brush No. 209 ($15 and $18 Maccosmetics
.com) and Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner ($22, are also good choices.

“Makeup is so playful,” Cantello says. “Depending on your mood, cat-eyes can go from glamorous to punk to cool…. It's about owning it.”


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--Alene Dawson

Photos from top: Jessica Paré as Megan Draper on "Mad Men," with her bouffant hair and cat-eye liner. Credit: Ron Jaffe / AMC

Eye Rock Designer EyeLiner Tapes ($13, ) Courtesy of Birchbox