The Best Eyeliner…That's Not Actually Eyeliner

Photographed by Evaan Kheraj.
Consider liquid, kohl, and gel kids’ stuff. Taking our cues from the runways of Chanel and Dior, we worked with makeup pro Vincent Oquendo to create amazing liner looks out of crystals, leather, and even jewelry. You’ll never look at your eye pencil the same way again.
Just last week, we showed you a video of makeup maestro Peter Philips discussing the magical mirrored eyeliner looks he created for Dior’s Haute Couture show. The innovation prompted an Instagram frenzy of sorts — so much hullabaloo that the house decided to package little appliqués, coming in January, that a woman could easily do herself. But, given that this is the age of Insta-everything, why wait — especially when the holidays are coming?
That’s why we called on the superbly talented Oquendo, who cut his teeth on Pat McGrath’s team, spackling eyes with Swarovski crystals and creating awe-inspiring masks that push the boundaries between what’s makeup and what’s, well, an accessory. Oquendo — now the right-hand man for everyone from Liv Tyler to Stella McCartney — convinced us that eyeliner doesn’t have to be just eyeliner. Here, he reinvents every girl’s cosmetic-bag staple in five clever ways. “This is not the kind of makeup you can do in the back of a cab,” he warns. “This is the kind of beauty where you sit down and spend an hour in front of the mirror.”
So, you’ve been warned: This game is not for the faint of heart. But, whether you’re a DIY pro or simply craving some eye candy, we promise you won’t be disappointed by these gorgeous photos. Click to get inspired.

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Photographed by Evaan Kheraj.
Razzle Dazzle ‘Em
A couple of seasons ago, the look at Dior was all about Swarovski crystals — a theme Oquendo put his own twist on for Refinery29. To make it happen, he enlisted the help of his handy Anastasia tweezers, and then selected a whole color wheel of Swarovski crystals. He then created a constellation of adhesive on the eye, focusing on the ends.

Swarovski Flat Back Crystals, $31.50, available at Dreamtime Creations.
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Photographed by Evaan Kheraj.
Crystal Craze
“The important thing about the application is to make the crystals appear lightweight and easy,” he says. “If you go overboard, they can appear dense.” Our model was able to easily open and close her eyes without feeling like she was wearing something too heavy, thanks in part to how Oquendo applied a row to the lash line and a row to the crease, creating a winged effect.
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Photographed by Evaan Kheraj.
Sparks Fly
For a similar look, you could easily forsake shadow altogether, but Oquendo primed the entire eye with a thin layer of MAC Chromaline in White to lend the crystals a sense of transparency. The pops of yellow, blue, and amethyst only added to the allure. As for the rest of the face, he kept everything neutral save for a lashing of black mascara. (He used CoverGirl Clump Crusher.)
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Photographed by Evaan Kheraj.
White Noise
While shopping in New York’s Garment District for this story, Oquendo immediately gravitated toward a fun, braided-leather shoelace. “The look has a similar feeling to Dior Couture,” he says. “But, the added texture felt really cool.” He began by measuring the model’s eye, and then he cut the material “at a bias, so it fits better.” Then, he heated the material with a blowdryer so that it would mold better to the skin. He lined the eye with adhesive, and gently applied the lace.
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Photographed by Evaan Kheraj.
Lace Up
Since the lace couldn't technically reach from the inner corner to the end of the eye, Oquendo filled in using MAC Chromaline in white to create the illusion of connectedness.

Theory Cafe Coat.
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Photographed by Evaan Kheraj.
White Now
Oquendo wanted to keep the rest of the face simple, which you’ll see is a theme throughout the story. “Let the eyes do the talking,” he says. In every picture here, the model is wearing just a touch of foundation (Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Flawless Fluide), and concealer under the eyes and where needed (NARS Radiant Creamy). He also sheered out a bit of NARS Audacious Lipstick in Michiyo with balm to create a pink stain, and added highlights with Tom Ford’s Shade & Illuminate Palette. “For this look, to add depth without too much drama, we did one layer of Chanel Le Volume Mascara in brown,” he says.
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Photographed by Evaan Kheraj.
Tell Me About It, Stud
Studs can edge toward rock ’n’ roll, but Oquendo wanted to maintain a touch of pretty. So, he chose a rose-gold, metallic Swarovski flat-back to get the job done. "And, I wanted them to feel metallic, so I added a silver eyeliner underneath," he says. "This is important, because it adds structure."

He applied Duo Glue to the skin, and then carefully adhered the studs close to the lashline using his Anastasia Beverly Hills tweezers. Then, he applied a trio to the outer corner of the eye.
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Photographed by Evaan Kheraj.
Positively Studly
Oquendo also applied studs to the inner corners to mimic a highlight effect. “The silver eyeliner is key, because it adds structure,” he says. He used Make Up For Ever’s Loose Pigment in Silver, tracing it along the top and bottom lashes and winging it out slightly.

MAC Pigment in Silver, $21, available at MAC.

Suno Buttondown, Sandro Vitaa Inverted Velvet Leather Jacket.
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Photographed by Evaan Kheraj.
Metal Elements
He then filled in the brows to elongate and add a little structure, but kept the rest of the face simple. The gold helps open the eyes a bit, don't you think?
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Photographed by Evaan Kheraj.
Two Chains
“This look had a much tougher edge,” Oquendo explains of the gold chains he selected. But, he warns, this is probably the hardest look to pull off for yourself. “If you’re going to try this at home and you’re not very crafty, I’d recommend measuring your eye from the corner to the end, adding just a tiny bit to the length so you can wing it up," he says. "Then, have the craft store cut your materials for you.” A word to the wise: Make sure they know this is for facial application, so they can get rid of any sharp edges. As for which chains you pick, the trimming store is your Shangri-La — just find something that has pliability so you can follow the curve of your eye.
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Photographed by Evaan Kheraj.
Gilded Glory
Oquendo chose to float this material in the crease, so our model could be more comfortable during shooting. He then added a small piece to the outer corners of the eye, which created the illusion of a connected liner. “I based the entire eye in gold MAC Pigment, to play off of the texture,” he explains. “And, to give it a tough-girl edge, I rimmed the eyes using Gucci’s black kohl.”
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Photographed by Evaan Kheraj.
Gold Rush
Because adhesive can be a touch astringent, especially when you're removing and reapplying it, we made sure to give our model a little TLC between this look and the next. Oquendo used Dr. Hauschka Eye Revive — cotton rounds saturated in a unique formula of chamomile and camellia — to quell any irritation. Then, Oquendo insisted on an SK-II sheet mask to make sure her skin was hydrated and properly nourished before he continued.
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Photographed by Evaan Kheraj.
Blue Suede Beauty
Upon entering Global Leathers in the Garment District, Oquendo fell in love with a swath of mint-blue suede (cue the Elvis song). “The importance of selecting suede or leather liner is, you want it to be thin and delicate so it molds to the eye,” he explains. (Case in point: this past season's Fendi show.) “That way, when your eye heats up, it acts as a second skin.” To get the perfect winged shape you see here, he measured the models’ eye, and then sketched out this shape on a piece of card stock. Then, he cut it out using an X-Acto knife. “It’s better if it’s a bit smaller, because you can just fill in the holes with makeup,” he says.
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Photographed by Evaan Kheraj.
Future Chic
The result was an incredibly pretty, futuristic take on eyeliner. “I didn’t have to fill in here, but you could easily take blue shadow or liner and bring it in through the inner corner, and nobody would notice,” he says.

Markus Lupfer Hook-a-Duck Sequin Sweater, $262.50, available at Bloomingdale's.
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Photographed by Evaan Kheraj.
Blues, Reused
“My model clients are always asking me for leather eyeliner,” he says. “If you do this with a dark color, especially a black, you would be able to reuse it for another night.” Just make sure to stow it away somewhere hygienic. Who knows? Those old, beat-up winter boots of yours might get a second life after all.
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Photographed by Evaan Kheraj.
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