In 1978, American artist Gil Baker designed the first-ever rainbow flag for the queer community. "[The LGBTQIA+ community] needed something beautiful, something from us," the artist said in a 2015 interview with the Museum of Modern Art. "The rainbow is so perfect because it really fits our diversity in terms of race, gender, age, all of those things."
In the years following, the six-colour rainbow flag came to represent the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole, however, as the years have passed, more nuance has led to the creation of more symbolic colours. Groups within the queer community — asexual people, bisexual people, lesbian people, transgender people, intersex people, genderqueer people, and more — have since created their own flags to represent and celebrate their identities in a way that feels more accurate to their specific lived experiences.
Five years ago, designer Daniel Quasar brought some of these flags together to create the Progress Pride Flag. He added the black and brown stripes (that represented queer folks of colour) from the Philadelphia Pride flag and the pink, white, and blue stripes (of the Trans Pride flag) onto the six-colour rainbow flag.
In the lead-up to Mardi Gras, we're looking for ways to incorporate all of these meaningful colours from various Pride flags into our makeup looks. Makeup has long been a powerful and fun form of self-expression within the LGBTQIA+ community, and Mardi Gras is one of the best times to experiment with it.
For Sydney-based makeup artist, Alana Lucky, it's her favourite time of year. She loves the joy, community and any chance she has to celebrate the gorgeousness that is being queer. When it comes to applying her makeup, it's a time for her to play and try something new.
"Makeup is transformative, it gives you the chance to look at yourself through another lens," Lucky tells Refinery29 Australia. "Whether that’s doing full drag makeup and feeling the fantasy, or using a bright coloured eyeliner or mascara to accessorise a look — makeup is a beautiful way to show the world who you are."
Whether it's for the annual parade, Melbourne's Midsumma or Sydney's BWYASSS House Of Pride, take one of the below looks out for a spin for Mardi Gras this year.
In the beauty world, this year is all about experimenting with your brows. To give those arches a Mardi Gras twist, add a bold-coloured pigment to accent your eyeliner.
To recreate this one at home, Lucky suggests applying concealer over your brows to block the natural hair colour. Then, using an angled brush, Lucky would apply bright eyeshadow on top, and seal it all in place with a clear brow gel.
Pay homage to the classic Pride flag with rainbow eyeshadow this Mardi Gras. To make this look work at home, Lucky would use lighter colours towards the inner corner of your eye, and darker colours on the outer. This will help add dimension and make your eyes really pop.
"To achieve this look, I would apply yellow shadow in the inner corner of the eyelid, followed by orange in the centre and red or pink to the outer corner," says Lucky. "Blend the edges of each colour with a clean fluffy brush for a seamless finish."
To complete the look on the lower lash line, Lucky recommends using light blue on the inner corner of your eye and purple on the outer portion.
Make the whole room shimmer with carefully placed gems to embellish a minimal makeup look. While Lucky can't get enough of the way the light catches on these gems, she has to warn us, they can be incredibly fiddly. She has a bunch of tried and tested tips to make the process much easier.
"Firstly, map out where you are going to place your gems with a white eyeliner pencil," Lucky explains. "Then use a cotton tip or a nail dotting tool (these can be bought online), and dip it into some eyelash glue."
Next, comes the fiddly part where you have to actually apply the gems.
"You could try holding your breath and using tweezers but I find the gems slip out of the grip and my hand gets way too shaky. So instead, dip a makeup brush or nail dotting tool in some vaseline. Use the tip of the brush to pick up the top side of the gem and then place it onto your glue spot. It’s a foolproof way to speed things up and not lose your mind in the process."
Eye-catching pops of neon on the cheeks, temples and forehead were spotted on the runway at Etro's 2023 Spring/Summer show in Milan last September, which can only mean one thing... the bold blush of the 1980s is back with a bang!
This is one easy look to recreate at home. To start, grab your blush brush and buff a light shade of yellow into the outer part of your eye, drawing it up to the temple and along the cheekbone as you blend.
Lucky suggests following this up by using a slightly smaller brush to add depth with an orange shade over the tops of the cheekbones. "Then, blend the two colours [together] to create a sexy gradient," she says. "You could also use pinks or blues or purples — the world is your oyster!"
Another simple look that achieves maximum impact is a shimmer-metallic shadow.
Lucky uses either a cream eyeshadow or shadow stick as a base to sketch out the shape she wants for this look. To create the shiny pop, all you need to do is spray a flat eyeshadow brush with water or setting spray and dip it into a bright metallic eyeshadow.
"Wetting the brush amplifies the colour payoff and melts the pigment into molten glowing deliciousness," says Lucky. "Press it over the cream shadow to not only set the look but create longevity, so you can dance the night away."
If you’re in Sydney and want to try one of these looks out for World Pride, the BWYASSS House of Pride is the perfect place to show it off. The immersive experience is being curated by comedy duo Two Queers, with a DJ set by Confidence Man and will see creatives from the LGBTQIA+ community take over various rooms in a venue to celebrate the widespread identities of queer folks. For a chance to win a free double pass, all you need to do is tell BWS what part of your queer identity you're most proud of.