Mesmerizing makeup inspired by Maldivian fish species

By: Ashley Gustafson

In a society ridiculed for its generally “shallow” nature of ageless looks and size 0 jeans, it is nice to see a makeup artist going for a “deeper” approach; and of course by “deeper” I mean she found her inspiration in the ocean! As someone whose idea of fancy makeup is winged eyeliner or a bright lipstick, I may not be able to fathom when I would ever see these high fashion masterpieces but I can appreciate that they draw their inspiration from some of the most fascinatingly, beautiful ocean life.

Behind the ocean inspiration

The mastermind behind these “fishy” trends is celebrity makeup artist Karla Powell. She looked to the Maldivian fish found in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Maldives are infamously bright and add an illuminating quality to the waters they inhabit. The picture above shows the inspiration of the Lyre Anthias fish. The artist wanted to emit the energy of the fish and the coral reefs where they live. Powell describes this look as her favorite stating, “This was my favorite creation in the series. With this abstract eye creation I strived to create a balance between a variety of colors and textures. The different application techniques and placement of color cause the viewer’s eyes to bounce around the image, echoing the sense of movement and energy you find in the coral reefs.” One very interesting and quite unique fact about the Lyretail anthias is that they are protogynous hermaphrodites. This means that the most dominant female in a population can reverse or change her sex if the dominant male in the population dies. Quite the adaptation! The picture here below shows another of Powell’s looks; lips inspired by the Clown Tiggerfish. The look is not only innovative and striking, but beautiful and unique like the fish itself. The Clown Tiggerfish is generally shy and solitary (definitely not like this look)! Their dramatic coloration is used as a way to distract and confuse predators as from above their white spots look like the ocean surface while from above the fish blends right into the reef ecosystem they call home.

Powell’s project was commissioned by the holiday company Kuoini. Powell made the looks using acrylic painting brushes in place of traditional make up tools. She also used her skills with non-traditional makeup applications including face paints, loose eye shadow powders, and glitter. Below is another one of her looks from the collection. Powell used authentic rose petals to match the Blue Lined Surgeon’s texture of scales and ombre colors. Powell explains the look on the Kuoini website by stating, “This lip art design was a chance for me to interpret the astonishing details of the Blue Lined Surgeon Fish. By using vibrant ombre lip colors and layering real rose petals on the upper lip, the lips emulate the Surgeon’s scale texture and coloring. The upper three quarters of the Surgeon are banded alternately with black-edged blue and yellow stripes and I introduced elastic string to mimic these strong lines. This gives the look a unique and mysterious appearance, just like the Surgeon fish.”

High end makeup inspiring coral conservation

I imagine Kuoini commissioned the project as a way to highlight some of the Maldives most beautiful species of fish. By inspiring #makeupgoals hopefully tourists will be interested in snorkeling or diving the regions beautiful reefs to see Powell’s inspiration up close.