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"Cat's Eyes" Let Women Express Their Inner Devil (December 26, 2005)

Shibasaki Kou (Jiji)
More and more Japanese women are sporting a makeup look popularly known as nekome (cat's eyes). Sultry, feline-looking eyes complement the Victorian fashions and the fur and other luxurious materials that define this winter's fashion. This makeup style starts with eyeliner, drawn all around the eye and extending slightly beyond the outer corner in an upward direction. Next, mascara and eye shadow are applied. The color of the eye shadow can be varied to create a sexy, intellectual, or feminine air, depending on the occasion.

An Ideal Match for Winter Fashion
For the past few years, the trend in makeup has been toward placing a firm emphasis on the eyes. Until now, a big, round-eyed look reminiscent of Bambi or a dewy-eyed Chihuahua puppy has been the most popular style. But this fall and winter, mischievously slanted "cat's eyes" have taken over. In keeping with this trend, the overall tone of makeup is shifting from soft and sweet to sultry and adult.

The new makeup trend was sparked by this fall and winter's fashion: Victorian-inspired clothing adorned with lace, frills, and embroidery, and boleros, coats, and military-style jackets made of fur and other luxurious materials. These fashions lend themselves to a defined, upturned eye line rather than the wide-eyed look popular in recent seasons. Another factor in the cat's eye craze is a book titled Koakuma na Onna ni Naru Hoho (How to Become a Little Devil), which came out in May 2004. This book has spawned a growing population of aspiring koakuma (little devils): women who captivate men with their cute yet sexy looks and their guileless, uninhibited ways. The ultimate embodiment of the little devil is French actress Brigitte Bardot, who expressed her innocent sex-kitten persona in films like And God Created Woman (1956). A growing number of Japanese women are emulating this model of womanhood, complementing it with cat's eye makeup. Current headline-making actresses like Shibasaki Kou and Ito Misaki are fueling the craze with their almond-eyed looks.

J-pop stars have also been getting in on the act. In an October 2005 survey by the showbiz magazine Oricon Style, pop fans were asked to rank female entertainers whom they considered to have devilish allure. Pop singers monopolized the first five places, with Otsuka Ai, who has a huge following among teenagers, coming top, followed by Koda Kumi, Hamasaki Ayumi, Matsuura Aya, and Nakashima Mika.

Full-On Mascara, Eyeliner, and Eye Shadow
The essential ingredient of nekome is eyeliner, which is applied both above and below the eye, with the line extended slightly beyond the outer corner and slanted upward. Liquid eyeliner is used to achieve the neatest possible line. The line is slanted upward at the outer corner and slightly downward at the inner corner to create almond-shaped eyes.

Mascara, liberally applied to both the upper and the lower lashes, makes the eyes stand out even more. Extra coats of mascara on the outer lashes make them look longer and bolder - a key element of the cat-eyed look. Some women achieve this by applying mascara only on the outer lashes. Completing this year's look is eye shadow, which is applied to the lower lids, too. Color variations abound. Greens, blues, and grays project a mature, intellectual air; purple is sexy; while coarse-flecked gold lame sparkles at parties. To keep the emphasis on the eyes, blush and lipstick are used only sparingly.

Fashion watchers will be tracking the twin trends of "little devils" and "cat's eyes" closely to see how they evolve over the coming seasons.

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Copyright (c) 2005 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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