So I was looking at pictures of Willow Smith, as one is wont to do after she shows up on a red carpet like that of the 2022 iHeartRadio Music Awards, and two thoughts immediately popped into my head. First: This is a seriously gorgeous goth moment. Second: Why does her makeup seem so familiar? And then it hit me: It looks like a more subtle version of the makeup traditionally worn by one of those sad Pierrot clowns. 

Depending on which version of a sad clown your grandmother had a painting of in her guest room, the phrase “sad clown” may make you picture the “tramp clown” (an industry term, apparently) with the wide, white mouth and stubble, or the more commedia dell’arte, mime-esque Pierrot, which typically involves black eye makeup that comes to a point in the center of the lower lid, and very often dark or black lipstick (though the sweet-faced versions in 1980s Mira Fujita paintings typically kept the lip colors light). The latter is what I’m talking about here. (In other words: I’m not insulting Willow Smith, like, at all.)

Although Smith didn’t go the full costume-y route with the white face paint Pierrot clowns are often seen wearing, it does seem as though makeup artist Raoúl Alejandre might have been inspired by their go-to eye and lip look, giving her a semi-matte black lip and toning down the intensity of the pointed eye look. And while, at first glance, it may seem like Alejandre created the mid-lid points with eyeliner — he’s known for graphic liner looks — a closer look reveals that it was created with a tiny slab of false eyelashes applied right in the center of Smith’s lower lash line. Brilliant.

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