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Hair Weaving At Its Finest, Backstage At McQueen


Yesterday was a busy one for Peter Philips. In addition to choreographing the sensational smoky-eye display at Chanel, the makeup artist headed up face-painting duties at Alexander McQueen as well, a show that couldn’t have been more different, beauty-wise. “Light, luminous, gothic” is how Philips described the clean, glowing skin that Sarah Burton wanted to complement her “Earth Mother” debut collection for the house. “We decided to keep the girl really pure, very serene, almost a bit more fragile—and a bit more girly,” Philips said backstage—a departure, to be sure, from the more outrageous feats he has put together here in the past (three words: amphibious facial prosthetics). To achieve this effect, Philips used Chanel’s Pro Lumiere Semi-Matte Foundation, adding a sheen to eyelids with its Ombre Essentielle eye shadow in Ivory and a highlight to cheeks with the brand’s Poudre Lumiere Perlée for a hint of shimmer.

Philips’ deliberate decision to eschew mascara, shading, and color in general is a continuation of a general theme at this show, in which he typically casts a neutral color palette to make room for big hair and big scenery. The latter may have been more subdued for Spring 2011, but Guido Palau’s coifs were as intricate as ever, albeit a touch softer. “There were many permutations,” Palau said of the basket-weaving technique he ultimately employed backstage. “But in the end it was highly technical yet very simple.” Working off a pagan theme, Palau divided models’ hair into three sections before adding extensions over and under natural strands for a woven effect, ending each panel in a skinny braid. Back panels were folded flat against the head and pinned in place before the entire head was sprayed with Redken’s Forceful 23 hair spray—and lots of it. At last count, 60 bottles had been used to hold things in place.

Photo: Luca Cannonieri /

Beauty Insider