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April 24 2014

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Hieroglyphics And Honey, Backstage At Unique

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The cat was out of the bag when the invitations to Topshop Unique’s Spring show went out last week; the enlarged, black-and-white screen print of Elizabeth Taylor in 1963′s Cleopatra all but spelled out the inspiration for the retail giant’s Spring presentation. “It’s Egyptian, and hieroglyphics,” nail guru Sophy Robson said, painting a base of four different custom-blended colors onto all of the models, including pink, red, blue, and gold lacquers, and then topping them off with a series of hieroglyphic-inspired stickers and hand designs (that’s 400-plus fingers total, if anyone’s counting). “There’s definitely an Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra influence,” hairstylist Paul Hanlon confirmed, although he steered clear of Liz’s iconic black boxed bob, which he thought would look “retro and tacky.” Instead, Hanlon took the collection’s heavy-on-the gold palette and applied it to the hair. “Gel can look cheap and I wanted something expensive,” he said, spritzing a glossing spray onto the top of models’ heads and applying sheets of real gold leaf in one of the most original coiffing techniques we’ve seen yet. “I’m putting honey onto the hair and blowing the gold leaf on top so it sticks, because it’s very delicate,” Hanlon explained matter-of-factly. (Yes, we said honey.) To add “a youthful, haphazard effect,” he let the ends hang down in damp waves and proceeded to crack the gold leaf with a makeup brush so it appeared as though someone had “hit it with a hammer.”


With all the glitz and nail art, makeup artist Hannah Murray’s only choice was to keep the face pared down. “It’s a little bit of a Helmut Lang nineties girl,” she said, dabbing on Topshop’s Duo Concealer and using its Skin Glow, a rose illuminator, on the forehead, down the nose, and on cheekbones for a “polished feel.” While we imagine the urge to paint on a set of bold, black, Liz-like arches was hard to resist, Murray made like the rest of the makeup establishment this season and used Topshop Eyeshadow in Walnut to naturally build brows so they looked “brushed-up and boyish.”

Photo: Getty Images

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