Pan Am Goes The Distance
We have come to rely on HBO for shows that wow us not only in the entertainment department but in the hair and makeup departments as well—the retro glamour of Boardwalk Empire and Mildred Pierce, the medieval warrior beauty on Game of Thrones, and what just might be the best French braid to ever grace the small screen on Big Love. But the latest show to pique our beauty interest happens to be on—gasp—network TV. ABC’s Pan Am peers into the lives of the now defunct airline’s oh-so-fab stewardesses (they weren’t flight attendants in those days) at a time when air travel was still considered a glamorous affair. The hair and makeup of the show’s leading ladies is just that, with French twists, red lips, liquid liner, and blown-out flips in equal measure. Here, Style.com catches up with the hair and makeup gurus behind the sixties-era flashback to talk archival image research, pastel eye shadows, and lots and lots of hairspray.
Where do you get your inspiration for the different beauty looks you explore on this show?
Chris Clark, Hair Department Head: We created looks that reflect the period though the eyes of excited twentysomething explorers—our young jet-set crew taking in the fashions and customs of their destinations. As the show takes us around the world, we are doing constant research for each new city our cast encounters. So we pay close attention to the story line of each character, the look of the inhabitants and tourists, and how best to pop our cast in each new unique locale. One of the things I find most exciting is seeing the cast go from the world within the Clipper Majestic [planes] to their more casual private lives. We are able to create an interesting juxtaposition between work and play.
Did you do a ton of period research before production started to get your style arsenal sorted?
Patricia Regan, Makeup Department Head: Yes, extensive photographs of 1963: fashion, documentary, people, as well as Pan Am history—how did the stewardesses of Pan Am look back then, as well as general grooming guidelines. What makes this show’s looks unique is the influence of world travel; their looks are continuously shaped by what they see during their stays all over the world, may it be Jakarta or Paris, Rome or Brazil. I try to combine the style of the past with the tools of the present to give a fresh new look.
CC: We are actually lucky enough to have a producer that was a Pan Am stewardess in the 1960′s as well, so her knowledge and experience as well as her candid photos have lent a personal approach to the process. We are able to get a very true taste of the times, as well as an insider’s account of the grooming regulations—and how they were sometimes broken.
Do different characters have purposely different hair and makeup looks?
CC: All our ladies and gents have been trimmed into shapes that reflect the early-1960′s silhouette. Our gentlemen are cut with neat sides and napes, and the pilots’ cuts are a bit more unstructured, showing the influence of intercontinental travel. The ladies’ shapes are based on research of the era, the story lines of their characters, and, of course, designed to be flattering and reflect their youth. Each morning we require a dozen sets of hot rollers, teasing brushes and combs, and a fair amount of hair spray.
PR: Each one has a little something different for their stewardess look as well as for their leisure looks; they are different people, after all. I am always trying to find ways to support the characters in the stories told. For example, Christina Ricci’s character Maggie wears a bit more eye makeup than the others because she is more fashion-forward and ahead of the times in every way.
What products do you keep close at hand on set?
CC: A few of my favorites are Kérastase Double Force hair spray, which is always with me, Elnet, Privé Firm Hold Hair Spray, and Sheer Lacquer by Shu Uemura. All the actors are also given Bumble and Bumble or Privé shampoo and conditioner to maintain the health of the hair and prep it for the styling of the day.
PR: For our “basic” look I apply a matte finish foundation such as Make Up For Ever HD foundation or La Mer treatment powder foundation. Then I brush and groom eyebrows to define a natural fuller shape, fill in, and extend a touch with a matching brow shade like those by Three Custom Color. After, I apply eye shadow in pale blue, soft green, or lavender on the eyelid and draw a line along upper lashes with either black or brown eyeliner—MAC’s gel liner in Blacktrack or Dipdown are my favorite because they stay on without ever smudging. Next, I apply mascara (Dior Iconic or L’Oréal Voluminous), and for extra drama I’ll try a couple of Ardell short flares on the outer corners of eyelashes, then blush the apple of the cheeks and use EOS’ egg-shaped lip balm.
Do you find that grooming rituals have changed dramatically 50 or so years on from 1963?
CC: The glamour has faded quite a bit. When I fly now since starting the show, I can’t help but think that some of the polish is missing. Today’s fight attendants have much more to contend with, so it is quite understandable that the fashions and hair choices changed as a result.
Did you ever fly Pan Am yourself?
PR: Yes, I most certainly did! In the late 1980′s, from London to New York, and New York to Los Angeles.