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July 29 2014

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“Light And Airy” Beauty Begets The Return Of The French Manicure, Backstage At Topshop

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Topshop Unique isn’t typically the first place you’d look for wearable hair and makeup looks that translate to everyday life. Few rushed to replicate the furry eyebrows and frizzy strands on offer at the Fall 2010 show, for example—or the Minnie Mouse noses circa Fall 2011. But under newly appointed creative director Kate Phelan, accessible has trumped kitsch for Fall 2012, in both the clothes and the beauty.

Light and feminine were the buzzwords Phelan gave her glam squad of makeup artist Hannah Murray, hair stylist Sam McKnight, and nail artist Anatole to suitably off-set a collection dominated by military lines, a dark utilitarian palette, and heavy fabrics. “We wanted to create an army of über-beauties,” Murray explained backstage, which was all about “fresh-faced luminosity and a defined eye.” Using a selection of the retail behemoth’s in-house cosmetics line, Murray reached for Topshop Glow, a highlighter that carved out cheekbones, the bridge of the nose, the brow ridge, and the cupid’s bow of lips, before painting mouths with its Lips in Nevada, a nude-peach color. Then she devoted her attention to lids, which were laden with mascara. “I’d been looking at Amy Arbus’ photographs of the 1980′s. I wanted to line the eyes but without a retro flick. I felt a curved wing would be more modern,” Murray explained, tracing Topshop Kohl in Coal along models’ upper lash lines, intensifying it as she went with its Matte Eyes shadow in Backboard.

McKnight kept things dually light and airy. “I wanted clean, fresh hair,” he explained. “No back-combing, just a little soft texture.” Prepping strands with Frédéric Fekkai Coiff Bouffant Lifting & Texturizing Spray Gel for a subtle lift, he coaxed each long mane into a buoyant bedhead with a boatload of shine.

But perhaps the greatest sign that the winds of change were upon us yesterday was that nail artist Anatole steered clear of the art-y designs that have prevailed here for the past few seasons. Gone were the hand-etched hieroglyphics and dalmatian-print spots, and in their place, a return to that old classic, the French manicure. “I haven’t done one in ages,” he admitted. “But look: It’s sheer, fresh, and cool,” the manicurist insisted, painting on a two-coat tip with Topshop Nails in White Lie topped with its creamy opaque Milkshake so the contrast wasn’t too stark.

Photo: Samir Hussein/Getty Images

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