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Backstage At Haider Ackermann: “What Hair Would Look Like If Jackson Pollock Was A Hairdresser”


Every season, there are a few shows that jar us out of any complacency that may have set in after three straight weeks of work and traveling, and make us open your weary eyes wide in awe, even at 7:30 in the morning. On a Saturday. Today we had such an awakening. “It’s all about this kind of apparition feeling—not ghosts but irrealism,” makeup artist Stéphane Marais said backstage at Haider Ackermann, where he created otherworldly pale, transparent skin using a particularly off-kilter method: “I’m doing a clay mask and breaking it off with a brush,” he explained.

And so, models took coffee and wandered back and forth from the dressing room wearing full, powdery face masks that Marais literally mixed with water on-site and painted on, allowing them to harden before he swept them off, rather than removing them with a damp washcloth. “All of the silhouettes [of the clothes] are strong, but I love the mix of strong with fragile,” he said, elaborating on the rationale behind the paled-out complexions that he ran by Ackermann on a casual meeting of minds. “We’re neighbors,” Marais said of the designer. “I went over to his house and we realized that every girl was going to have one outfit.” To play up that individuality, Marais also added a custom-colored lip that ranged from coral to red to fuchsia to violet to plum, using MAC Lip Pencils in Vino, Spice, and Night Moth topped with its Lipstick in Rebel, a deep berry, or Vegas Volt, a bright orange-red. Eyes were sculpted through the socket with MAC Eyebrows in Lingering while lids were shaded with a blend of its Mixing Mediums Shine and Cream Color Base in Bronze for a glossy, gilded effect that juxtaposed the texture of the matte lip and velvety skin. Marais’ unique face-painting effort had a dual purpose too. “When [the girls] leave and wash off the mask, their skin will be baby soft!”

Eugene Souleiman’s “roughest, rawest, ugliest” hair that was purposely made to look “unhealthy” was presumably less of a treat to deal with postshow. “[The hair] is meant to seem like it’s evolved—maybe it’s been bleached, then it was dyed black, and then we added a little bronze,” he explained. Prepping strands with Wella Professionals Ocean Spritz Beach Texture Hairspray, Souleiman gathered the lengths into a ponytail brushing a halo of baby hair forward, before he sprayed a black aerosol hair color all over the roots and across the ponytail itself in a “nonchalant way.” Then, after securing a messy, “raw” knot that he literally just smashed onto the head and pinned down haphazardly, Souleiman brushed the baby hairs backward, sprayed the ends with a silver hair color, and then painted them in stripes of creamy metallic bronze makeup. “It’s what the hair would look like if Jackson Pollock was a hairdresser,” he surmised of the style. “It’s not about thinking about it, it’s about gestures, and the grand gesture here is: I don’t care.”

Photo: Luca Cannonieri /

Backstage Reviews