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July 31 2014

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Backstage At McQueen, The Future Is Bright—And It Includes French Manicures

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Guido Palau’s hair color statement of late has leaned overwhelmingly towards the dark arts; after taking Kasia Struss rich chestnut brown last season, he broke out a deep espresso hue last month at Calvin Klein, notably dyeing the flaxen-haired Patricia van der Vliet a shade of near black. But the man who brought icy blond back in a major way for Spring 2010 still has a little bit of a platinum streak left in him. “I was thinking of Village of the Damned,” Palau said backstage at Alexander McQueen, where he referenced the 1960′s sci-fi horror flick as well as Hitchcock’s Vertigo when discussing the white-gold bobs he gave all 34 models.

“Sarah [Burton] lets me play around with the whole area,” Palau said of everything above the neck, which he set to “depersonalizing” this season so as not to conflict with Burton’s personality-filled collection. “It’s very manga-feeling,” the coiffing star continued of the uniform wigs he razor-cut and then heavily spritzed with Redken Forceful 23 Super Strength Finishing Spray to mold strands away from the hairline. To further the futuristic effect he was after, the Redken creative consultant affixed a reflective visor that he designed in collaboration with Burton to each style, explaining that he had been looking through Japanese cartoons—”all the Speed Racers”—and wanted to re-create that “helmet” shape with the hair. “I tried couture hair because ideally you want the hair to be done,” he said, but ultimately the weird and wonderful won out over the demure and dainty. “The head has to be dynamic [here],” he affirmed.

With much of the face under cover, Peter Philips’ job was pretty easy. “It’s just foundation,” he said bluntly, brushing on a full-coverage application of Chanel Mat Lumière Fluid Makeup or its Pro Lumière Professional Finish Makeup, leaving both the brows and lips visible rather than blocking them out. “You don’t see the face, but you feel the face,” he continued, mentioning that the goal was to make the girls look statuesque so nothing could distract from the clothes. “There’s not a gimmick; it’s purity,” he explained—a mantra that guided manicurist Marian Newman as well. To make tips look “über-done,” Newman layered a soft white lacquer on top of a beige sheer, the second French manicure sighting of the season—and a telltale sign that after the great nail art boom of 2011, the politics of polish have come full circle.

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