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August 30 2014

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Dissecting the “Language of Beauty,” Backstage at Valentino

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“The braid is part of the language of the beauty here,” Guido Palau said backstage at Valentino—a language, it should be noted, that has garnered almost as much attention as Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli’s gorgeous collections for this house. (Red-carpet watchers will fondly remember the plaited coronets Palau constructed four seasons ago that made a seamless—and well-documented—transition off the runway.) “They really understand what women want with beauty,” Palau continued, explaining the design duo’s low-on-product, high-on-accessibility aesthetic—the “I could look like that” factor that comes with the soft, pure, innocent styles they so often request.

For Fall, Palau prepped strands with Redken’s Satinwear 02 Ultimate Blow-Dry Lotion before devising a center part and weaving a simple three-section braid through extended lengths that were slung over models’ left shoulders. Referencing Flemish painters, as well as nodding to the seventies and Victoriana, he fastened a thick black leather band around the head and over the ears for a “monastic” touch.

Pat McGrath worked off Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring portrait that the designers showed her for inspiration, focusing her attention on creating “a softness but a realness” to the face. “There’s always a certain level of color here,” she pointed out, going through a greatest-hits backlog of her work for Chiuri and Piccioli, which has included exquisite lavender and gray contours in the past. This season, although nails were lacquered with two glossy coats of cherry-red polish, McGrath was working with peach, rose, and beige hues that she traced through the crease of eyes, swiped across cheeks, and blotted onto lips, often layering with foundation to “tone everything down.” Powdering complexions to give them the matte, velvety, “put-together” finish we’ve seen so much of this week, McGrath added brown mascara just at the roots of lashes for subtle definition.

Photo: Luca Cannonieri/ Gorunway.com

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