A Night at the Opera, Backstage at Valentino
“We’re using theatrical contours in a very minimal way,” face painter Pat McGrath said of the makeup at Valentino, calling upon references like Maria Callas in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1969 silver-screen adaptation of Medea. “It’s about building and structuring the face with light.” Similar to a trick often used onstage, McGrath swathed the top half of the face in a pale foundation, then used a highlighter on the inner corners of the eyes, cheekbones, Cupid’s bow, and chin. She ran a nude pencil along the waterlines to cancel any redness, washed lids with a light dusting of contour powder, and dabbed concealer lightly onto lips. A milder version of the metallic brows seen at Christian Dior also showed up here, with arches being coated in a shimmery gold cream.
Hairstylist Guido Palau took a more austere approach to the Valentino woman. “She’s still very beautiful, but more severe than usual,” he explained. He began by blowing strands smooth with Redken Satinwear 02 and making a crisp line down the center from forehead to crown. Next, he teased the area where the parting ended to build volume. Two panels of hair were set aside on either side of the face before placing the ornate leather headband provided by the house on each model’s head. Then the length was gathered into a low, clean ponytail and the two front pieces were pulled back over the ears, wrapped around the elastic, doused in hair spray, and set with heat. Not a single bobby pin was used (or at least visible), making for an impeccable and seamless finish.
“Opera was [once] the pop music of the day, so we were trying to make that modern,” elaborated McGrath. As a classic aria echoed through the Jardin des Tuileries, it was possible to imagine this look making an appearance not only at Lincoln Center, but also on the red carpet—worn by the likes of front-row fixture Ciara.