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Gallery Girls, Backstage at Chanel

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ChanelKarl Lagerfeld turned the Grand Palais into a double-C-branded gallery, complete with a Chanel No. 5 robot, a canvas dripping with pearls, and a towering sculpture of the female form comprised of the chain-link leather straps that normally hang from the house’s signature handbags. But the girls who walked the runway were no starving artists, a point made clear by their luxe, textural suits and quilted cream and black leather portfolios.

“In my head, I was thinking that [the models] should look like those expert art ladies that are dressed in all black and slightly eccentric,” said hair guru Sam McKnight of the “downtown New York” and “slightly eighties” muse. Similar to Fendi, the models were fitted with architectural black, blonde, and brunette wigs that he described as “a cross between Darth Vader and a seventies flick.” The faux strands were bulked up with extensions and prepped with a wave-maker, industrial-strength hair spray and gel to give them a stiff, paintbrush-like quality. On site, the hair was tailored to each girl and flared out using a flatiron, then polished off with Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray to lend a flat finish.

The painterly eyes by Peter Philips were inspired not only by the colors used in the pieces that flanked the catwalk but also by a print shown to him by the designer. “It looked a bit like a sample card for a paint company,” he said. To create a blank canvas, he instructed his team to even complexions with Chanel Vitalumière Aqua foundation. The brows were elongated and given a more angular shape with Crayon Sourcils Sculpting Eyebrow Pencil. And before sending the models along, lashes were curled and coated with black mascara, and lips moisturized with Rouge Coco Balm.

Then the lead makeup artist went to town, framing the eyes with thick swatches of black liquid eyeliner that extended past the outer corners, and topping the stenciled arches with the same formula. Next, he dipped a #21 brush into vibrant cakes of theatrical paint in pink, lavender, sky blue, yellow, green, and coral—employing short, uninhibited strokes of contrasting colors across the lids, above the brows, and along the lower lash lines. While the swatches appear to have been placed at random, there was a method to the madness: Philips used only one hue at a time and blotted each with a tissue before applying the next shade—being sure to leave space between blocks to prevent them from running into one another. In addition, only two colors were applied near the tear duct. “There’s a symmetry to the look, but also calculated mistakes,” he explained. As a finishing touch, a BIC lighter was employed to disinfect and soften the tip of the Le Crayon Khol Intense Eye Pencil in Noir before running it across the waterline. The end result was nothing short of a makeup masterpiece.

Photo: Gianni Pucci / Indigitalimages.com

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