August 20 2014

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Helmet Hair, Backstage at Alexander McQueen


AlexanderMcQueenAlexander McQueen’s woman is never a wallflower and always a warrior, hair pro Guido Palau explained, fitting all forty models with metal helmets (designed by both Sarah Burton and himself). And similar to the many wigs we saw for Spring 2014, the armor was meant to provide “instant character” and “unify,” rather than reference a certain period—citing everything from Tron to twenties bobs as an inspiration for the final shape. Since the “head jewelry” was one-size-fits-all, Palau slicked back strands using Redken Hardwear 16 Super Strong Gel and pinned sponges in various places to prevent anything from wobbling on the runway.

With Jean-Michel Basquiat serving as one of the references, face painter Peter Philips perhaps looked to the artist’s early days, when he dabbled in graffiti on the Lower East Side of New York City, and blasted hairlines with Fardel water-based black pro paint using an air-brush system. “I wanted to create a shadow that would connect the face to the helmet and make the models more anonymous,” he said, also noting the Maasai people and how he aimed to create a tribelike effect. And while Philips said he’d normally describe the house muse as a “nonexistent girl,” this season she retained a sense of reality, as the skin was kept natural in lieu of porcelain doll- or alien-like complexions. “They’re warriors, but not space warriors,” he said of the finished product, bringing the fantastical McQueen woman slightly (and I reiterate, slightly) back down to earth.

Photo: Gianni Pucci /

Backstage Reviews