Lashes and cornrows—two of the trends we’ve seen time and again this season—were taken to breathtaking extremes backstage. One could say that pushing things to the max was a signature of the late Alexander McQueen: “This was something Alexander really liked—it feels like a classic code of the house,” said Guido Palau. The never-ending plait dreamed up by the mane master and executed by a team of braiders was no doubt “severe,” but the long, flowing extensions that caught the wind on the runway gave the “silhouette a certain softness.”
“It’s futurism mixed with nature,” Pat McGrath said of the two gasp-inducing looks she devised for the show. “We decided to do the owl world in a punk eye makeup way.” Black spiky feathers hand cut and designed by the face painter were painstakingly glued one by one onto the brows and top lashes. “When would I ever make it easy?” she quipped of the dramatic maquillage that took nearly four and a half hours to complete. Her second creation (worn by the majority of the models) played with shading and light in lieu of plumes—using brick red, silver, and gold metallic pigments to lend a “futuristic” feeling to the face. The end result not only incited a frenzy of flashes from photographers (particularly around the catwalkers with those phenomenal “mothlike” eyes), but also perfectly captured the “McQueen world of innocence, romance, and darkness” with a sensitivity and boldness that won’t soon be forgotten.
“We wanted to do something that wasn’t classic or as normal as a braid or pony, so I added another dimension to the Valentino woman,” said Guido Palau of the superlong tails (26 inches, to be exact) that cascaded down models’ spines. The “dimension” came by way of “little balls or bubbles” that were tied off with black elastic—”a very sort of seventies, late sixties kind of idea,” he noted. The strict center part, slight height at the crown, and hair pulled over the ears—all quintessential beauty signatures of the house—remained.
Face painter Pat McGrath played with light and shading again this season (using a pale powder on the outside of the cheeks and a pearly highlighter above the Cupid’s bow), but added a touch of “eccentricity” with a gray-blue liner on the top and bottom lash lines. Judging by the end result, a dash of whimsy was the perfect way to up the ante on the label’s no-fail hair and makeup recipe.
From double-C branded ketchup to white rubber dish gloves adorned with black camellia flowers, the aisles of the Chanel supermarché were abundant with color. The angular wings sketched onto the outer corners of the eyes reflected not only the range of shades in the collection (including pink, orange, green, and marine blue), but the bottles of fizzy, neon-hued “Tweed Bubble” soda lined up on shelves and ultra-ripe produce piled in the center of the set. The silver shadow base, however, played off the leather-and-chain-link shopping baskets that only this particular French grocery would have on hand.
The ponytails crafted by Sam McKnight were “blown up in proportion” and “exaggerated” courtesy of tweed rags, lace, and pearls that were braided and woven into crimped extensions. (Before being wrapped around the base of the pony, the faux strands were prepped with a combo of Fudge Salt Spray and Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray.) The motley mix of textures in back (somewhat reminiscent of dreadlocks) contrasted with the sharp and smooth center parts at the front. If filling my fridge and pantry was always such a feast for the eyes, I might be tempted to skip Fresh Direct and stock up in person.
This season, the designer created clothes for a “woman who was confident to dress in women’s clothes,” but the makeup, as describe by face painter Val Garland, was “healthy, wealthy, and handsome.” Brushed-up brows, perfected complexions, and lips topped with a clear mattifying formula from MAC comprised the look. “Just before they go out, we are going to give them a little massage on their cheeks so we get nice, natural color—but it’s not a blush,” she noted. The sheen on the high points of the face came courtesy of moisturizer, rather than a shimmery pigment, applied with a fan brush. “I’m a bit over the frosty sheen of highlighter, I think it’s dying a death,” Garland said. And similar to the London shows, she made a point of not picking up mascara. “It can look commercial when what you want to get across is something more directional,” she explained. But for those of us in the live real world and not on the runway, she suggests hanging onto our go-to tubes. “You can’t live without it—none of us can.” As much as I despise scrubbing off the black rings that form post-shower, I have to agree.
Hair pro Orlando Pita crafted a clean, natural ponytail—adding shine and canceling any flyaways with L’Oréal Professionnel Mythic Oil. “This makes it shiny, touchable, and soft—all the things the girls’ [strands] aren’t during the season,” he said. The tails were bent slightly with a curling iron for movement. Asked if the hair would be tucked into the collars and high-necked pieces in the collection (a trend that’s held strong since New York), Pita said that would be a game-time decision left up to Valli. The “haphazard” feeling this finishing touch lends, however, is something the mane master fully supports: “It’s as if you just got up and threw on a T-shirt—except [the T-shirt] is actually a Giambattista Valli dress—and headed out the door.” That sounds like my kind of morning.
“We really wanted the girls to look absolutely beautiful, but different,” explained Pat McGrath of the look at Givenchy. The “beautiful” half of the equation was achieved via skin highlighted to a “shimmery perfection,” pinky-peach blush dusted on cheeks, beige shadow washed around the eyes, and white liner run along the inner rims. The “otherworldly and surreal” element came courtesy of bleached brows and square-cut, crimson “face tapes” layered with a “plastic coating” on both temples. A string was secured underneath, pulled taut, and tied at the back of the head—gently tugging models’ faces upward. It was definitely not meant to mimic a facelift, however, McGrath noted when asked. After all, these are teenage girls (at least in the case of Kendall Jenner) we’re talking about. The tape—meant to be seen as a fashion accessory—was very much a “statement of today.” The conjoined pigtail braids by Luigi Murenu were as graphic and interesting as the maquillage and certainly otherworldly in that there is no way on earth you’re going to be able to DIY this double plait.