Alexander 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.
“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.
Karl 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.
Getting ahold of one of the most in-demand makeup artists during Paris fashion week is a feat unto itself, but I finally managed to snag Pat McGrath (for one minute and twelve seconds, to be exact) to discuss the gilded details at Dior.
The “brocade” brows covered in layers of glue, metallic theatrical paint, and glitter were as textural as they were striking—appearing as if they were cast from the precious metal itself. McGrath built upon this element (similar to the approach taken at Derek Lam) by adding “organic sweeps” of the same paint on lids and lower lash lines. The third and final touch was a band of baby blue or sea foam green eyeliner that played upon Raf Simons’ flora-strewn wonderland.
While you wouldn’t catch the majority of the fashion and beauty set within a mile radius of the Golden Arches, I have a feeling they’ll be lusting after the looks McGrath was serving up on the runway.
I doubt that Giambattista Valli had Whitney Houston’s eighties hit “So Emotional” in mind when deciding on the look for today’s show, but the “tea-stained” eye makeup by Val Garland certainly brought the lyrics to mind. “She’s woken up from last night and she’s a bit brokenhearted,” explained the face painter of the designer’s muse.
To get the shadowy effect, she blended two colors from the MAC Spring ’14 Trend Forecast Eye Palette (March Mist and Cultivating Chic) to create a mushroom-rose hue and swept it across lids and underneath eyes—diffusing any harsh lines with a brush. A nude pencil was employed along the lower waterlines to cancel any redness the models have acquired at this point during fashion month. For seamless skin minus a heavy base, Garland broke down foundation with Care Blends Essential Oils and applied a bronze shade of Cream Colour Base in the hollows of the cheeks for subtle definition. The same oil was used to sheer out a pearly white highlighter before dabbing it on the tops of cheekbones, the inner corners, and just below the eyes. “There is always a shine detail somewhere at Valli—for Fall it was about a face stretching [sheen], this season it’s about a tear.” Lips, however, were “gloss negative,” with Mixing Medium Matte used to tone down the violet shade lightly patted onto models’ pouts.
Hair wasn’t a weepy affair for Orlando Pita: “She’s still very much a woman with personality and confidence that trusts in her natural beauty,” he said. To reflect this idea of empowerment, Pita made a French twist that was less “madame” and more deconstructed. “I’m always trying to achieve [a style] that appears as if a girl has done it herself,” he explained. To get that DIY feeling, he worked L’Oréal Professional Super or Texture Dust (depending on hair type) through the top section, then misted his hands with Elnett hair spray before scraping strands back with his fingers. Next, he rolled up the length and secured the twist on a diagonal with pins—keeping the sides tight but the crown area slightly loose, for an imperfect finish.
In the end, it seems that the Giambattista Valli girl doesn’t cry for long, or wait around for a man to bring her “forgive me” flowers—especially when she can buy them for herself, strewn across the shoulders of a well-tailored blazer (Look 27) or attention-grabbing mini (Look 29).