“I’m glad to be getting back to my roots,” Eugene Souleiman joked—no pun intended—backstage at Mary Katrantzou, where the hair hero and Wella Professionals global artistic director made his grand return to London fashion week after a five-year hiatus. He picked a good show for his comeback, too; Katrantzou’s whimsical prints pack plenty of power in the way of beauty inspiration.
“[They're] very conceptual,” Souleiman admitted of the designer’s Spring fabrics, which included colorful, graphic adaptations of exotic stamps and banknotes, which caused the coiffeur to stay the “couture and sharp” course with the hair in complement. “The detail of the clothes needed something minimal to go with it,” he elaborated of the four-section updo that was based loosely on the aerodynamic shape of a “cycling helmet.” Prepping strands with Wella Create Character Texturizing Spray, Souleiman built a tight bun with the bulk of models’ lengths to anchor a panel of hair from the right side, followed by a panel of hair on the left side that he wrapped and secured on top of the chignon. A front section of hair was then combed backward and set with Wella Finish Shimmer Delight Shine Spray to “elongate and extend the shape of the head in a slightly alien way.” An additional otherworldly element came from Josh Wood, the London-based colorist who dyed a few girls, including Australian stunner Chrystal Copland, a platinum shade akin to “crisp linen” using Wella’s new Illumine range.
Makeup artist Val Garland’s contributions centered around a “ballpoint blue eye that referenced the inky colors of an English pound” (editor’s note: Blue is the new black when it comes to eyeliner for Spring). The precise shade of matte midnight pigment was a mix of two MAC Lipmixes in Blue and Red, which Garland drew onto the upper lash line in a thick, elongated, almond shape to adhere to Katrantzou’s mandate that the girls look “modern and linear.” Garland ditched mascara altogether and gave lips a clear moisturized finish with a swipe of MAC Lip Conditioner. Her intention was to keep skin looking “polished,” which was just fine with St. Tropez skin finishing expert Nichola Joss, who was giving models a “velvet tan” by buffing St. Tropez Instant Glow Wash Off Mousse mixed with its Body Butter into skin with a mitt, to which she added a light layer of St. Tropez Rose Skin Illuminator for a pastel sheen.
Topshop Unique’s girl is effortlessly cool and understatedly chic—a profile that was made infinitely clear with a quick peruse of the show’s front row. Next to Elle Fanning sat Leigh Lezark, who was a stone’s throw away from Poppy Delevingne, Pixie Geldof, Tallulah Harlech, and Olivia Palermo. “She’s the girl that everyone wants to be,” hairstylist Anthony Turner confirmed backstage, where the It-ness of it all was reinforced with a gaggle of the season’s biggest catwalkers. Cara, Jourdan, et al. got Turner’s low side parts, which were tucked behind the ears and treated with L’Oréal Beach Frizz for a shine-free, matte texture. “It’s the day after the night before,” he explained, throwing in a “nineties Kate Moss” reference as well as the words “very cool” to describe strands, thus completing the season’s hair inspiration trifecta. As models lined up before the show, Turner roughed up the hairline and broke up sections in the back, creating a randomness to the otherwise uniform coifs.
“It’s nineties grunge meets punk,” makeup artist Hannah Murray further elaborated, giving a “pretty edge” to designer Kate Phelan’s white and pale yellow palette. Mixing two Topshop Makeup Blushes in Prime Time and Flush, Murray made a makeshift, rosy eye shadow, which she dabbed with the silvery shade from its Eyeshadow Palette in Constellation to give lids a sheer iridescence. Cheeks were contoured using Topshop Lips in Beguiled, a vampish dark red that was layered with a dollop of its Balm for a dewy finish. To ensure the girls didn’t look “too done,” Murray took mouths down with a finger-patting of foundation while manicurist Anatole Rainey reprised Spring’s “nothing nail” with Topshop Nails in Nice & Neutral.
Lips haven’t really been the big story of the Spring shows thus far, as eyes—and more often than not, contours and shadows—dominated the backstage scene in New York. That continues to be the case in London, as a certain pared down, nineties beauty mantra presided over Dion Lee, Peter Pilotto, and Christopher Kane this morning (more on that in a bit). But a few mouth moments have still managed to creep into a season that is usually littered with luxe lips, the better to play with when the weather (and the collective mood) lightens up. Pat McGrath debuted a perfect red at Anna Sui last week, and Michael van der Ham and Louise Gray both called for coral at their respective shows today. But Andrew Gallimore did them all one better at Holly Fulton this weekend, whipping up a two-tone mouth that’s prepped and primed for a little summer fun. Lining pouts with MAC Lip Pencil in Embrace Me, a hot magenta, Gallimore concocted a creamy, custom pink pigment with a blend of its Lipmix in Fuchsia and White, which he used to bolster the outline before applying a few brushstrokes of its Lipmix in Orange to the center. It’s cute and a little kitschy, and it definitely managed to jar us out of our minimalism-inspired complacency, for the time being at least. Would you wear it?
“Seventies disco punk” was where makeup artist Lucia Pieroni firmly placed the makeup look backstage at Jonathan Saunders, confirming our suspicions that the designer’s woman had loosened up from her more precise, uptight beginnings. “It’s the day after a big night out,” Pieroni elaborated, cuing up a requisite lived-in liner look of the day-old variety.
Giving skin a “gorgeous, dewy finish” with highlights courtesy of luminescent shades of MAC Cream Colour Base in Luna and Hush, Pieroni relied on her trusty MAC Eye Kohl in Smolder, a rich black, to rim lids, slicking on a touch of grease and smudging the line with her fingers. The pencil was also used in between lashes, instead of mascara, to enhance the undone feel. Added to this was a stamped-on bordeaux lip, which Pieroni created with a deliberate etching of MAC Lip Pencil in Burgundy, a rich wine hue that she was adamant about keeping in the center of mouths, rather than traced around the edges. “Keep [the lips] heart-shaped and perfect,” she instructed her team, adding a dollop of clear gloss in the center of pouts, right before models hit the runway.
“She’s a bit dangerous and has attitude,” Paul Hanlon elaborated, repurposing the D-word that guided him through much of the New York shows. Spritzing hair with L’Oréal Studio Matte & Messy Salt Spray through the mid-lengths, Hanlon worked the product through the ends with his fingers and a diffuser to bring a natural movement to the look. Random sections were given a gentle wave to keep them from appearing too uniform. Then, coating his hands with L’Oréal Studio Silk & Gloss Straight Cream, Hanlon swept side parts over to the left, sculpting them over one eye to add “mystery.” Elnett Diamond Hold & Shine Hairspray kept strands in place and flyaways at bay.
Paul Hanlon was psyched backstage at Proenza Schouler. “This collection is quite exceptional—it’s beyond,” he effused. “These guys are always ahead of the pack.” This will be the hairstylist’s fifth season with Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, and at this point, he’s got the “Proenza girl” pegged—as well he should; Hanlon’s special brand of downtown cool has helped further define the designers’ woman. “She’s not a good girl, she’s a dangerous girl,” he offered—”whose hair looks like it needs a wash.”
With Kurt Cobain’s iconic, languid locks as his guide, Hanlon set to work on building a “vey stringy” texture, misting hair down with water and using his hands to layer Frédéric Fekkai’s Perfectly Luscious Curl Wave Activating Spray through the lengths. Every girl wore a stretchy latex, leather black cuff to elongate her neck, and rather than pull center-parted strands through the accessory, which he felt would look “too conceptual,” Hanlon had other plans. To give a “natural effect,” he braided under sections to remove extra weight and gathered hair into a ponytail, the base of which he spritzed with Fekkai’s Sheer Hold Hairspray. “We’re going to cut it right before they go out,” he explained of the elastic, tying mesh scarves on top of the cuffs and around the ponytail to further set the resulting indentation. Hanlon added a final “electric” element by using his fingers to rub the crown of the head for a frizzy, static effect, which created a further dichotomy between his contribution and the clothes. “You’ve got these incredibly expensive fabrics and hair that’s just whatever,” he said—a directive that came right from McCollough and Hernandez. “They’re really good at describing hair,” Hanlon attests. “I’m sure Lazaro was a hairdresser in a former life.”
Makeup artist Diane Kendal is a similarly longstanding member of team Proenza, and she too is well versed at channeling the house’s “urban feel,” which reliably calls for strong brows, smudged lids, and clean skin. Using MAC Studio Finish Concealer where needed, Kendal applied a nude-pink lipstick on the apples of the cheeks to get a sheer flush with a bit of sheen. Lower lash lines were then lined with its Eye Pencil in Coffee, which was also placed in the crease and blended over lids for a subtle stain. Skipping the mascara, Kendal’s finishing touch came via her signature “boyish” brows, which were filled in and brushed up. Even “real girl”-inspired beauty requires a few extra steps.