The “girl coming out of the water” motif that tends to rear its soaking wet head come Spring is oft-charted territory. But there is something singularly gorgeous about it when it’s executed well—particularly when damp strands and luminous skin are paired with diaphanous, flowing, bead-encrusted fabrics like the ones Alberta Ferretti sent down her runway.
“It’s a wet look,” Guido Palau confirmed backstage at the designer’s show, spritzing strands with water before raking in a good amount of Redken Guts 10 Volume Spray Foam mousse and finishing with a few pumps of its Shine Flash 02 Glistening Mist. “There is a feminine softness to it, though,” Palau insisted, which came from ridged waves that he created by combing hair backward away from the hairline and setting it in a series of low, loose buns that were taken out just before the show to create definition and movement through the lengths.
Makeup artist Diane Kendal picked a palette of shimmering gold and silver to hold up her end of the watery bargain. Prepping fashion week-weary complexions with her trusty bottle of organic rosewater “to freshen the skin,” Kendal created a base with MAC Face and Body Foundation, contouring with its Powder Blush in Taupe and using its Powder Blush in Peaches to impart a warm flush to cheeks. But Kendal’s main focus was eyes, which she coated with MAC Pro Sculpting Cream in Copper Beach to serve as a tinted canvas for its Pigments in Gold and Tan that were dusted across lids for a metallic shine. Skipping mascara, as she’s been wont to do this season, Kendal drew a fine stroke of MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack along the upper lash line for definition. A final sweep of MAC Iridescent Powder in Silver Dusk across cheekbones created a reflective surface that contrasted with the mattifying Prep + Prime Transparent Finish Powder the face painter patted down the T-zone.
Like hemlines on a dress, you can often gauge the feeling of a season by the way Pat McGrath grooms an eyebrow. A bleaching proponent who is just as adept at sculpting full, bushy arches, McGrath is one of the industry’s best arbiters on beauty. So it goes without saying that we arrive backstage at Gucci every season—McGrath’s first big stop on what will be a whirlwind European tour—with high expectations. And they were met today, not because of what she did to brows, but what she didn’t do. “There were enough brows in New York,” the face painter said at Frida Giannini’s Spring show, leaving brows alone and referencing the minimalist, nineties beauty movement that reigned in Manhattan and required clean skin and beefed-up brows. “Let’s move on,” McGrath suggested, building a “strong eye” in contrast. “This is Milan. We’re not going to bore you with no makeup anymore.”
Applying a healthy dose of highlighter to cheekbones for a luxurious, luminous complexion, McGrath layered dark brown eye shadows and pencils across lids and underneath the lower lash line, focusing on an “almond, smoked-out” shape that anchored not one but two sets of false eyelashes. “It’s very Marisa Berenson but a little more natural,” said the woman known for applying upwards of ten lash sets to one model. The reference worked just fine for Luigi Murenu, who added seventies model and muse Maria Schiano to the inspirational mood board.
“It has a kind of sixties/seventies feeling to it—an Eastern, orientalist sophistication,” the coiffeur said of the Kiehl’s Clean Hold Styling Gel-slicked hair that he gathered into a low-slung knot at the nape of models’ necks. To give a sense of “structure and architecture” to the look, Murenu coated color-matched extensions with the same product and flat-ironed them so they resembled wooden panels, which he cut straight across and pinned into the base of the buns using John Frieda Frizz Ease Serum to smooth away errant strands. “Before they go out, they’re going to look like statues,” he surmised of the resulting stark uniformity.
The excitement level backstage at Burberry kicked up a few notches when Wendy Rowe picked up a bullet of red lipstick. It was as though time stopped, except for the singular, slow-motion movement of the makeup artist grabbing Burberry’s Lipstick in Siren, moving it ever closer to Constance Jablonski’s mouth. After many years of loyalty to an all-natural, earth-tone-only makeup palette, it appeared as though Christopher Bailey had decided to make a bold beauty move. “We’re doing a Norman Parkinson woman,” Rowe revealed. “She’s retro but also modern and has a definite forties look about her.”
The crimson pout was the focal point of the look, and Rowe ensured it wasn’t too done. “It needs to look sassy and sexy,” she insisted, applying the creamy scarlet pigment with a brush and blotting it as she went. “[The Burberry woman] is a bit cheeky and flirty this season,” Rowe continued, blending in the brand’s new-for-spring Fresh Glow Foundation, which she dotted with its forthcoming Illuminator.
“Natural and definitely not too glamorous” were the house codes that Neil Moodie abided by when it came to the hair, which he prepped with Bumble and Bumble Does It All Styling Spray and gave an off-kilter center part. Running a few sections through a curling iron to create movement through the lengths, Moodie finished things off with a touch of Bumble and Bumble Brilliantine on the ends of the hair for the appearance of a healthy, moisturized mane—wear and tear from almost two weeks of back-to-back shows not withstanding.
Gone was the Victoriana-goth girl that ruled the mood boards backstage at Erdem for Fall. In her place: “otherworldly creatures,” according to face painter Andrew Gallimore, who set to work sculpting a “much brighter, more luminous lady” for Spring.
“Sci-chedelic” is the neologism that was being bandied about between hair and makeup artists in reference to a certain sci-fi psychedelia that informed the beauty effort. “They’re supposed to be like an army of clones,” Gallimore explained, applying a base of MAC Mineralize Moisture Foundation and a touch of its Prep + Prime Finishing Powder. “It’s a bit Stepford Wife-y,” he continued, working its Strobe Cream into the nose bridge, cheeks, and the cupid’s bow of lips to create a futuristic luminosity. Curling the lashes and brushing brows upward, Gallimore slicked mouths with MAC Lipmix in Mid-Tone Nude before dabbing just the center with its Pigment in Neo-Orange to allow for a punchy pop of color.
“The whimsical, romantic Erdem girl has evolved into a tougher, more androgynous woman,” Charles Worthington artistic director Marc Trinder agreed, sculpting a clean, strong bun for the occasion. Coating strands with the brand’s new Salon Secrets Elixir, Trinder partially dried them so they retained a bit of a greasy, wet finish. Fashioning a deep side part, he proceeded to gather lengths into a low ponytail at the nape of the neck that resulted in a tight, twisted chignon. Worthington’s Front Row Mirror Dazzle Shine Spray and a fat blush brush swept away any lingering flyaways.
There were the direct Frankenstein mentions in Christopher Kane’s Spring collection (see the screenprinted T-shirt in look 30), and then there were the slightly more subtle nods toward Mary Shelley’s nineteenth-century creation. “This could almost be Frankenstein’s daughter,” makeup artist Lucia Pieroni explained of the harsh, black-rimmed eyes she set against an otherwise perfect complexion. “But a little more dainty.”
Prepping skin with a generous layer of NARS Optimal Brightening Concentrate, Pieroni spot-treated with its forthcoming Radiant Creamy Concealer. “There’s a subtle iridescence coming through,” she explained, clutching NARS’ Illuminators in Orgasm and Copacabana, which remained in Pieroni’s hand during her entire backstage tenure as she swiped the creamy, luminescent pigments onto models’ T-zones and high on their cheekbones. Following a dusting of NARS Light Reflecting Setting Powder that imparted a ghostly, almost spooky edge, the face painter made brows strong and straight with a once-over of its Eyeshadow Duo in Pandora. Then, on top of a sweep of NARS Eyeshadow in Pearl Beach, a shimmering sheer mauve, Pieroni etched its Eyeliner in Black Moon along the waterline, smudging it out onto the edges. “The prettiness is balanced by using black along the [lashes],” she explained, adding a touch of NARS Larger Than Life Long-Wear Eyeliner in Via Veneto for opacity and drawing its Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Belle de Jour, a warm nude, onto mouths to ensure the focus remained firmly on eyes.
Applying a thick layer of TIGI Session Series Wet Look Gel across the top of the head and pulling hair straight back into a long ponytail, Anthony Turner declared a similar intention to avoid the pretty and embrace the tough. “The Christopher Kane girl’s hair is not gentle or feminine anymore; she’s fighting against the ladylike collection and she’s a bit of a rebel,” he said. Removing flyaways with TIGI Curlesque Defining Serum and flat-ironing the lengths for a sublimely straight finish, we’d say his mission was sufficiently accomplished.