When we got backstage at Kenzo yesterday, there were two pleasant surprises waiting for us. The first was Peter Philips; if Humberto Leon and Carol Lim’s collection was half as good as their decision to enlist the Chanel creative director of makeup for their first outing for the storied brand, then they’d have a big success on their hands, we thought to ourselves. “They were open to suggestions,” Philips said of the design duo’s beauty concept for the show. ”That’s the way they work—it’s a team effort, more like a creative studio.” The group decision was to make sure the makeup didn’t look like it was for a fashion show. “I didn’t want all the girls to have a red lip or a black nail like a funny, quirky Teen Vogue shoot—and I mean that with the utmost respect. We just wanted to bring a maturity and credibility to it,” Philips explained, choosing instead to keep the face “strong but natural” so as not to complicate the colors and prints in the clothes. After creating a flawless base with Chanel Perfection Lumiere Professional Finish Makeup, Philips focused on building a big brow—”it’s not graphic or fifties,” he insisted, dipping into Chanel Ombre Essentielle Soft Touch Eyeshadow in Mahogany 51 and filling in arches with soft powder rather than a pencil. “They’re more like a young girl in the eighties would have,” he clarified, using the same pigment at the root of lashes for definition. Lips were kept muted, courtesy of Chanel Le Crayon Levres in Desert 28 and its beige-brown Rouge Allure lipstick in Curious—which we watched one of Philips’ assistants carefully apply on a center-parted brunette to our left. After a quick double take, we realized it was Chloë Sevigny.
“I’m working on a show in Manchester, England,” the Opening Ceremony designer and muse explained of her transformation from sunny blond to deep chestnut strands, which hairstylist Andrew Turner prepped with Tigi Catwalk Curlesque Curl Collection Strong Mousse, wove into a low braid, and slightly picked apart to add texture and movement. ”I used to do pink, purple, blue, peroxide—but I’ve never been dark,” Sevigny, who plays a “pre-op tranny” in Sky Atlantic’s forthcoming miniseries Hit and Miss, said of her trials and tribulations with hair dye. ”They really wanted me to disappear into the role,” she explained, which by all accounts seems to have worked, as Sevigny is barely recognizable without her flaxen locks—and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “I don’t get cat-called as much,” the Big Love star joked of being a brunette versus a blonde.
As the build up to Kanye West’s premiere womenswear collection finally came to a head last night in Paris, the question of whether or not the rapper-turned-designer could deliver was answered—as were our burning questions of whether his unquestionable savvy for style would translate in beauty terms. “He knows what he wants,” makeup artist Val Garland said of West’s aptitude for shadows and shading after having a powwow with him to come up with a look for his first show. “He also knows what he doesn’t want—nothing too conceptual,” West told Garland. “He wants a woman to look like a woman”—which is why they decided on “Victoria’s Secret sexy.” This meant a dewy, warm complexion courtesy of MAC Sculpt Foundation that was buffed into heavily hydrated skin before receiving a slight contour by way of MAC Mineralize Skin Finish powder, which was dotted with its Cream Colour Base in Shell along cheekbones for highlight. As has been the preference of many a designer this season—both established and newcomer—West wanted a fifties cat-eye, which Garland obliged using MAC Cream Eyeliner in Black, diffused onto the lid and then reapplied in a thick line with a flick on the end using a small, angled brush. Lashes were given a bombshell-caliber boost with its Pro Lash Mascara and a few individual falsies placed in the outer corners, all while big-name models like Karlie Kloss, Anja Rubik, and Abbey Lee Kershaw enjoyed some radio jams from Beyoncé—the hip-hop world’s other high-profile friend of fashion.
Hairstylist Laurent Philippon was also going for sexy—but a specifically equine form of it. “I don’t know if I can even show you what [Kanye] showed me for inspiration,” Philippon said mischievously, producing a colored photograph of wild horses with texturized manes out to pasture. Coating hair with Bumble and Bumble Does It All Hairspray, which truly “does it all,” Kershaw joked from Philippon’s chair, the coiffing star braided the entire head into one-inch sections, hot-ironing the plaits and teasing the shaft to create additional texture as he went, before undoing each one and brushing through. Carving out deep side parts, Philippon finger-combed front sections forward and over models’ right eyes before they hit the runway.
As certain beauty trends continue to turn up for Spring—wet hair, bright lips, and monochrome makeup among them—there’s one seasonal muse that just won’t quit. “It’s fifties-inspired,” Guido Palau said, giving yet another nod to the mid-twentieth century backstage at Jean Paul Gaultier with “dressed” hair that was prepped with Redken 10 Guts Volume Spray Foam and divided into three sections. Center-parting two front panels, Palau rolled hair over foam cushions to create density before sweeping remaining hair into a high, tight chignon. “It’s very saucy,” he continued of the look—and it had to be, considering Gaultier’s shout-out to postwar fetishism.
“It’s also very Jean Paul,” makeup artist Stéphane Marais added, discussing the designer’s decision to have a few “real” girls among his models, inspiring the bevy of temporary tattoos and piercings that he sent down the runway. “They’re meant to be extensions of the fabric,” Marais said of about five different inked designs that were applied to arms, necks, and décolletage—”wherever there is skin, but not on the face. The face is for me.” Starting with a clean complexion, Marais built off his handiwork at Gaultier’s Couture show a few months ago. “It’s a little girl who wants to look made up and is obsessed with a really red, glossy lip.” Channeling Guy Bourdin images and a certain “Saint Laurent sophistication,” Marais applied a precise coat of the bright crimson pigment from MAC Pro’s dual-ended Longwear Lipcolor in Lasting Lust before swinging it around and dipping into its high-shine clear gloss. Filled-in brows and false lashes finished the look. (Pro tip: For increased ease of application, Marais recommends waiting at least 30 seconds after applying glue before adhering lash strips to lids.)
But wait—there’s more! Manicurist Isabelle Pain enhanced the retro S&M vibe by hand-piercing acrylic nails that had been painted with two coats of Debby Lacquer in ColorPlay #25, a bright red. She used a truly archaic-looking piercing gun to get small, silver ball rings onto two to three of each girl’s fingertips. A small safety warning: Do not attempt on natural nails unless you have at least a half-inch of length to work with.
Stick-on makeup cutouts like the kind we’ve spied at Gareth Pugh and Fendi may seem like a newfangled trick to beauty novices, but Pat McGrath’s unimpressed. “We’ve been doing it for 15 years,” she said backstage at Viktor & Rolf, where she broke out bits of high-shine pink paper that had been traced and snipped into the shape of winged-out eye liner. “It’s something we came up with as a way to get an eye liner on quickly,” for, say, another sweltering backstage show in Paris where slaving over a precise pigment application is nearly impossible. To coincide with the designers’ “doll” theme for Spring, McGrath thought about what kind of makeup a modern Barbie would wear and decided it definitely wouldn’t be that sixties-era blue eye shadow-and-cat eye prototype. “It would be some kind of crazy angles or crazy color. The modern woman likes extremes,” according to McGrath, who was applying the paper pieces with glue over a brown smudged-out lid and adding both pink and black rows of false lashes for impact. Rosy, hot pink cheeks and a fluoro pink lip finished off the radical message to Mattel.
Hairstylist Luigi Murenu added to the modernization effort by bringing the “graphicity,” as he called it, with heavy, thick manes of pushed-back hair. “It’s dry, Victorian texture with an architectural touch,” Murenu said, coating strands with John Frieda Luxurious Volume Thickening Mousse, applying heat, imparting an “invisible crimp,” and brushing through for fullness.
If you were even remotely into last season’s move toward masculine beauty—sculpted skin, quiffs, et al—then the hair and makeup look at Haider Ackermann this morning definitely struck a chord. “It’s very intense,” makeup artist Stephane Marais said of the greasy brown “present” eyes and contrasting facial contours he designed for the occasion. Referencing poetry—”but disturbed poets, and mostly men, like Lord Byron”—Marais lined lids with MAC Eye Pencil in Coffee just along the water line to thicken lashes before layering chocolate and lavender shades of MAC Eye Shadow in Mulch, Concrete, and Shale through the crease, topping them with MAC Pro Mixing Medium Shine so the pigments appeared wet and glistening. Forgoing mascara, Marais blended a similarly toasted shade of MAC Cream Colour Base underneath cheekbones for definition before finally settling on the precisely right descriptor for the end result. “Possessed. That’s the word.”
While we happen to love a slick, smoldering, demonic eye, it was the hair that won us over. Prepping strands with Wella Create Character Spray Texturizer, Eugene Souleiman assigned himself the task of fashioning a faux fade—the second attempt we’ve seen at the gradually shaved on the side, long on the top style in two days—constructing a tight twisted chignon that wasn’t tucked in all the way at the top. Instead, mid-lengths and ends were left out, straight-ironed, and sprayed with Wella Stay Styled hair spray before being pinned down randomly to create spiky definition. It was an opportunity for the girls with typically long locks to live out that fantasy of going really short—which can be a particularly liberating experience, according to Catherine McNeil. “I did it in December and just got it trimmed,” McNeil said of recently making the cut with the chin-grazing crop she’s been sporting in Europe. “I’ve had the same hair forever,” she said. “It’s so much easier now.”