Backstage at Derek Lam, makeup artist Tom Pecheux was looking west—to California specifically, with its sun-kissed hills and the outstanding homes that dot them. “We talked about Richard Neutra,” Pecheux said. “It was the beginning of that time in architecture when they let the outdoors come in with big windows. That’s what I wanted to translate into the makeup.” As such, Pecheux brushed on a “strong, architectural brow,” with Estée Lauder Cyber Eyes Eyeshadow in Cyber Green and Cyber Copper, which he dusted beneath the brow bone and up through individual hairs, pointing out that powders create a softer look than pencils. Underneath was a wash of sheer canary yellow eye shadow in Rainboots, from a forthcoming five-pan palette. “That comes from the California sun,” Pecheux said of the color, adding a thin black line of pigment along the upper lash line with Lauder’s Intense Kajal Eyeliner in Blackened Olive. Skin was sculpted and bronzed with its new-for-Spring limited-edition Gelée Bronzer, while lips were given a high shine courtesy of a new Pure Color Lipgloss in Citron Kiss, a sheer yellow. “It takes away the pink,” Pecheux said, adding that it can also brighten up any darker, fall lipstick.
Coiffing star Orlando Pita was also drawn to Neutra’s “clean, crisp” lines, which inspired his sleek ponytails. Prepping hair with Phytovolume Actif Spray, Pita created deep side parts and blow-dried with his trusty T3 Featherweight blow-dryer before applying Phyto 7 Daily Hydrating Botanical Cream on the ends to smooth out any jagged tips. Then, gathering hair into a high ponytail, he flat-ironed the lengths, coating them in Phyto Shine Defining Wax for intentional severity. The sheen came from a spritz of Phyto Professional Workable Holding Spray—”I didn’t want to do a gelled wet look,” Pita said. “Who wants to wear their hair like that?”
We had only been backstage at the New York Public Library for a few minutes before the season’s early beauty buzzwords were verbalized. “She’s sporty, handsome, and confident,” makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury said of the “chromatic palette with an element of androgyny” that she was using to create the Victoria Beckham woman for Spring. The color scheme came by way of a dewy application of Lancôme Teint Miracle foundation for a flawless base, which Tilbury topped with its Star Bronzer, a matte golden powder, for contour. Dotting Lancôme’s Écat Miracle golden illuminator on top of cheekbones to highlight, Tilbury added a swipe of its Liner Design in Star Bronze along lids, mixing the gilded gel liner with moisturizer to complete her honey-hued homage. As for the androgyny bit, that was the result of a strong, slightly arched brow that Tilbury drew on using Lancôme’s Le Crayon Poudre brow pencil and a dab of its Juicy Tubes in Pure, a clear gloss, which she patted onto lids to make them look wet.
Wet, that other oft-overheard backstage edict, was also on Redken creative consultant Guido Palau’s agenda. “It’s girly but sophisticated,” Palau said of the “Catherine Deneuve, classic schoolgirl,” half-up/half-down he sculpted, prepping hair with Redken’s Hardwear 16 Super Strong Gel and its Glass 01 Smoothing Serum. Brushing strands back and securing them in a top section with a long, silver Goody barrette, Palau scrunched the back section with Redken Guts 10 for texture that was “a little punk-y.” When asked his thoughts on why the hairstyling establishment has shown an early preference for damp hair, Palau didn’t reference the unpredictable and inclement New York weather. “Sometimes,” he said, “shine just feels right.”
It seems as if beauty’s tendency to go both ways for Fall is still trending for Spring, with the words “androgyny,” “handsome,” and “boyish” making more than a few cameos. At Altuzarra, hairstylist Paul Hanlon put a name on the increasingly popular look: “It’s like nineties David Sims,” he said of the general vibe that’s been dictating “strong and masculine” coiffing techniques in New York, including the deep side part he fashioned with blunt, razor-cut extensions prepped at the roots with Frédéric Fekkai Advanced Full Blown Volume Styling Whip. Spritzing on its Advanced Brilliant Glossing Sheer Mist for shine, Hanlon pulled a front section of hair forward and over each model’s left eye and coated it with Fekkai Coiff Magnifique Ultra-Light Finishing Cream for structure and hold. “It’s important to Joseph that when the girls walk, nothing moves.”
Makeup artist Tom Pecheux channeled Elizabeth Taylor. “Brows are the hanger of the eye,” he remarked, recalling Taylor’s epic arches and replicating them on models like Altuzarra muse Vanessa Traina. But in an interesting twist, the Altuzarra woman wasn’t Liz on the red carpet. “It’s Elizabeth Taylor at the gym,” Pecheux clarified, explaining the lived-in feel of the brow, which he dusted on using MAC Eyeshadow in Feline and Carbon-no pencils or waxes here. “You have to use something powdery, because the hair is over the eye. This way it won’t smudge.”
“You already know the parameters,” Redken creative consultant Guido Palau said backstage at Alexander Wang, referring to the quintessential Alexander Wang girl. “She’s ‘downtown’ or she’s done her hair herself,” he elaborated, highlighting the beauty elements that remain a constant in the Wang archetype. For Spring, Palau added a new “devil-may-care attitude” to the equation in the form of a wet look—make that soaking wet. Saturated strands are becoming an early beauty trend here in New York, turning up at BCBG, Prabal Gurung, Helmut Lang, and just this morning at Victoria Beckham (more on that in a bit). And so it went at Wang, where the sporty inspirations of choice were car racing and motocross. Prepping hair with Redken’s Full Frame 07 All-Over Volumizing Mousse, Palau coated locks from roots to ends before creating a messy center part and rough-drying. Redken’s new All Soft Argan-6 Multi-Care Oil imparted a high-shine aftereffect.
Makeup artist Diane Kendal also took a page out of the Wang beauty book, in which clean skin, greasy eyes, and strong brows are always part of the plotline. “Urban nineties” is how Kendal described the well-moisturized skin she accessorized with MAC’s Eye Kohl in Smolder. As a final touch, Kendal applied MAC Gloss Texture to the center of lids to bring a sense of the dewy and damp to models’ complexions.
There was one totally new beauty element on display yesterday, though, in the form of Alexander Wang’s three-piece nail selection for Sally Hansen. Available in April, the varnishes include Oxblood, a dark bordeaux; Petrol, a steely blue; and Parchment, a sheer cream that was lacquered onto tips for a polished but barely-there finish.
If you’re unfamiliar with Japanese artist Nobuyoshi Araki’s work, the retina-burning ombré pink lips at Prabal Gurung were likely a bit of a jarring site. But put in the context of the photographer’s vivid images of exotic blooms, the mouths made perfect sense. “It’s like there is an intoxicating flower coming out of her mouth,” makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury said of the different shades of MAC Lipmix she applied in gradation from deep purple to magenta to fuchsia. “Its a play on darkness and light.” Pouts were kept matte to contrast with dewy, highlighted skin and purposely overdrawn at the corners “as though she’s been snogging,” said Tilbury, pointing out that the key to coloring outside the lines is to use a soft, melted pencil without a sharp tip so you “keep from looking like a drag queen.” To further acheive that delicate balance between looking “sensual, but strong and powerful” at the same time, Tilbury swept an elongated stroke of silver gray cream eye shadow across the crease of models’ lids.
Coiffing star Didier Malige was happy to hone in on the strong and powerful end of that dichotomy, slicking back hair into a middle-parted wet look. “The [Prabal Gurung] woman is super confident. She has nothing to hide,” Malige said, prepping strands with Frederic Fekkai Coiff Extra Control Styling Gel and finger-combing it backward before adding a generous helping of its Brilliant Glossing Sheer Shine mist for added glisten. To set the sleek look, Malige spritzed on Fekkai’s Coiff Sheer Hold Hairspray.
The piece de resistance came by way of Jin Soon Choi’s tasteful touch of nail art. Starting with a base coat of Sally Hansen’s Lacy Lilac lacquer, Choi added a centralized stroke of its Loves Me Not, a shimmering aubergine that’s part of Gurung’s latest polish collection for the nail giant (the three piece range hits stores in April). “I’m calling it a slim silhouette–not a reverse French manicure,” Choi clarified. “I hate that!”