Not to be unexpected, but my chats with hair pro Paul Hanlon and face painter Hannah Murray at Helmut Lang were rife with references to the nineties—from Peter Lindbergh's images of the era's supermodels to one of the label's original muses, Kirsten Owen. However, instead of grungy and destroyed, both artists approached the decade with a bit more polish and sophistication.
To juxtapose the slouchy silhouettes in the collection, Hanlon kept the hair less "street" and more groomed. "We were worried that if the hair was too natural, it would look wishy-washy and drab," he explained. After prepping strands with Unite 7Seconds Condition Leave In Detangler and Session Whip (a weightless sculpting foam) for shine and girth, he blew the hair smooth and straight with a round bristle brush and touched up the ends with a flat iron. Next, Hanlon added a clean side part and liberally sprayed the top, section by section, with Max Control Spray Strong Hold. Once the hair was tucked neatly behind the model's ears, he hit it again with some heat to lock everything into place. Then, a low tail was secured with an elastic and hidden underneath a custom black Helmut Lang cover (a strip of Velcro was affixed inside to give it grip). "Rather than putting the ponytail in tight, we kept it loose to provide an element of ease and reality…with this type of style and that accessory, the hair can look a little too S&M-y," he said.
As for the makeup, Murray's ode to the inspiration was obviously the brown-red mouth—a blend of two NARS Satin Lip Pencils in Golshan and Het Loo. "I'm using a lip brush to apply, and diffusing [the pigment] around the edges with a domed blending brush that's normally reserved for the eyes to get intense color that doesn't look too done," she said. The rest of the face was left "raw," only applying concealer—no base—where needed. To achieve a ruddy flush, Murray warmed up the same Golshan pencil used on the lips on the back of her hand and pressed it onto the lower half of the cheeks with her fingertips. Triple X Lip Gloss was tapped on the centers of the eyelids and the excess applied to the tops of the cheekbones to catch the light (although Murray disclosed that Egyptian Magic All-Purpose Skin Cream can be used for the same effect). The brows were left bare, aside from a clear setting gel, and lashes remained mascara-less. Looks like minimalism is back with quite a beautiful vengeance.