Fashion weeks have drastically changed in the last 14 months. Working as a journalist means I’ve seen the spectacle from all angles, most notably backstage. It’s always been my favourite point of view: one that’s chaotic and creative and a little bit overwhelming. But now it’s different. Shows are digitised and a lot of that magic – the chaos and the crowdedness – is a little bit lost. With Haute Couture week having just passed, I’ve been thinking about it all and the people involved. The industry keeps waiting for things to normalise, to come back bigger and better than ever. I’m waiting too, but I’m also worried the pandemic is chipping away a the creative grandeur of fashion weeks… the beauty element especially, given we’re masked up most of the time and an intricate hairstyles doesn’t feel quite as relevant on a screen as it is in the flesh.
Having seen these beauty looks backstage first hand (and the work that goes into them) has me hoping that we don’t lose the spectacle of it all. The glamour and the creative power. So here’s a little love letter to some of the bold and beautiful looks this couture week and the legends behind them… I hope they’re not the last.
Peter Philips, the Creative and Image Director at Christian Dior Makeup, has always been a favourite of mine. He is talented, kind, and has a nuanced approach to beauty that feels right for the times. His work at various Dior runway shows is always a perfect display of creative refinement, SS21 Haute Couture no different. This seasons look was minimal and classic – velvet skin and a touch of gold on the eye, all inspired by Maria Churi Grazia and her affection for all things superstitious. The makeup details are small but apparent, a nice complement to the grandeur of the clothes.
Another Peter Philips masterpiece, but this time of the slick, glossy, ethereal variety. Over at Fendi, models look like heavenly bodies, all lit-from-within skin and otherworldly shimmer. The hair was also incredible. The work of Sam McKnight (the man who used to tend to Princess Diana’s blonde crop) used ornate Venetian glass combs in no particular fashion for a look that was “models caught in a thunderstorm in the garden”.
Giambattista Valli is always spectacular, especially when it comes to hair that’s as high as the heavens. Odile Gilbert created a look that was beyond comprehension: a full, fluffy half up-do adorned with delicate flowers and doll-sized bows. The bigger the bouffant, the closer to God…
Valentino embodies all that’s great about couture beauty. Artifice, audacity, and all thing over the top. Similar to seasons past, Dame Pat McGrath painted a few faces in full, opaque gold glitter. Other models just had a smattering on the temple, or across the cheek bones- still editorial but tame in comparison. Hair was by the also imitable Guido Palau – a celebration of unique style and texture. Overall, it was spectacular; a magic display of creativity and couture.