Several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Sally Singer to hear about her beauty routine and favorite products. She's the definition of all-natural—especially among the legions of women whose "no-makeup look" still includes a swipe of mascara and some concealer. That being said, Sally's eyes light up where her nails are concerned. Ms. Singer's elaborately manicured hands are her trademark; the result of thoughtful collaborations with the nail artist Maki, of Valley NYC. Last time I saw Sally, she began forming the idea for her "European Collections" nail look, much like an editor preparing her wardrobe. When we finally met up in Paris, she displayed oval, eggshell finish nails with minute 3D roses blooming from a few tips only, as if carved from stone. Here, she shares her thoughts on how beauty will be treated at T magazine, and its role in the fashion industry at large.
“T has been quite quiet about beauty. It hasn’t seen beauty as as vital a project as maybe I would hope; I would hope to do more. They certainly have done the experiential pieces, they’ve done the shopping pieces, they’ve done the text driven pieces, but I’ve always felt, and I always felt this at Vogue too, that beauty choices and changes are often the least expensive and most rewarding things you can do in a season. That’s where the drama comes from—you can wear the same clothes but change your hair or the color of your lipstick and that makes all the difference in the world. I know that even my obsession with Japanese manicures changed the way I thought about my hands, and changed the way I thought about myself when I started doing it. In a way that was better than any pair of shoes, better than any handbag, and cheaper! You can get hundreds of these manicures and it won’t come up to the cost of a Celine bag. I think beauty should be foregrounded in a way that it’s just not in fashion magazines. So in that sense I think it will play more of a role. I think there’s a way to show directional hair and makeup, and often i-D does this very well, Edward Enninful’s shoots with Emma Summerton—they’ll have a really strong lip or really amazing hair and it looks normal. It doesn’t look freaky, it doesn’t look only editorial; the girl looks pretty and cool and like herself. I think because it often has that sense of a gesture, ‘we just added this,’ which is what a teenage girl does. And at the end of the day the greatest beauty freaks are the teenage girls, because they’re just playing. It’s not about looking young yet, it’s just about looking different and exciting. I do think about that going forward. But it also depends on where beauty goes in terms of fashion. Beauty itself has been in this kind of strange place, because on the skincare side it got very technical and very medical, very scientific. And in terms of how it worked with clothes it got very anonymous. You’d come back from every collection and go ‘oh, there was a red lip,’ ‘well, there was a ponytail,’ ‘hair’s gotten a little darker,’ ‘oh now it’s gotten a little lighter.’ The clothes are very interesting and the beauty is just to highlight the clothes. I think that can shift a lot but a lot of that will shift if beauty on the street gets more interesting. There hasn’t been a trending up from the street for beauty in a while. If all the girls on the street were getting skunk stripes and it looked really good, then the models would go into castings with skunk stripes and then you’d start to see skunk stripes on the runway. I don’t think there’s been a really incredible teen-centric or youth-culture-centric beauty moment in while, probably because there hasn’t been an icon from the street to push that forward. And someone like Lady Gaga, when she came out, it wasn’t pitched kind of ‘girly’ enough to have everyone want it. Minx is one thing; the patterned nail from Minx kind of hit big and had some resonance, but it’s harder to work that into fashion. But hair gestures and makeup gestures—I love Carey Mulligan’s hair—I love a strong haircut, particularly on young woman. But it’s a hard thing to find the right icon that can make girls think ‘yeah, we can all be Jean Seberg; it’s good.’ You need something to really hit that will shift fashion. Think of 1960’s faces: if all the girls are wearing super big eyelashes and super crazy eye makeup, it will go into the way of fashion editorial and then it will cycle around. I would like beauty to play a stronger role in a very direct, explicit way, in how we present ourselves. I’m not so interested in how it just makes people look normal.”
—as told to ITG