A day or two before a fashion show, there's a thing called a “test.” The designer, stylists, and hair and makeup artists gather—along with assistants and a few key models—to work out what exactly the beauty look will be day of. It's similar to the experience of being backstage, but calmer and a bit more creative. If the moments before a fashion show are exciting because of the freneticism of getting everyone ready, hair and makeup tests are exciting because just about anything is possible. Everything is still “work in progress.” but in the best sense of the phrase.
This season's Hood By Air tests were on a Saturday afternoon in a temporary, 5th floor studio in the Lower East Side. Stylist Akeem Smith, makeup artist Inge Grognard (MAC), and hairstylist Amy Farid (Bumble and bumble)—along with their respective teams—had only just begun to reconcile a shared photo stream full of inspiration. References included images of men in jail, jheri curls, sculpted sideburns, and acupuncture needles. Then there were the plastic baby dolls attached to harnesses and the fake teeth inserts decorated with padlocks and braces from the actual collection. A little something for everyone.
'We briefed late last night about having the stocking over the face and then redrawing the face over the nylon.” Grognard said. “I was still in Belgium, so there wasn't time to test it at home—plus I didn't have the stockings. You know, sometimes you work with a designer who has their concept set weeks in advance, and sometimes it's last minute like this.” Once she arrived, Inge and Michelle Clark, a MAC senior artist, began drawing, removing, and redrawing designs over the stretched stockings in various MAC eyeliners and eyebrow pencils (they ended up going with the MAC Eye Pencil in Coffee). Skin was barely touched. Say what you will for wearing hosiery over your face, but it does wonders for obscuring blemishes. Some faces got angular, drawn on sideburns while others got a simpler contouring around the jaw and definition in the eyebrows. Occasionally, the stocking was ripped so grills (grillz?) could be worn.
Hair was similarly involved. Each model got his or her own treatment, stemming from a very molded wet look using Bumble and bumble Gel. Some got finger waves, some got strands plastered to their faces...all very graphic to be seen from under the stocking.
Before running out to buy supplies (mainly Q-tips) at Muji before it closed “It's New York! You'd think things would stay open later') Inge said, “We really know what we have to do tomorrow—and we also know the difficulties, which is very good.” And sure enough, backstage at the show everything went seamlessly. Or as seamlessly as anything can go when you're juggling 32 models on a Sunday morning during New York Fashion Week.
Photographed by Tom Newton.