This past Sunday, around 8pm, was James Kaliardos' third makeup test for the Rodarte show, using Nars. Sometimes designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy hold just two tests (a brief intro for the uninitiated here), but this season James is finalizing the intricacies of a look that hinges on a thin border of Swarovski crystals on the lower lash line for a third time.
'What I like about Kate and Laura is that they’re not afraid of makeup,” said James, who has been doing the makeup at the Rodarte shows for longer than he can remember. “Each season we explore how to do natural that has something— some sort of focal point. We did the ring eyebrows last season, which was a big hit, and I think that looked really great because the girls looked really beautiful underneath it—we didn’t go punky-psycho-weirdo underneath it,”
The look James is currently developing is similarly special but balanced, sort of like eye jewelry. “The crystals are on the bottom, and we’re doing them straight, which is a new way of emphasizing the bottom of the lash,” he said. “Usually all we have is lashes, but this gives you that heavy bottom, which is quite attractive,”
Beyond quickly gluing the crystals by hand “Girls run in and who knows what they’re going to have on their hair or face. Can we get that off and get on the new look in time so that the whole audience isn’t waiting just because of crystals,”), the face is fairly straightforward with an interesting mix of warm and cool neutrals.
He's using the Dual-Intensity Blushes [ed note: available in March 2015] dry: “They look like plastic, they're so beautiful—like how is this makeup? They go on really sheer dry, and you can wet them also,” The left side of the Dual-Intensity Blush in Fervor was used on the cheeks with the new Tribulation blush [ed note: new for Fall 2015], a light gold, being used to contour. “It reflects dark and light, giving you tone, which shapes the cheek in a super-subtle way,” James said. A new lip gloss for Fall 2015 called Chelsea Girls paired with concealer gives the lips their pink-nude color. “I’m going to put it on and let them eat it off a bit so it’s not as glossy, but it’s such a perfect color—Laura really loved it,” James said. “We’re also using the Dual-Intensity Blush again in Craving, but the right side. We’re putting that on the eye,” he said. “A lot of Nars products you can use in more ways than one. It’s like how all my girlfriends do their makeup. They take something and sort of rub it all over, which I think is really smart,” He finished the eye look off with the new Nars Audacious Mascara [ed note: available Fall 2015].
But unlike a lot of designers these days, Rodarte hasn't sacrificed product for the sake of clean-looking skin: “[Kate and Laura] like foundation—most designers are like ‘No foundation, no foundation!’ but you can’t get a beautiful, smooth-looking face without foundation,” James said. “I start with Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer, because once you see what you have to fix, then you don’t need as much foundation,” he said. Next, he applied Nars All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation with a light hand. “I think foundation is great but a lot of people wear too much of it. Often I’ll use a brush that has moisturizer on it, so it’s less thick,” he said.
As for the hair, “It's the kind of hair everyone wants,” he said. Odile Gilbert is creating an undone, wavy look. She's not brushing the hair, but instead scrunching it with her hands and then using a curling iron to add a bend to pieces here and there. Then, “I spray it all over with the Beach Blonde Sea Waves Sea Salt Spray, dry with a diffuser, and spray with the John Frieda Frizz Ease Keraflex Flexible Hold Hairspray,” Odile said. “It takes a lot of work to look natural,” Another thing that takes more work than you'd expect: finding the perfect sheer nail color. Working with Sally Hansen, Rodarte developed several translucent new colors, to be available this Fall. The finalized look was created by Sally Hansen Color Ambassador Tracylee with shades Beige Glass and Rose Glass.
But the thing that will be every journalist's nightmare when reviewing the show vis-à-vis the beauty look is what James casually said about reference point: “There wasn’t really an inspiration...We’re really in sync with each other, which is very, very rare. Sometimes they’ll have more specific things they’re thinking about. I remember one season they sent me pictures of a house that was exposed from the inside-out from all the fiberglass and all the steel—all that stuff that made the house. That was like my starting point. It’s not necessarily a picture from Italian Vogue of some ‘60s actress—it could be anything. One season I had had a dream, and I woke up and was like, ‘Oh I really see these eyeballs floating, kind of like Jean Cocteau surrealism on the eyes,’ and they had sent me something with eyeliner, so we mixed the looks, like ‘We’ll try it,’ and that was the look that season,” he said. “We experiment a lot,”
Photographed by Tom Newton. For more New York Fashion Week Coverage look to ITG's Backstage Slideshow for F/W 2015.