Backstage Beauty: Prabal Gurung 2012

What exactly does it mean to be “uncursed”? “Well, it’s not the opposite of being cursed—that’s what I gathered from Prabal (Gurung) when we talked,” lead hairstylist Paul Hanlon, who’s working with TIGI, divulges backstage at the designer’s fall show. The collection, as well as the beauty, is based on this idea of being “uncursed,” which Hanlon says is “like a dark innocence. The show begins with these ‘cursed’ girls wearing black with darker hair, and progresses to a lighter, more pure place—the girls here have lighter hair, almost white blonde.” So being "un-cursed" is the evolution of coming out of a curse?

No matter the high concept, the beauty is crisp and immaculate—the type beauty editors fawn over. The supporting hair, glossed, tight to the head and boasting a clean break over the ear, is what Hanlon is calling “more of an effect rather than a hairstyle.” He preps tresses near the front of the head with TIGI Catwalk Curl Collection Curlesque Strong Mousse to help him create more direction as he blow-dries strands. To craft a linear split in this sheet of high-gloss tresses (shine is derived from TIGI Catwalk Your Highness Weightless Shine Spray), he adds wefts near the front of the crown to better define the split. “Hair is less dense near the front,” he explains.

The glossy finish speaks to something beyond practical reach; Hanlon cites hair commercials where manes are whipped around under shine-inducing hair lights as the pinnacle of that lacquered ideal. “We wanted the shine and the style to be artificial in a way; Prabal wanted it almost too perfect,” Hanlon continues, adding, “I sort of view it like Sissy Spacek from Carrie: beautiful sharp lines, flat, narrow, very pure.” Sinister, perhaps? “I guess she was, wasn’t she?” he laughs. “But I think the style is pure.”

The “uncursed” color story continues in the nails, explains lead nail tech Jin Soon Choi, who's working with Sally Hansen. “This is hell to heaven,” she says of the four polish colors, starting at the depths with black Onyx and Blue Rose, and rising to the heavens with copper-gold Gilded Lily and white Ivory Skull (all available October 2012). Gurung collaborated with the nail company on the collection, and the colors are a straight match to the different color segments in his collection. “But, in the end, we are only doing three colors on the girls, starting the dark section of the show with Onyx, then going into Blue Rose, then ending the pure section with Gilded Lily,” she says, noting that Blue Rose, a gorgeous toned-down navy, flatters all skin tones, while Gilded Lily looks fabulous with a three-coat application.

For makeup, MAC lead makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury tells it straight: "This is all about good and evil, dark and light, but I'm feeling quite Avatar-ish, and that doesn’t really have anything to do with the inspiration,” she laughs. “This is really inspired by wild birds of paradise—the colors in their feathers.” Her graphic, “techno” take involves blending up and out a clutch of teal, green and brown cream shadows (part of the MAC Delft Crème Eye Shadow Fall Trend Palette, available this fall). “Everything on the eye is being done at diagonals,” she explains, as she brushes Blue Brown Pigment over her design near the inner eye and brow bone. To pop the design further, she concentrates Smoothblue Technakohl Eye Liner on the inner corner of the eye as well as the middle upper lid through the brow bone, casting a feather-like appearance, and sets it with Freshwater Eye Shadow. The rest of the face is kept minimal; “I’m just spot-checking skin, and then hitting all the right areas with Luna Cream Colour Base highlighter—the cupid’s bow, down the nose, along the tops of the of the cheeks,” Tilbury says. The design is brilliant and definitely more heavenly than hellish. —Karie L. Frost

(First image: Rabbani and Solimene Photography/Getty Images; last image: courtesy of MAC)

Other Backstage Beauty Articles: Erickson Beamon Alexander Wang Alice + OliviaJill Stuart Marc Jacobs   |   Lauren Moffatt  |   Rag + Bone  |   Peter Som Fall |  Katie Gallagher   |  Rachel Roy  |  Christian Siriano  |   Derek Lam and Diane Von Furstenberg   |  Richard Chai   |  Houghton   |  Tadashi Shoji

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