Backstage Beauty: DKNY Fall 2014

While the feeling backstage at DKNY seems like backstage-as-usual—helter-skelter with stylists, models and press scurrying about, in actuality it’s anything but usual. With a cast of 55 catwalkers, comprised of both professional models and regular people plucked off the street (think: students, club kids, entrepreneurs, musicians and artists), it’s nearly impossible to distinguish who’s who. And to top that, the beauty designs are tailored to bring out the individuality of each person taking to the runway, so there is no singular beauty look. “It’s like a New York mash-up,” shares Wella Professionals Global Creative Director Eugene Souleiman. “It’s really about the city, the diversity of its people and the diversity of the cultures in the city. It’s really about being in the mix, the melting pot. And that’s what New York is.”  

  Souleiman and his team work with each person to discover what type of hair design suits her personality and who she is. “This [feels] like a salon, not like a backstage fashion show. The individual sits in your chair, you discuss the look, you look at them and you work it out together, and you do something major. That’s it,” he says. While there’s no distinct cohesion with the hair designs, one thing that can be seen on a multitude of models is color. Think: pewter, acid yellow, pastel pink, washed-out blue and white. Some catwalkers come in with their own color and some are dyed by the Wella team, but with so much diversity, there’s no specific products on the docket for the day as the idea is anything goes. “It’s freeing and I think that’s what’s really great about it. It’s like we can just forget the rules for today,” Souleiman laughs. “Isn’t it great? It’s like a little holiday — a hair holiday!”

Maybelline lead makeup artist Yadim is also given carte blanche for the makeup looks. “It really is the idea of going away from this kind of cloned, replicate mentality of shows and going back to individuality,” he explains. “So I created a basic beauty look to get everyone to a certain polished level, and from there I’m really trusting my team to communicate with whomever is sitting in their chair to really get an idea from them of who they are as a person.” To create the base look — glowing, sexy, hydrated, beautiful skin — Yadim first applies a mixture of Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream and moisturizer to the models’ faces. He next uses Maybelline Eye Studio Color Tattoo Metal in Barely Branded to highlight the chin, Cupid’s bow, bridge of the nose and cheekbones. After that, it’s up to the individual to relay to their stylist what makeup look they usually rock, whether it’s a smoky eye, bold lip or extreme lashes. “Whatever their trademark is, we’re going to create that for them today. We want them to feel good and confident in what they’re wearing. It’s what made me fall in love with makeup [in the first place] - the whole idea of expressing yourself and individual identity,” he shares. The only limitation for the day is loud colors, besides red. “The collection is quite black-and-white, it’s quite graphic, and we want the makeup to complement it rather than compete with it. And it should feel like the [models] would hang out together, like they would all be at the same party together. It should feel like they’re part of the same tribe — the DKNY tribe!”

Nails are the only beauty department with a little bit of cohesion in that there are only three looks the models will sport. In the first design, “Moon Shadow,” essie lead manicurist Michelle Saunders paints one coat of essie "Blanc" (the moon) and tops it with one coat of essie "Smokin’ Hot" (the shadow), leaving a thin white arc at the base of the nail. She finishes with a coat of essie "Allure," which creates a cement-like color replicating that of city sidewalks, and a coat of essie "Matte About You." For “chalky nails,” Saunders paints two coats of essie "Blanc" and tops with one coat of essie "Matte About You." Saunders refers to the last nail as a “nothing nail,” which is essie "Mademoiselle" topped with essie "Matte About You." “I based [the designs] on the colors and patterns [in the collection], and it’s based on the woman or girl who’s going to wear that collection,” shares Saunders. “They’re the cool kids; they’ve got cool nails! They’re downtown chic. They’re individual. It’s today, it’s current, it’s modern and it’s hip. It’s like you kind of want to be them!” Indeed.

— Molly Church

[Photos courtesy of Wella and essie]

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