Behind The Makeup: Cinderella

 We are swooning about the upcoming Cinderella movie after having watched the utterly epic trailer quite a few times. Lily James (best known as Lady Rose on Downton Abbey) looks absolutely dreamy as the curfew-breaking, shoe-fetishist heroine in the live-action update of everyone’s favorite childhood fairy tale. (Never mind that James’ red carpet game leading up to the March 13 release makes us want to cry with joy. It’s all just so good.) The film looks absolutely magical — from the mind-blowing backdrops to the fantastical dresses. But, we're here to focus on the sublime hair and makeup. 

Makeup designer Naomi Donne (who’s working on the new Bond movie right now, by the way) and hair pro Carol Hemming worked with Oscar-winning costume designer Sandy Powell for a thoughtful and retro-influenced refresh on the celebrated Cinderella concept. The trio reimagined Old Hollywood’s vision of the Victorian era, the way 1939’s Gone with the Wind interpreted the look of the Civil War-era South. “They would keep that glamorous 1940s makeup going even though [the actresses] have got [Victorian] ringlets and crinolines on,” Donne told us. “We also wanted to reflect the feeling of the original animated Cinderella film.”

Think Vivien Leigh or Bette Davis plopped into Grimms' Fairy Tales, but with a luxe, 21st-century update (HD-brilliant body glitter and Swarovski crystals everywhere). Donne and Hemming were more than happy to walk us through it all.      
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Photo: Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.
Cinderella’s Natural Face
Even though Cinderella goes from kitchen girl to royal-ball scene stealer (and back again), her makeup look stays quite consistent throughout the film. Because the catty stepsisters — Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) and Drizella (James’ Downton Abbey co-star Sophie McShera) — and the climactic gala scene are so eye-poppingly bright and colorful, a fresh and natural look makes Cinderella stand out from the crowd.

Donne barely used any makeup on a naturally flawless James — just Giorgio Armani’s Maestro Fusion foundation as a base and quick touch-ups with Chantecaille loose powder. For that rosy, fresh-from-a-ride-through-the-woods glow, Donne brushed MAC powder blush in Fleur Power on the cheekbones and only used balm, no color, on the lips.
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Photo: Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.
But, for the ball, Donne got really creative. Instead of applying, say, lipstick on the actress, the inventive makeup artist wet a Moroccan terracotta pot to create a deep-rose liquid stain, which she pressed on James’ lips with her finger. “It looked like her lips were slightly stained for heightened color; pouty with desire,” Donne said, laughing. “You know how people get flushed with desire, and their lips get pink when they fall in love? That’s the look I wanted to give.”

The sparkle you see on James’ shoulders and décolletage isn’t CGI magic, mind you. It’s the mesmerizing concoction of MAC’s Strobe Cream and fine, silvery glitter in Reflects Pearl “mushed up” together. Donne then strategically placed a smattering of Swarovski crystals all over James’ chest. “I wanted her skin to be luminous, as if it lit up from inside, and I didn’t want it to be a glittery, cheesy, princess thing,” she said.

Speaking of princesses, Hemming played fairy godmother by working the Swarovski sparkle into Cinderella’s ball hairstyle. The hair guru was inspired by a Gone with the Wind test photo of Vivien Leigh wearing half up, half down curls. Her team made a tiara-like, braided faux-hair piece artfully sprinkled with Swarovski crystals, and then placed more bling in James’ tumbling waves. Hemming made sure the precious gems stayed put — but didn’t damage the actress’ hair — with gentle eyelash glue. Her team had to take further precautions by placing a sheet under James’ makeup chair to catch any wayward Swarovskis. “We wouldn’t waste them,” she said, laughing. “We were very mindful of how precious they are. I can’t tell you how many we used or how many we managed to recycle, but we recycled as many as we could.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.
The Wicked Stepmother’s Terrifyingly Perfect Beauty
Oscar winner Cate Blanchett will absolutely kill it as the Wicked Stepmother of our childhood nightmares (but fashion dreams), Lady Tremaine. For the villainess’ stunning look, Blanchett’s makeup artist Morag Ross was inspired by the leading ladies of '40s noir: Lauren Bacall, Rita Hayworth, Barbara Stanwyck, and Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard. But, with “a slightly more modern approach to a period makeup look,” Ross wrote in an email. The first step in creating Blanchett’s frighteningly flawless screen-siren face: an SK-II brightening face mask.

Even as she’s overseeing Cinderella’s housekeeping duties (and basically keeping her lovelorn stepdaughter in captivity), Lady Tremaine never makes an appearance without immaculately applied red lips. “The fabulous lips were my favourite colour reminiscent of the '40s: MAC Russian Red,” the British makeup artist explained. But, to wear a shade that matte and bold all the time, proper moisturizing is in order: Ross kept Blanchett’s lips soft and hydrated with Kanebo Sensai lip conditioner.
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Photo: Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.
The Stepsisters' Over-The-Top Makeup
With their flashy gowns, technicolor makeup, and glorious curls, these girls are loads of wicked fun. “We felt we shouldn’t call them evil,” Hemming said, “but, yes, they were snippy for sure.”

We can accuse them of committing matchy-matchiness, because their makeup is always coordinated with their vibrantly hued outfits. “They had some outrageous costumes,” said Donne. To complement Anastasia’s hot-pink gown, a highly pigmented MAC Lipmix in Fuchsia and bubblegum nails in St. Germain were in order. Drizilla’s neon-orange dress was accented with an electrifying citrus-y Lipmix in Orange and nails in bold Morange. You may also notice that their drawn-on, Marilyn Monroe-esque moles aren’t always in the same spots from scene to scene. That’s not a continuity error. “We just thought the stepsisters would have put [the moles] on themselves, so [the moles] could move around a bit,” explained Donne.

For their glorious curls, Hemming decided to employ the old-school method of pin-curling hair with rags. She vertically wrapped sections around long strips of material, like you would curl with a curling iron (or “tong,” as the Brit says). She then tied the ends of the fabric around the pin curls. Setting them took more commitment than it would with a curling rod, as the actresses had to sleep with them. For a cinematic YouTube tutorial, just watch the scene where the sisters sport the rag-curlers as they prep for the ball.

MAC Lipmix in Fuchsia and Orange, $15, available at MAC; MAC Studio Nail Lacquer in Saint Germain and Morange, $12, available at MAC.
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Photo: Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.
The Fairy Godmother's Magical Look
For the fabulous Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter), Donne was inspired by the “soft, washed-out colors” of a hand-painted photograph from the '20s. But, she also mixed eras by giving Bonham Carter a pale, '60s mod lip complemented by dark, smoky '20s-era eyes. If you look closely, the smokiness is actually a palette of purples — more specifically, the Chanel Les Quatres Ombres in blackberry/petal/orchid and dusk.

Donne first swept the darker hues all around the eyes and brushed the lighter colors in the middle, and then added false lashes on the top and bottom for extra effect. And, if you notice the Godmother’s ultra-white dental work, that’s not a Ross Geller teeth-whitening situation. “We also made [fake] teeth for Helena to give her these big, perfect, bright-white teeth, which changed her face quite a lot, but she ended up looking like a little dolly,” Donne explained.

It seems that the Fairy Godmother dipped into her generous Swarovski-crystal supply for her own hairstyle, too. Her 'do was inspired by the idea of Carole Lombard or Jean Harlow wearing voluminous 18th-century (think Marie Antoinette) poufs. “Helena has crystals in her hair as well, but we reckon it’s fairy dust,” said Hemming. “Swarovski fairy dust.”
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