Fashion’s month-long marathon has made its pitstop in London. For beauty editors that generally means buzzing around backstage to get the lowdown on the latest looks in the capital. But not for us. Well, not at Topshop Unique at least, because we were given exclusive access to their test shoot. Taking place 48 hours before the show, we spent the afternoon at Topshop HQ, watching the newest beauty trends unfold courtesy of hair and makeup royalty, Duffy, Lynsey Alexander and Jenny Longworth. We also got to swoon over model of the moment Lily Jean Harvey, snapped up by Topshop for the SS17 campaign. Here’s what we learnt… The inspiration behind the collection is cool girl urban traveller meets '90s northern raver. How does this translate into beauty? “Makeup-wise, it’s quite understated and raw,” reveals Lynsey Alexander. “We wanted to create a look that reveals what the girl is rather than allude to a certain season. So although she’s a traveller she’s still very British and cool. Think Kate Moss in the '90s, but with references from Helmut Lang’s most iconic '90s campaigns, where everything is undone.”
To achieve the raw base, Alexander prepped skin with Topshop Glow Prime & Finish, £12. “Our girl is a bit of a Manchester raver, so there’s Hacienda influences in there, hence the reason we’ve gone for this sweaty, kind of luminous skin.” The trick to pulling it off? “It’s about applying shine in the right places, so that you’re on the right side of luminous” advises Alexander. “It’s not grungy, it’s a girl who’s very evanescent and alive.” For the shows, Alexander admits she can afford to rub the Glow Prime all over the models' faces because of the lighting, and how young they are. For us mere mortals, she recommends applying to just the high points on the face. “So cheekbones, Cupid’s bow, brow bone and bridge of nose; and of course, if needed you can apply concealer beforehand for coverage.” Next up? A swipe of Topshop Contour Wand, £12. “This gives a slight structure, but it shouldn’t be a strong feature” warns Alexander. To apply, forgo the sponge on the end and use fingers, she says. “Warm hands really help to melt the formula into the skin, making the finish natural rather than overly sculpted.” This was followed by a smattering of Topshop Cream Blush in Dalliance, £7. “It’s an outdoorsy boy blush rather than young and sweet.”
A fabulous terracotta orange shade was applied to the mouth using Topshop Lip Paint and Lip Mattifier (out in March 2017). The lip is then blurred with a cotton bud to give a feathered effect. To ace the application, “blur it with small back-and-forth motions and keep it slightly more accentuated in the middle” says Alexander. Eyelids were treated to a wash of Vaseline, while lashes were coated with Topshop False Lash Intense, £10, before being pinched together, using tips of finger and thumb. “We want this crunchy lash, that gives the appearance of lots of layers.” Brows were brushed up to give them a British stamp. “It’s about an accentuated, handsome eyebrow,” exclaimed Alexander. “It’s not about the '90s brow in a really over-plucked way! It still has to look modern.”
The hair look is really simple, reveals Duffy. “It’s a centre parting with straight, clean, beautiful one-length hair. Everybody’s got used to that Kardashian look, where hair is overly layered, so we’re going against the populace which is quite nice”, he declares. Taking the inspiration of a worldly, travelled girl into account, Duffy explains it’s a "considered rawness". “It’s done intentionally, but made to look stripped-back, which sits with their traveller vibe and '90s effortlessness.” He starts with a centre parting and generous application of L’Oréal Professionnel Tecni Art Pli, £14.50. Some extensions were also added to give it that teenage, unaffected feel. However, Duffy explained that “it’s not Donatella Versace or Barbie doll '90s, where every single girl is identical. If some models have a bob or afro, we’ll keep it that way for individuality.”
Using a straightening iron – the early '90s tool for which we all went wild – Duffy sections the hair and runs the iron through from root to tip. “The key is to really flatten the cuticle and make it super shiny and compact so as the model walks, their hair shatters.” To recreate at home, “skip the big blow dry as you don’t want volume at the roots” he advises. “Good shampoo and conditioner are also key, along with plenty of heat protection spray. L’Oréal Tecni Art Constructor, £12.30 is my go-to and I finish with a generous mist of L’Oréal Professionnel Infinium Soft, £3.65, to hold.” To complete the look, manicurist Jenny Longworth opted for the era's quintessential nail look, a French manicure. A flash of Topshop Gel Nails in Mimic, £8, is swept onto the tips before finishing with a vibrant layer of Topshop Gel Nails Topcoat, £8.