Photo: Rob Latorre for NARS
We beauty editors have come to expect barely-there makeup looks from Proenza Schouler. These are the girls, as we're told season after season, who are "well-traveled," "downtown-chic," and "effortless." "The fashion makes the statement," explained the brand's go-to backstage makeup artist, Diane Kendal. "The models just need to look really natural and cool."
This season, "cool" apparently translated to "no makeup at all." "The designers just wanted the girls to look really fresh," Kendal said. "So, we're basically just grooming — brushing up the brows, adding a little bit of gloss on the eyelids, and then applying a textured moisturizer all over to give them a glow."
"What's the highlight?" one editor asked Kendal, pointing to the light bouncing off a model's cheekbones.
"That's moisturizer," she replied.
After the reporters skeptically poked around, examining each makeup artists' station, we realized that there was truly barely anything going on. In fact, two hours before showtime, most of the girls were either completely done or waiting for a hairstylist's chair to open up. The photographers, normally all elbowing and aggression, now aimed their cameras with hesitation. "Could I get your photo?" one asked the new It Girl du jour, Binx Walton. "I would, but I haven't had my makeup done," she responded.
"But, there is no makeup," he said with a look of consternation, before trying his luck again on a pair of girls who were deeply immersed in boy-talk at the catering table.
It was a funny little irony. We're more than familiar with the typical "no-makeup makeup" looks seen backstage, but that's a finely-honed technique which is more about the illusion of natural beauty than the blatant display of it. It was the perfect (almost) book end to Fashion Week: a statement of nothing at all. And then, it happened again the very next day.
Photo: Rob Latorre for NARS
At last night's Marc Jacobs show, François Nars also applied only moisturizer. But, unlike at Proenza, this was a complete departure for Marc — who normally showcases dramatic, '60s-inspired beauty. In a distinctly "fashion" moment, Nars' reasoning for the bare faces was a statement against the ubiquitous "no-makeup" look. "The models just don't really need any makeup," he said.
"I don't like to do anything that's middle-of-the-road," said the makeup artist. "I hate the idea of doing healthy, with the rosy cheeks and all of that. But, I do like the dramatic idea and statement of doing nothing at all."
And, once the shaggy wigs, custom-cut for each model by Guido Palau, were on the models' heads, it became difficult to distinguish Kendall Jenner from Gigi Hadid — which effectively defeated the purpose of casting the expensive, big-name girls. "It's almost like they're all the same — just an army of girls," said Nars.
He was quick to qualify that his team was "lucky" to work with a range of models who have such impeccable skin — a byproduct of being young, coupled with great genes — but that there was more truth to showing them with no makeup on. "I'm one of the few artists who loves no makeup as much as I love a lot of it," he said. "It's important to show women many different ways to look, not just one. And, that includes not wearing makeup at all."