The Ruffian Boys Talk Red Lipstick, Bold Brows, & Brooklyn

As rough as Fashion Week can get (especially fighting the throngs to get backstage coverage), sometimes there are moments that genuinely make all of the chaos more than worth it. We had one of those moments while backstage at the Ruffian spring ’13 show. Co-designers Brian Wolk and Claude Morais are as charming as can be, and their personalities were apparent throughout their perfectly executed collection, which included baroque and neoclassical details and fabrics (including a custom-designed toile print depicting scenes from their Brooklyn neighborhood) that had been re-imagined for a pretty-punk city girl.
One could say that Wolk and Morais are fashion designers for the beauty lover; few other designers seem to take as much ownership and delight in creating the perfect hair, makeup, and nail looks to complement their collection. After the launch of their now-classic lipstick, Ruffian Red (it’s officially our fave), Morais and Wolk re-launched the lippie and used it in their spring show, along with “modern Rockabilly” hairstyles, bold brows, and to-die-for nail jewelry. We were fortunate enough to get a moment with the designers before the magnificent looks sailed down the runway — a NYFW moment that we will surely never forget.
As designers, you obviously take real ownership of your beauty looks, with the perfect example being your MAC Ruffian Red lipstick. How did you end up incorporating your MAC Ruffian Collection into the beauty looks for your spring collection?
Claude: "I think you re-invent it…we re-appropriate it, used it on the redheads, and then used Naked, our new shade, on the blondes. So, James [Kaliardos, of MAC] was amazing at mixing it all up all over again, so because you know, we’re very excited about having something that we own and that MAC helped us produce it."
Brian: "And, you know, a classic is a classic."
You guys are from Williamsburg, so how did you work Brooklyn in?
Brian: "Well we wanting to mix it up… you know, we’re obviously very passionate about couture detailing, seaming, beautiful fabrics, and brocades, but we wanted to bring it to the street, where we live in Williamsburg. And that was our fun design challenge, and we really enjoyed doing it this season. We are using Converse; we’re not using heels, which is a first for us. We worked with John Gordon Gauld to create a Williamsburg Toile de Joie, so it depicts different scenes in our neighborhood."
Claude: "The band is from Williamsburg; the music has been done by Ambassadors, so we were really excited to work with them."
Brian: "So, we wanted to mix it all up, make it fun, make it accessible…even with their manicure this season, we introduced jewelry. A lot of the elements of the collection were inspired by Russian Imperialism, so we took gold filigree and we applied them to the nail. And that was really exciting for us, too, the idea of accessorizing the nail."
And what about the brows?
Claude: "It’s a strong brow. I think the strong brow is the new thing, and I think it just changes the face. It’s so easy to make that change without blocking or changing the brow…just making it darker is so dramatic, and James really blew my mind when he created the bold look for us."

Photo: Maria Valentino/MCV Photo

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