Thom Browne Calls Us Crazy, We Agree

Clowns. Insane. Hospital. Sounds like your most recent nightmare? To the hair, makeup, and nails teams backstage at Thom Browne, it sounds like the keywords they were given to create a spring '14 beauty look — and it was the antithesis of everything we've seen at Fashion Week so far. There was no prettiness here — no shimmers or fresh pinks, no flowers whimsically decorating tousled hair. It was thematically dark, and visually, it was relatively disturbing.
The models were divided into two groups: nurses and patients. All had mask-like white makeup painting their entire faces, with a full, overdrawn red lip. Makeup artist Sil Bruinsma for MAC smudged the makeup of the patients, some backstage, and others, right before they appeared on the runway. The contrast in makeup was arresting. While the nurses were visions of carefully-crafted control, that same makeup — when smudged on the patients — made them seem lost, unhinged, and even a little dangerous. According to Bruinsma, this was not part of a larger comment on mental illness, though we did wonder how kosher creating visual categories around performed levels of sanity really was.
And that hair? With red and white hairnets to distinguish between nurses and patients, the hair beneath it was teased, sprayed, and blown out as far and as high as possible, then covered with white hair powder. Some 'dos were so enormous, it looked as though small creatures could happily live and thrive there. Perhaps the creepiest element of this look, though, were the nails: Glued atop handmade latex gloves, they looked more like white claws.
So, the main question on our minds: Was this a metaphor, or simply the embodiment of a very specific, concrete vision? While Bruinsma insisted that the show should be taken at its smudgy-faced value, we couldn't help but wonder at the intent behind creating a look that was not only deliberately unwearable, but a little hard to look at. Not that we're complaining — it was thrilling to see artists really leaning in to create a look that jolted us out of our strong brow/nude skin haze. And, after all, we do always appreciate a little Halloweenspiration.

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