Saturday, 20 February 2010

# 119 What the Hakaan?

When my backstage invite & show ticket were issued to HAKAAN the week before the big event, my expectations had been piqued by the knowledge that i-D's Edward Enninful was styling, hair god Luigi Murenu was on 'do' duty and Lucia Pieroni would be making faces... that's an extraordinarily high-profile team for a Turkish designer who until the event itself had never been heard of in London. And then I arrived and saw Natalia V stride past, followed by Anja Rubik, Lara Stone and MariaCarla Boscono. Even those who were part of the backstage team seemed surprised by the sheer supermodel weight (purely figurative of course) being hurled around the room. And that was before Kate Moss and Carine Roitfeld showed up. Cripes!

So, squinting through the whorls of ciggie smoke backstage (TUT TUT) I jotted down the tips & tricks being employed by the hair & make-up crew, snapping away on my i-phone, which I lost by accidentally dropping said phone into a bowl of steaming ho-fun noodle soup. DAMMIT. But while I no longer have my photographic evidence, I do still have my notes - so here's the scoop:

1) Hair, courtesy of the John Frieda team, was "boy on top and girl in back" (nice). While Luigi wandered around, getting models into seats and fine-tuning each and every strand, his team fed Unique Wiiv 100% Human Hair pieces through the under sections - the adhesive strips pressed up as close as possible to the scalp and heated up with a hairdryer which set them in place. These back bits were then blow-dried, along with intermittent spritzes of Elnett Hairspray to keep flyaways in check, and when dry and smooth, tonged with a slim-barrel iron. These very loose waves were then brushed out to give an imperfect frizz-fine finish.

2) The top sections were centre-parted, sozzled in John Frieda Luxurious Volume Mousse, until completely 'wet' and dried with a Mason Pearson brush for a sleek, shiny finish. Models with thicker hair were treated with John Frieda Frizz Ease too, which was rubbed over the crown as a finishing, patina-amping touch. This top section was then pinned in place and flattened with a temporary layer of gauze while models toddled off to make-up.

3) In make-up, the girls had their brows bleached (feel for the darker-haired models who had to sit through 2 rounds of Jolen) - but Anja R escaped sans-peroxide, Lucia brushing Estee Lauder Maximum Cover Camouflage Make-Up through her brows instead. On eyes she was using the quad - (I'm pretty sure it was the Eye Shadow x 4 Colour 3 Quad) - and worked the brown/purple (Jungle Moon) into the eyelid crease. She then worked highlighter over tops of cheekbones, brows, forehead and the orbital bone, and used a minky brown bronzer to contour cheeks and subtly colour foreheads. Finally, a layer of balm over lips, buffing them to smoothness and a lash-curl and girls strutted off for their walk-through.

4) Skincare spied on the bench: La Roche Posay Hydraphase XL - which artists massaged into clean skin before using foundation; Embryolisse (ever-present at the shows it seems, even if it's not for me!); Bioderma Eye Make-Up Remover (gentle, yes, but not great on waterproof mascara); and a selection of Giorgio Armani Foundations, including Face Fabric.

Oh, and the clothes?

Pretty Fakaan great.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

# 118 Back to Backstage

As the UK's glossy-mag-world prepares for the advent of London Fashion Week, the same-old-but-never-old process has got me thinking, and reminiscing, and feeling a little wary before things have even started. Last year I attended around 20 shows and was backstage at just a handful, having decided to post myself out front in a bid to peek at the looks favoured by the 'real' women as opposed to the implausibly lovely little girls being made-up backstage. I had fun, until about 2 days in, when I realised that the mood was almost permanently rooted in quiet desperation, and I became acutely aware of the legions of fawning fashionistas attempting to get a glimpse of the LFW passes hanging around their neighbours' necks in order to discover if they were really worth smiling at. I've conversed, somewhat briefly, with Liberty London Girl over email, about the scary two-faced world that fashion can sometimes be, but as a beauty journo, well, I feel I've never been burned. My world is a gorgeous globe of wonderful PRs who bend over backwards to aid us (and let's not forget, the PRs work extremely long hours & are at the beck and call of both clients & journos alike - so, R.E.S.P.E.C.T) and in my 7 (or is it 8 now?) years of playing this game, I've come across so many wonderful people & am still heartily enjoying every moment of it. I can walk into a launch without a friend in the room or assistant by my side, all alone, and have a laugh, a giggle, a good time, without having to pretend that I'm dealing with essential business on my i-phone. It's not always so easy - sometimes the room's divided into the Natmags & IPC girls (they always seem to travel in packs!), but most of the time, there's a space of friendly faces & a relaxed atmosphere. Which is why I'm still doing what I'm doing.

I've written for small mags, online mags, big mags, new mags, rags, dailies, internationals... and at no point in my ever-evolving freelance role did I ever feel as though a door had been slammed in my face. So, long overdue as it may be, I'd just like to say an enormous thank you to all the fantastic PRs with whom I have regular contact in my 'non-anony' guise, and send out a big virtual hug. Squeeze.

Right, so, the real point of this post is to muse about the fact that, last year, while squeezed up beside the fashion peeps I began to hanker after my beauty enclave once more & so, for Autumn/Winter 2010, I am again venturing backstage. I've really missed it - the NEW NEW NEWness of everything, as my eyes pop with cosmetic-candy alerts; the general crazy energy of the artists; the mix-tapes picked by each & every designer, to get their models in perfect pre-walk mood; the smell of unfamiliar products & intense whiff of favourite ones; the skill and genius of so many of the unnamed crews of cosmetic whizz-kids - all of them rocking their own look, making a statement, loving every second of it. But it's not the trends that get me palpitating - it's the people, the pros, wielding skill like a silver Samurai sword.

And on Friday I'll be privy to the handiwork of one of my all-time favourite hair heroes, Luigi Murenu. I. AM. SO. EXCITED.

And of course, poised to post, post-show, to share all that my green eyes take in, celebrate & savour.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

# 117 Hair Raising

I’m funny about my hair. I’m not one of those people who ever developed the knack of layering products and pouffing and fluffing until they end up with perfectly tousled tresses that are simultaneously sexy and chic. In fact, whenever I’ve attempted to do laissez-faire hair, I’ve felt oddly self-conscious about it – and just before heading out the door have opted for a chignon, bun, or slick side-parting instead. The thing is, whenever a ‘pro’ offers his/her take on messy, sultry hair (and they’re keen to, given that I’ve got handfuls of the thick stuff), I’ve loved it. I remember Mathew Alexander working hot rollers through my locks one evening as I trembled in anticipation and watched in awe as he brushed out big, bouncing waves and pinned to one side for perfect 1950s drama. Gawd, I loved it – and got followed down the street by two (rather drunk, it must be said) young banker-boys as I attempted to hail a cab. Mathew’s one instruction of the night: ‘BUY YOURSELF SOME HOT ROLLERS.’ Did I? Did I heck. I simply returned to my staple super-straight side-part, or messy updos with plaited bits & bobs, which is my safety zone… and, well, boring me to death now that I’m preparing to turn 30.

Now, I can’t claim an epiphany (if only), but a few new hair products have helped smooth things out of late, and I’ve found it easier to let my hair do what nature intended for it (sort of wavy, big, and thick), instead of ironing it into subservience.

First up is Aussie Aussome Volume + Conditioning Mousse. Firstly, g-reat idea. I’ve always loved mousse for amping up the roots, but this is the first one I’ve used which really sleekens and adds shine too. Once I’ve applied it to wet hair a comb glides straight through it – nice. Plus (and this is a real bonus for all busy working women), three days in and hair’s still not greasy. It leaves hair bouncy, but not very big – so those with really limp locks might want something stronger – but for me, it adds the necessary oomph with just the right amount of lustre.

So, I’ve been using the Aussie from roots to ear-lengths, and then rubbing a dollop of Ojon Restorative Leave In Treatment through the mid-lengths to ends. This has a very strong, sweet & nutty smell – like cocoa-vanilla icing – but for some reason, I’ve grown to quite like it, especially as it heats up beneath the hair-dryer. It’s like baking! What I like about it is that it’s not siliconey – and there is an incremental improvement to be gained from using it each and every time you blow-dry (my ends do look less knackered). It’s also great to use before a flat-iron as the oils bring out the sort of glitzy shine and straightness that implies health, rather than lank and flat extensions. I like it a lot – but it is expensive. On the pro-side, a little does go a long way and the tube will probably keep me going for 6 months or more.

Now, back to the sulfate-free search. Frederic Fekkai Au Naturel Shampoo and Conditioner have nailed it. It’s been 3 weeks & there’s no build-up (and I’ve been using styling products – as above), a single shampoo leaves hair lovely & clean, but never squeaky or sticky, the scents are great (clean, fresh, smile-inducing) and I’ve had no scalp irritation whatsoever since adding them into my arsenal. The conditioner treads the line between being creamy and lightweight, and just does what it needs to do with no tricky gimmicks or promises that miss the mark. It’s the most effective sulfate-free combo I’ve ever tried. But, as with all great things, there’s a catch: they’re not cheap – £18 each. Gaw! Would I buy? Oh dear… yes, I would, over and over, which I feel rather guilty about (almost £40 on shampers & conditioner?! What would Mister M say?) For the moment, and with both bottles half-full, I’ll live on in ignorant bliss.