Thom Browne’s fashion shows have become well-known for their incredible displays of craftsmanship and dramatic performances, ranging from unicorns to models walking on iced-over ponds in a quirky winter wonderland.
The designer also has a penchant for over the top beauty, and for his Fall 2018 show today in Paris, he wasn’t afraid to go all out. The runway show showcased models set up with easels who pretended to paint, wearing beehives and gray contouring and highlighting, while others walked the runway and posed couture salon style, donning metallic sculpted updos. A group wearing theatrical dog masks closed the show.
Hairstylist Eugene Souleiman was the mastermind behind the two different hairstyles. Backstage before the show in Paris, he sculpted the hair using multiple hair donuts (like the kind used to add volume for ballerina buns) and ponytails to build height. After, he sprayed Kryolan Color Spray in a light gray hue over the entire hair sculpture, before placing Thom Browne’s signature blue, white, and red striped ribbon on the top. “It’s an exercise in the reduction of weight and changing the shape of the head,” Souleiman told Allure of the construction.
As for the second style, Souleiman twisted the ends of hair in swirls atop the head and sprayed them in a bronze color. The inspiration behind both looks came courtesy of both Souleiman and Browne’s love of all things whimsical. “It started in New York,” Souleiman said. “Thom loves fantasy, and we love fantasy.”
“The original inspiration came from Marie Antoinette’s portrait painted in the 18th century by Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun,” added Souleiman. “She should almost be like a form of sculpture, she should be very powerful and almost otherworldly.” Souleiman wanted the style to have a similar look to an 18th-century hairstyle, but not look directly 18th century inspired.
When talking to Browne in New York months before the show, he asked the designer, ”What if the hair looked like a cross between a Brâncuși [sculpture] and a Fabergé egg?” As for the shorter, bronze styles, Souleiman was thinking of Damascus steel (steel with a distinct texture, often seen on swords during the medieval period).
To go with those extreme beehives and gilded up-dos, makeup artist Diane Kendal created an extreme form of contouring for everyone who played the role of painters. “There was a lot of hollowing of the cheeks with a brown and gray tone — it’s ice queen,” M.A.C. senior makeup artist John Stapleton told Allure.
The look was created using M.A.C. Pro Longwear Nourishing Waterproof Foundation and four parts of the brand’s Pro Performance HD Airbrush Makeup in white. “It’s pretty indelible, so it stays on really well, and you can pull clothes over it without it transferring.” Kendal wanted the makeup to not look too ghostly, and made the overall tone lean towards more of a natural light pinkish gray than a harsh, bright white.
“Using the gray shade from our ‘Semi Sweet Times Nine’ palette, Diane carved out the cheekbone,” said Stapleton. “She also carved out through the crease of the eye, contoured down the nose.”
The contouring was actually inspired by the typical Instagram makeup look, with blocked out eyebrows and highlighter above the brow, just in a much more extreme way. The models who didn’t pose as painters had a very similar application that was much softer. “They also got a dash of gold pigment in the corner of the eye,” Stapleton explained. Who knew Instagram makeup would manifest itself in such an OTT way at Paris Fashion Week.
For more fall 2018 backstage beauty coverage, keep reading:
At Dries Van Noten, Models Wore Eight Different Shades of Neon MascaraMilan Fashion Week Fall 2018: The Best Hair and Makeup Trends of the SeasonDior Beauty Debuts Colorful New Liquid Eyeliners Backstage at Its Fall 2018 Show
While you’re at it, check out one of our editors master the viral flare highlighter technique: