How a Hair & Makeup Look is Built

What's a hair and makeup test? When the designer, lead makeup artist, and main hairstylist meet days before a runway show to work out how best to complement the collection. Given the hundreds of hair and makeup looks seen throughout New York Fashion Week and the endless potential, we crashed Karen Walker's test at the ACE hotel last week to find out exactly what happens pre-show.Walker's colourful, polka-dotted clothes held court in the center of the room in which she met with Bumble and bumble's Laurent Phillipon and Clinique's Jenna Menard, to get the ball rolling. "Some designers have a very precise idea of what they want and others just show us the collection and say do whatever you want," said Phillipon. "Karen said, 'I feel like there should be an edge and sharpness coming from the hair,'" to balance out the playful collection." So he suggested a thick fringe, built from extensions, with a loose wave in the back. Walker was into it, so Menard changed direction: "We were originally thinking of doing a thick brow," said the makeup artist, "but now there are bangs involved, so I have a vision of sun-kissed, bronzed cheeks."

After Phillipon fit the extensions and Menard prepped the model's skin, they presented the look to Walker. Throughout the day the look evolved: the bangs were lengthened to below the eye, instead of just under the eyebrow, and the bronzed skin was eschewed in favour of a bright lip (last spring's bold lip led Walker to a lipstick collaboration with Clinique).

Four days later, just before the show, Phillipon was still adjusting the hair. "We're spraying Hair Powder for extra volume and fuzziness as a finishing touch," he said. After prepping the faux bangs with Bumble and bumble Prep and blow-drying them straight, he was loading the rest of the hair up with Bumble and bumble Surf Spray and braiding it into multiple sections before flat ironing each braid. "It's a really easy, very efficient way to give your hair a slight wave," he said.

Menard, meanwhile, was laughing about how far the look had come. "As you can see," she said, "the look completely changed!" The bold pink lip she and Walker ended up choosing wasn't as simple as it looked, and was set against porcelain skin instead of bronzed ("from sun-kissed to moon-kissed"). Menard used one of Clinique's new Chubby Stick Intense Shades (out this spring) and layered two forthcoming eye shadows on top, one to mattify the texture and another to add iridescence. "It's a good example of how you can really change the textures with certain colours," she said.

The clothes may be the main event, but the hair and makeup certainly aren't left to chance.

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