The scoop on the hair, makeup, and looks at Karen Walker’s NYFW show
On February 15, Karen Walker presented her Fall/Winter 2016 collection, titled Magnetic, as part of New York Fashion Week at Pier 59 Studios in Manhattan. Before watching the show, we were able to catch up with the beauty specialists behind the iconic looks backstage, where we interviewed hairstylist Laurent Philippon and makeup artist Benjamin Puckey. Both stylists talked about the 20th century photographer Berenice Abbott as the inspiration for all aspects of the looks presented in the show. Hair products were provided by Bumble and bumble and makeup by KIKO MILANO, the show’s sponsor.
Tell me about the looks today.
Laurent Philippon: Yes, as you might know, the inspiration of the show was this amazing photographer who was the assistant to the great Man Ray. Her name was Berenice Abbott. We always give credits to Coco Chanel for being the first boyish woman but, no, it was Berenice Abbott. She was wearing the kind of five-point haircut from Vidal Sassoon thirty years before he existed. She had that very particular kind of graphic fringe, so a wonderful inspiration for hair. We did a side graphic part, a swoosh slicked down the left eye, actually this side. We saturated the hair with prep and thickening spray from Bumble and bumble, and then we put a do-rag on it. So it kind of slicked it without being really slicked. It’s not shellacked, you know, there’s a softness to it so it still gives you that kind of ‘20s vibe. The rest of the hair was just textured with surf spray, and voilà!
Wonderful! And can you talk more about Berenice Abbott as the inspiration?
Philippon: Berenice Abbott, as I said, was an American photographer who took a lot of very famous photos of New York in the ‘30s. She lived in Paris and that’s how she made her name sound more French, so Bérénice is really how she changed her name. I don’t know what it was originally. What can I say? She was the assistant of Man Ray so that’s quite something and she was a very stylish woman.
And what about the makeup looks?
Benjamin Puckey: We begin with a foundation that gives a very matte base and some concealer. The next step is the brows. So this is a very handy kind-of pointy tip that we can use to draw in the brow hairs. So we draw the brow hairs in and then we take the other side and we brush them through to make it kind of less strong. And we do that a couple of times until we create the perfect brow and we brush the brow hairs up with a brow gel. And then we start with the eyes which is a kajal pencil, a very dark black kajal pencil, and rim the wet liner and the inside of the eye with a pencil and then we smudge it out. We smudge out the line. And we do that on the top as well and curl out the lashes and apply a thick layer of extra sculpt volume mascara on the top and bottom lashes and then that’s the eye look finished. And we go on to the lips and we use the gossamer emotion lipstick in 103, which is a pinky-brown shade, and that’s the look.
And are you using the same colors for all the girls?
Puckey: No we’re using different shades based on their skin tone, for her we’re using a color that’s a little bit warmer, this would be too gray I think on her. So we’re changing the color based on the girls, yeah. But the eyes stay the same for every one of them, the matte skin stays the same on every one of them, and the brows stay the same on every one of them.
And the inspiration for the look?
Puckey: The inspiration for the makeup look were the portraits that Man Ray, the photographer who was big in the ‘20s took of Berenice Abbott, who was a woman known for her utilitarian glamor. She was also a photographer and they were in kind of a group of artists and photographers. And in the pictures Berenice Abbott always had strong brows, great velvety matte skin, and a dark, smudged eye. And we used her pictures as inspiration for the look today.
Philippon, a stylist for Bumble and bumble, hails from Paris and has worked backstage at Boudicca, Ralph Rucci, J. Mendel, and others, as well as on looks for Italian Vogue, Numero, and Harper’s Bazaar. London-born Puckey is represented by D+V Management and his work has been featured in French Vogue, British Vogue, Allure, Harper’s Bazaar, and more.
After our backstage peek at the beauty products and techniques that went into that day’s looks, we sat to watch the show. Just as the stylists had said, the show gave a heavy nod to Berenice Abbott and her inspiring mix of utilitarian style with pure glamorous presence. The common themes of the show were playful patterns that featured dramatic lines and were referred to by such names as ‘electromagnetic’, ‘dreamscape’, and ‘surrealist’ in the look list, a further nod to Abbott and her modern art friends and patrons. Emphasis was placed on looks that could be lived in. Pants and skirts never extending all the way to the ankle and shoes were kept at a minimal heel or flat entirely. The bold and dramatic eyewear that Walker is so famous for made frequent appearances on many of the girls. All looks either featured a belt or a tighter fit around the waist, accentuating the hips of the model as she sashayed down the runway. Fabrics, even patterned ones, were kept relatively light and airy, save for the thick wool used in some coats and the tan leather pants that made a few appearances. All in all, the electromagnetic pattern and the boyish glamor of Berenice Abbott were the principles most on display.
Karen Walker is a designer hailing from New Zealand and first established retail outlets in 1995 before she began selling her looks to Barneys New York. She shows collections every year at New York Fashion Week and has dressed celebrities including Charlize Theron, Björk, Rihanna, Anne Hathaway, and Lorde.
Photo Credits: Getty Images