Janetta Mackay: Backstage beauty

By Janetta Mackay

James Molloy, M.A.C director of artistry for Asia-Pacific, seen here backstage at Tokyo Fashion Week, is bringing his international skills to New Zealand Fashion Week.
James Molloy, M.A.C director of artistry for Asia-Pacific, seen here backstage at Tokyo Fashion Week, is bringing his international skills to New Zealand Fashion Week.

Fashion weeks aren't just about the clothes. They are a launch pad for hair and beauty trends, with runway influencing celebrity red-carpet styling, which in turn popularises looks to a wider public. Backstage at the big overseas shows, these days there can be as many media clustered around star makeup artists and hairstylists as around the designers.

This reflects the scale of the global beauty industry and consumer interest in affordable updates. Chanel, Dior, Saint Laurent etc make much of their real money selling lipsticks - and the handbags they slip into - so the marketing of beauty and fashion is inextricably linked. The cachet of contributing to an influential look and seeing it communicated to an eager audience attracts top talent backstage. The hot-house environment is also the ultimate testing ground for creativity under pressure and a place where new products are put through their paces.

At New Zealand Fashion Week, some of the local industry's biggest names will be in action and at Viva online, we will be bringing the best of their looks to you.

In the 10-15 minutes that it takes for a show to whiz by, most people will rightly focus on the fashion, but afterwards we'll make sure to bring back some deserved focus above the neckline.

Most of the shows have already done their hair and makeup tests and from a sneak look, I'm picking that we will see plenty of graphic eyeliner and skin shine, with hair that ranges from wet-look to cascading curls.

Before the big reveal, there will have been up to four hours of backstage preparation. The hair or makeup director begins by demonstrating the agreed look on a model, with assistants following suit as the girls arrive, often in a rush from other shows. The team's work is scrutinised, with adjustments along the way, usually to ensure uniformity. Every so often, there will be a last-minute rethink, with a chosen colour changed or a style reworked.

Racing against the clock, no-one relaxes until the final line-up of models files past them and the designer and out onto the runway, where the scrutiny begins anew.

- VIVA

* Look for Viva beauty editor Janetta Mackay's weekly report every Tuesday.

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