Backstage at Douglas Hannant, legendary hairstylist Edward Tricomi theorized a bit on beauty. He said looks essentially never change, but the techniques to achieve them and the way you make them your own are always evolving. At New York Fashion Week, this theory was proven in spades. Whether referencing the ’60s or the ’90s or Audrey Hepburn or Grace Jones, what emerged was a sensibility whose basis may have been familiar, but whose execution absolutely set a fresh course for spring 2013.

Take, for example, the ponytail. It bobbed and swung as confidently and cheerfully on many runways as it has in several seasons past. Now, however, it was dangling with straight and crimped strands and perhaps hanging out next to a braid. Indeed, many hairstylists worked sleek and kinky textures and accents like braids, knots and twists into an all-in-one look that was incredibly modern.

Mixed texture wasn’t the only story. For makeup, artists honed in on the natural glow. “It’s hard,” said James Kaliardos at Theyskens’ Theory. “You want it to look like it’s coming from within, but makeup is something that essentially covers the surface.” Some makeup artists handled that dichotomy by leaving the face nearly bare and then bringing it to life with luminizing touches and others sculpted it carefully by quickly blending foundations and highlighters. The majority played with cream-based products, applying them where they needed a hit of shine so that you saw lipstick and lip balm being swiped onto eyelids or on top of cheeks. “It’s like the idea of homemade makeup,” said Dick Page at Marc by Marc Jacobs. “It shouldn’t be too pretty.”

When it came to color, it was all about catching the red eye. Hues of pink and cherry popped up at many shows on lids and even all around the eyes for a dramatic statement that may be tricky to translate for everyday life. Lashes were often completely bare, with waterlines rimmed in white for a needed pop. While the dramatic red lip still showed up, it was often mucked up with a dab of pink at the center and didn’t seem as strong this season as lips that were gently kissed with a wash of sheer pigment.

Nails reached a tipping point, as well, this week. After the over-the-top designs and shades that have often stole the show over the last year, manicurists instead reached for the prettiest and quietest nudes, ballet slipper pinks and graphic whites that will see us pulling out our staple polishes from the back of our drawers again.

Here is a behind-the-scenes breakdown of each look from today’s presentations.

BIBHU MOHAPATRA

Beauty at Bibhu Mohapatra was about rebirth, with the ephemeral luna moth serving as the inspiration. Hairstylist Amit Abraham created clean and minimal hair that featured two fishtail braids interlaced into a cocoonlike shape at the back. To get the look, he first separated hair into a center part from the forehead to the nape of the neck and spritzed L’Oréal Professionnel Mythic Oil Reinforcing Milk into roots to flatten and smooth the part, then raked a soon-to-be-released L’Oréal Professionnel True Grip Powder into strands for hold and texture. He next formed two fishtail braids on both sides and wove them together into a rectangular bun, secured with pins. To set the look and add a dose of shine, he topped it off with L’Oréal Professionnel Freezing Mist and L’Oréal Professionnel Perfect Shimmer. For the final touch, Abraham filled in the center part below the bun with a stroke of lime green pencil as a literal ode to the color of the moth. Makeup artist Gato played into the theme by thinking about an ethereal girl who is “revived after a harsh winter.” He blended the bronze shades in Maybelline Eye Studio Color Plush Silk Eyeshadow in Copper Chic on the eyes and faded the colors out toward the temples. Using Maybelline Color Sensational Lipcolor in Coral Crush, Gato applied pink under the lower lash lines and used his fingertips to blend out the color. To match the pop of pink on the eyes, he dabbed Maybelline Dream Bouncy Blush in Rose Petal onto the center of the cheeks and swept on Maybelline Dream Bouncy Blush in Candy Coral just below the cheekbones. Gato rounded out the look by padding Maybelline Color Sensational Lipcolor in Magnificent Mauve onto just the center of the mouth. Manicurist Honey decided to interpret reincarnation with a dove gray color that she chose “because of its perfect balance between black and white,” she said. “It’s about having that symmetry.” She used two coats of Maybelline Color Show Nail Lacquer in Audacious Asphalt on nails and skipped the top coat in favor of the formula’s naturally glossy finish.

DOUGLAS HANNANT

“The inspiration was Pippi Longstocking getting wasted in the garden,” said hairstylist Edward Tricomi of his ’60s updos for Douglas Hannant. To get the look, he curled two-inch strands about a one-and-a-quarter-inch barrel iron all around the head, setting each curl with hair spray and then clipping it in place. He then released the clips, teased the top and pulled together a French twist about halfway down the back of the head. He finally let curls fall beautifully down the nape of the neck. Makeup artist Mikey Castillo played into the ’60s inspiration with a nod to the film Roman Holiday. “That was an era when young girls aspired to be ladylike,” he explained. He put together the face first by applying a matte foundation. He then created a shaped arched brow by applying a brush of soft color. “We went as soft as we could go,” he said. “We wanted it perfect, but not too masculine.” For the eye, he stuffed a smoldering black directly into the upper lash lines, smudged it and then brushed over it with a pink for what he called a “champagne effect.” He swiped on a light coat of mascara to finish the look. He next turned to the cheeks and lips, applying pink at the apples of the cheeks “as would a little girl” and bold pink to the mouth. Pink also dressed the nails, with manicurist Gina Edwards using Essie Nail Polish in Knockout Pout for an effect she said was “like walking through a daydream.”

RACHEL ZOE

Looking to the designer herself, the hair, makeup and nails had a bohemian vibe at Rachel Zoe. Makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury referenced a carefree Kate Moss when developing the face. She prepped skin with Maybelline Dream Fresh BB  and contoured cheekbones and temples with Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse in Cocoa Dark. She coated eyes with a mixture of Cocoa Dark and Maybelline Eye Studio Color Tattoo 24HR Cream Gel Shadow in Bad to the Bronze for a neutral smoky effect. Tilbury then brushed Maybelline Volum’ Express The Mega Plush mascara through lashes to complete the eye. She gave cheeks a fresh flush using a mix of Maybelline Dream Bouncy Blush in Fresh Pink and Rose Petal, and naturally enhanced lips with a combination of Maybelline Color Sensational Lip Liner in Nude 20 and Maybelline Baby Lips in Quenched. For a touch of quirkiness and charm, Tilbury drew freckles across the nose with Maybelline Eye Studio Master Shape Brow Pencil in Soft Brown. Hair advanced the languid vibe with a sexy bedhead look inspired by Marianne Faithfull and Brigitte Bardot. Odile Gilbert prepped locks with Kérastase Mousse Volumactive for lift and texture and Kérastase Fibre Architecte to seal split ends. She then blow-dried hair with a round brush and formed finger curls all around the head that she pinned in place for extra volume. Right before the show, she released the curls and brushed them out, spraying on Kérastase Double Force hair spray to set the look. Gilbert gave some models temporary bangs with extensions that she cut herself on the spot. She created a braid on top of the head and sewed the bangs directly into the braid shelf for the show. To round out the look, manicurist Honey mixed three shades for nails. She concocted a hue comprised of Maybelline Color Show Nail Lacquer in Sweet Clementine, Porcelain Party and Born With It for a sherbet polish that she described as “dreamsicle.”

REED KRAKOFF

Clean. Simple. Natural. This was the vision for the beauty look at Reed Krakoff. Diane Kendal was more focused on skin care than makeup, seeking a fresh face for spring. She used only the basics—moisturizer, concealer and lip conditioner—and filled in the eyebrow only where needed. The standout product was the MAC Prep + Prime Skin Smoother to mattify skin and fill in any lines, especially around the nose and T-zone. Hairstylist Guido Palau created a wet ponytail that he said was inspired by “an American view of beauty—simple, but perfected.” To get the look, Palau used Redken All Soft Argan-6 Oil for wetness and then Redken Forceful 23 Super Strength Finishing Spray for hold. Nails were short, squared and classic, painted in a sheer nude Maybelline Nail Lacquer in Born With It.

 

 

MARCHESA

Marchesa turned to India in the ’60s when designing its latest collection, but the beauty look was less literal and more interpreted. Makeup mimicked the pure opulence of the clothes, with flashes of gold on the eyes. Makeup artist Talia Shobrook started with flawless, lustrous skin that she achieved by mixing together a Laura Mercier foundation and illuminating tinted moisturizer. She then contoured cheekbones and the forehead with a Laura Mercier bronzing powder. For eyes, Shobrook first swept on a wheat shadow and contoured the creases with the bronzer. She then drew a straight line across the lower lash lines with a black Laura Mercier eyeliner and brushed a coat of mascara on lashes. She finally accented the look with flecks of gold leaf that she placed on the inner corners of the eyes for a glimmering effect and washed lips in a soft mocha shade. Hair combined braids and a ponytail to complement the collection’s intricate embroidery. “There are no ornaments in the hair, so we’re using the braids to serve as the hair’s natural garnishes,” hairstylist Renato Campora explained. He began by spraying slightly damp hair with a Fekkai lifting and texturizing gel. After creating a straight middle part, he blow-dried strands while using his hands to smooth and flatten the top. Campora then divided the hair on either side of the part into sections. He gathered the back section into a low ponytail. In the front sections, he formed two braids on each side and then crisscrossed them over each other and around the ponytail. As a final step, Campora teased the ponytail with a comb, set it with a Fekkai hair spray and then smoothed it out with a Fekkai glossing mist. Nails were dressed formally in a deep eggplant shade. Manicurist Michelle Saunders first prepped tips with a coat of Essie Nail Polish in Ballet Slippers, “which is a sneaky way to bring out the plum hues in eggplant,” she revealed. She then painted on Essie Nail Polish in Luxedo and finished with a top coat for a luxuriously glossy finish.

WHITNEY EVE

At the Whitney Eve show, hairstylist Marc Mena articulated the beauty look in two words: polished tomboy. To complement the line’s clean silhouettes infused with texture and embellishment, the hair was its own “contradiction of smooth and rough.” After applying Garnier Fructis Style Volumizing Sky-Hi Volume Mousse for fullness, Mena smoothed hair. Then he imparted “kink, not curl, only to the back” by “zigzagging” strands around a small barrel curling iron. He next created an off-center part that aligned with the arch of  the eyebrow “for an uplifting effect” and pulled together a messy ponytail in back. He set the look with Garnier Fructis Style Sleek & Shine Anti-Humidity Hairspray and added a cluster of white bobby pins at the front and white elastics at the ponytail as “unconventional hair accessories.” The makeup picked up the muted tones of the collection. Dominic Cruz created a luminous monochromatic look using Kryolan pro palettes. He kept skin “clean, dewy and youthful” using custom-blended concealer around the eyes and a touch of tinted moisturizer on the face. He dusted HD powder on top to set, but not mattify, the makeup. He then created a soft taupe smoky eye using the V1 (Interfernz) and V3 (Natural) shadow kits, with color fully rimming the eye. Cruz placed “pearl shimmer shadow from V1 in the inner corner to open and brighten eyes.” Cruz also dusted the same pearl shadow onto cheekbones for added radiance. He lightly filled brows to appear androgynous but not heavy and he coated the lashes with a simple swipe of mascara. He finished the look by coating lips with a rosy-brown gloss. Nails were accented in a graphic white with a casually drawn blue stripe down the centers.

—Christiana Molina, Jennifer Hirshlag, Caitlin Larwood, Lauren Cosenza

Photo: Diane Bondareff/Invision for L’Oréal Professionnel/AP Images (Mohapatra main)