Giorgio Armani is a man of few words—at least when it comes to discussing his runway show inspiration. For his Spring 2011 Privé couture show in Paris yesterday, he offered Linda Cantello, Armani's international makeup artist, two simple words of direction: Precious gemstones. "Mr. Armani never reveals his full inspiration to me," Linda told me post-show via phone from Paris. "He just mentions a few key words, then I try to get inside his head and interpret what that means for the makeup. In a way, it makes it so simple to understand what he wants, you know?"
Simple or not, Linda created the perfect makeup counterpoint to the collection's supershiny clothes: Strong brows, porcelain skin, and a velvety, deep violet mouth. "We tried about four other options for the lip color," Linda said. "Red seemed too obvious, blue felt too out there. Dark purple, however, goes with everything and looks great on everyone." To create the dramatic hue, Linda filled in the lips with violet pencil, painted on Armani Rouge d’Armani Lipstick in No. 601, a dark berry, then intensified the color by brushing the pure plum pigment from Armani's spring La Femme Bleue eye shadow palette on top of the lipstick. She added a gemstone-like finish by affixing a single rhinestone to the left corner of each model's bottom lip. "The idea is couture makeup that's pushed a bit further, but without going to extremes," she said.
To keep the look under control, Linda balanced out the rest of the face with soft matte colors from Armani. She perfected the skin with Luminous Silk Foundation and powder, contoured the cheeks with Sheer Blush No. 5 Beige Violet, a soft pinky-brown, then worked that same blush color into the creases of the lids and under the eyes to create subtle definition. She swept Eyes To Kill Excess Mascara on the top lashes and filled in the brows to give them, as she called it, "a couture shape." Nails matched the severely chic lip color, which, incidentally, Linda says you can recreate with the same lipstick used in the show, Rouge d’Armani No 601—but before you swipe it on, "fill in your lips first a dark violet pencil to intensify the color," she says.
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