By Phillip Picardi
ALL PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANTHEA SIMS.
We’ve always said that makeup is art. Now, we have even more proof: The first-ever exhibition to showcase the makeup from the Alexander McQueen runways, appropriately entitled “Warpaint,” will be hitting the Fashion Space Gallery located at London College of Fashion, and run from April 30 to May 7. It coincides with the renowned Savage Beauty exhibit — one that documents the late designer’s full body of work — which is currently showing at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
“London was McQueen’s biggest source of inspiration, so many people have had the privilege to collaborate with him,” explains Polona Dolzan, the show’s curator. “Makeup — whether obscuring or revealing — was an integral part of the overall feel for each show…the beauty looks are so important, and in the scheme of a larger retrospective, intricately considered details like makeup may get a bit lost. The Gallery is a small space that’s perfect for satellite exhibitions, as it can offer a different insight.”
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You may, for example, get lost staring at the silicone masks, decorated with prosthetics, that are meant to imitate the models from the late McQueen’s spring 2010 collection, called Plato’s Atlantis. Or, in a 3-D installation that illustrates the before-and-after transformations of runway models. You can even test out an app that puts the looks on you — butterfly wings, alien bones, and all.
The Gallery has graciously provided Refinery29 with an advanced glimpse of the looks on display, including some created by legendary makeup artist Val Garland. “It all came from him, his point of view. It had to be absolutely specific; he knew when it was just right, when it came as near as possible to his own vision of the look,” says Garland.
Click through to get a sneak peek at the exhibition, and to see the makeup magic that happened during Alexander McQueen’s marvelous time in fashion.
The legendary Topolino adorned the models’ faces for the futuristic “La Poupée” (the doll) spring ‘97 collection.
For La Dame Bleue — McQueen’s spring 2008 collection — Peter Philips adorned the faces with butterfly motifs; an homage to the late Isabella Blow, one of the designer’s friends and muses.
“The 'Girl with a Pearl Earring’ painting by [Johannes] Vermeer was Lee’s inspiration behind this look,” Garland says. “Skullcaps that looked like bandages created an appearance of asylum-trapped women, which worked with the catwalk design… Tape was used to stretch the models’ faces, creating an uncomfortable appearance that was very unnerving. To accentuate this even more, the eyebrows were bleached out. When the light hit the bones on the face, the look of a china doll was complete.”
McQueen’s spring 2010 collection “Plato’s Atlantis” became instantly famous thanks to Lady Gaga, who wore clothes from it in her “Bad Romance” video, and also debuted the hit single at the show. The designer was inspired, he said, by an ecological apocalypse — if humankind evolved from the sea, we would eventually return to it, due to the melting of the ice caps. Prosthetic cheekbones, bizarrely glistening and icy-platinum faces, bleached brows, and nude lips made up the look.
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