Before heading backstage for Fashion Week shows, I must take a deep breath and emotionally, mentally, and spiritually prepare myself for being a sardine. Usually, the models are set up at hair and makeup stations basically shoulder to shoulder in a small, narrow space. I have to squeeze through tight rows to get a peek at them. Everyone inevitably gets in the way of each other. Before the pandemic, the cramped chaos thrilled me. Now, just thinking about it makes me cringe.
Slowly but surely, fashion shows are happening again. The Dior Cruise 2021 show, for instance, took place today, July 22. An audience wasn't physically in attendance, but people watched through their screens as 47 models walked a runway set up in the Piazza del Duomo in Lecce, Italy.
And as the lead makeup artist for the show (and the creative and image director for Dior Makeup), Peter Philips, tells a group of beauty editors, including myself, over Zoom, "Where there's a model, there will be a backstage."
Although I couldn't see how COVID-19 has transformed the backstage experience firsthand, Philips explained it with as much detail as he could from a quiet white-walled room inside the Bishop's Palace. Before doing so, he notes hygiene has always been crucial to his job. "We touch people's faces all the time," he adds. "It's key to be ultra-careful. In this situation, we push it to the extreme."
Makeup artists were outfitted in masks and face shields to work with models set up at social-distanced stations. "I can tell you, it's not easy," Philips said. "When you wear glasses and the shield, everything fogs up. In the shield, you see all the reflections."
Each of the models had their own set of products, including brushes, pre-labeled with their names. Hand sanitizer was set up everywhere. Temperatures were taken every time anyone entered and exited the building.
Philips created a simple-yet-stunning look for the models that was so quick and easy to complete that even you could ace it. "It's not intimidating. There are no special tricks. The scariest part of the whole thing is curling the lashes," he says. "It's a look that fits [everyone]."
To achieve the models' "radiant without being blinding" complexion, as Philips puts it, he started off with prepping their skin with The Dior Capture Totale C.E.L.L. Energy Super Potent Age-Defying Intense Serum and Firming & Wrinkle-Correcting Cream. It helped give them a hydrated shine without greasiness. Because it's the Backstage Face & Body Primer was slathered on to help lock a "fine layer" of the Backstage Face & Body Foundation in place.
For the eyes, Philips curled the models' lashes before swiping on a new reformulation of the Diorshow Iconic Overcurl Mascara, which launches in September. It has a natural effect, Philips says. Defined the brows with a brow pencil to add structure to the glowy look.
Although fashion shows are moving to virtual formats, Philips points out they aren't ceasing to exist. They are just adapting to the circumstances in the context of the routine Fashion Week calendar. "There will always be shows somewhere, but if people don't want to do shows, they can find an alternative," he explains. "It actually pushes creativity to find a new way to communicate.… I think we will grow from this. That's what it's all about: evolution." But no matter what, as long as there are models, there will be a backstage.
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Read more about how COVID-19 is changing the beauty industry:
Now, watch Philips create bold looks for Billy Porter's Allure cover shoot:
Originally Appeared on Allure