Just past the metal detector–laden security checks in Manhattan’s Surrogate Courthouse, a troupe of models was practicing their turns before the guests arrived for Sies Marjan’s Spring show. As the models swirled under the marble arches within the Hall of Records in head-to-toe emerald silks, the house’s designer, Sander Lak, was relaxed, smiling, and quick to talk about how the beauty notes of this season’s runway look were anything but an afterthought. “We don’t start with references or mood boards or inspiration; we start with color,” he shared of his creative process. “It’s like the next level—not only the jackets, the bags, the skirts, the shoes, but also the toenails are all the same and dipped in a really glossy shine.”
Patent-finished color was the string theory of the entire presentation. For the makeup, it played out in artist Nami Yoshida’s lacquered neon red MAC Fashion Legacy lipstick shade. For the nails, it was manicurist Kim D’Amato’s range of 1980s-era Priti organic polish hues in the collection’s tones of yellow, navy, red, and emerald—with a double layer of glossy topcoat. And for the hair, it was stylist Duffy’s low-key hero in the form of one high-shine retro color wash.
“We’ve done what I consider very classic, early-’80s Saint Laurent masculine, structured hair,” Duffy explained. “Loads of product, heavy comb marks, a really low chignon, slightly Helmut Newton–esque—that period of empowered women.” It was part of Lak’s vision as a whole. “He wanted the girls to look a little more polished, a little more refined,” Duffy noted. And for the elevated look, he juxtaposed a drugstore gem: “All the girls with their hair straight back we’ve actually dyed dark with a color mousse. It’s almost old-fashioned.” The glossy chestnut shade came courtesy of Roux Fanci-Full Color Styling Mousse, and at a cool $10 (and change) per can, it’s the kind of insider-approved secret that turns Fashion Week’s hectic backstage scene into a high-low treasure hunt. “It’s what old ladies use on their sets,” Duffy said of the day’s temporary tint job. Instead of a lofty price tag, all that was required for the catwalk slick was a clear vision and easy execution. “On these modern girls in these incredibly beautiful draped fabrics, it gives you the contrast of that very effortless beauty that Sander creates for womenswear,” added Duffy. And in a sea of shows sponsored by luxury products, he understands the freedom of creativity that accessibility can bring. “I use whatever you can find at CVS normally,” he said, laughing. “That’s all I want from life.”
Originally Appeared on Vogue