Backstage DKNY: A Conceptual Look

image We’re back in the NYFW swing of things. Backstage at DKNY we talked to some of our favorite beauty veterans and got the scoop on the conceptual beauty look they created. From the cobweby hat-hair created by Eugene Soueliman to Yadim's quirky graphic eye. See how they created these memorable runway looks.


Textured Cobweby Hat Hair

“We’re doing a hairstyle that’s as if a hat has been on it and it’s squished down," explains lead Wella hairstylist, Souleiman. And the key to getting this sans hat? Tension, which he created by French braiding two sections of hair beginning behind the ear and bring it down the back of the hairline. Then, using the small end of the back of a comb, he pulled out a thin layer on both sides along the center part, brushed them until full of static, giving the cobweb texture. After spraying them with dry spray, the static hair hung as a veil over the sleeked down flat hair. To keep it pressed down while backstage, the girls wore bandanas while finishing up backstage.


Quirky DIY-Looking Graphic Eye 

“When I talked to the team they said they wanted something quirky and eccentric,” Maybelline lead make artist Yadim explains. Well, he nailed it with the imperfect non-straight line around the eye replicating a shape found on the fabric on a piece in the collection. “It was a bit of a flower print but you wouldn’t really know it because it’s so abstract,” he explained.

Interested in how he created this squiggly graphic eye? He drew the lines using Maybelline Master Precise and Master Graphic, meeting the top and bottom on the outside corner. "You can't make a mistake because it's done purposefully." To get the lines this perfectly imperfect, smear them out with a makeup wipe and then go around and cleaned it up with a dry Q-tip. It still will leave the squiggly effect without initially creating it on purpose.

"The Fast Pass" Mani 

Keeping with the conceptual, DIY theme, lead Essie manicurist Michel Saunders gave each model what she called "The Fast Pass," manicure. It's simply one swipe of nude-colored polish called "All Eyes On Nudes" down the center of the nail. Also looking as if the model quickyldid it herself. "Leaving a little bit of the sides out to show that it's ok to be imperfect," explains Saunders.

Why Nail Art Will Never Die

Something different was happening with nail art this season during New York Fashion Week and I'm not talking about innovative looks.  The tables have turned.  Instead of manicurists trying to sell their art to designers during beauty tests before the runway shows, designers were requesting specific types of nail art to manicurists.  They were asking for classic styles like half moon manicures and 3D textures, which can only prove one thing.  Nail art is not a trend, but a style that's here to stay.  

Backstage I grabbed Michelle Saunders, a Lead Manicurist for Essie who was responsible for 11 of the 27 shows Essie sponsored this season to chat about how nail art has changed.  "This season it's all about the sophisticated and modern nail and when it comes to nail art, Essie stays fresh by just using polish to create different effects and textures," she commented.

Keeping the nails classic, using just polish definitely makes for a sophisticated aesthetic.  "We don't need to explain the looks anymore," she says.  "Designers get it."  From a reverse French to a French, mixing shades to create a customized color and creating effects through polish is chic and timeless.

"It's more of a look than a trend, like red lipstick," she concludes.

For the ultimate NYFW nail art photo gallery, check out PopSugarBeauty.

Essie Gels Are Making A Lasting Impression

When I announced on Instagram that Essie was launching a gel polish you all went nuts!  Now, I see why.  Normally, I opt for regular manicures, but the past two times I tested out the new gels.  Tough job, but somebody's gotta do it!  Seriously though, (and I say this as I stare down at my shiny, perfectly polished tips), I may be converting.  Here's the scoop.

The first time I tried the gels I wanted to see purely how long they would last since I've tried all of the other gels and wanted to compare.  I chose my staple Wicked-like color.  To be fair, thanks to my anxiety, I pick and eat off my polish.  With gels of different brands in the past when I was good about not eating them off (gross!) they normally last me about a week  to ten days.  Then, they'd begin to peel on the bottom corners and naturally, I'd attack them.

My first Essie gel manicure lasted ten days.  I was impressed (as was my fiancé and anyone who knew me).  Then, I began picking.  The next time, I chose a shade that corresponds with Russian Roulette called Bank Roll.  Yes, you can match the shade of gel polish to your favorite corresponding Essie polish through a color wheel, which I feel is crucial!

I will say my manicurist the past two times has been phenomenal, as I truly believe that the way the gels are applied have everything to do with them lasting – light layers. The new Essie gel polish collection comes in 36 shades and uses an LED lamp.


Backstage Beauty Report: Naeem Khan A 1920's Inspired Look Worth Talking About

Each year throughout my coverage of NYFW I can't wait to go backstage and get a look.  A look, meaning something worth talking about.  While every backstage glam squad has reasoning for 'leaving the hair down, straight and parted in the middle' or 'keeping the face fresh' for the runway, as a beauty journalist, it's boring!  Backstage at Naeem Khan today I saw a stunning 1920's inspired beauty look that left me in awe.

Bumble and Bumble created a beautifully structured, chignon with sheen and Essie's lead manicurist, Michelle Saunders layered two oldie but goodies, Licorice and Bordeaux to create a devil red shade that had more black than red to compliment the 1920's inspiration.

"The clothes have a lot of color and texture and the hair has a beautiful sheen, so I didn't want the makeup to have anything glossy, James Boehmer the Director of Global Artistry for NARS.  "It would be too much, so we played with other textures."

The look had a decadent feeling of the 1920's, focusing the strength on the brows.  Using NARS's new mechanical pencil (coming out in fall), Boehmer defined the brow shape and then layered Coconut Grove shadow over them, which is a very deep brown, to set it.  "I'm following the shape of the brows and then extending out and down forgetting about the arch," he commented.  "I don't want to make it high, but straight and low so it has a '20's feel and not a '90's feel."

Two coats of Larger Than Life Volumizing Mascara and a bit of smudged shadow lining the bottom rims finished the eyes.  Inspired by the diffusion of the light in 1920's films, he shaded the cheeks to create a shadow and illuminated the corner of the eye with an eyeshadow shade called Alhambra Duo Eyeshadow.  Using the same color, he highlighted the bow of the lip like a thumbprint.   A dust of Zen Blush was swept on the apples of the models cheeks to give them a kick.

Zac Posen Backstage Beauty Report: Deconstructed Chignons with Aubergine Lips & Tips

There's nothing classier and more New York than attending a Zac Posen fashion show.  It was the first show I've ever attended in my six plus year career in beauty and the one show I'll never miss covering backstage beauty.  This season, the show was held at the Palace Hotel's Terrace Room.  Picture crystal chandeliers lining the runway, intricate paintings on the backstage ceiling, mirrors lining the walls and famous models like Crystal Renn.  Artists from John Frieda, MAC and Essie created a look that a complete contradiction from last year. "There's a lot of construction in the clothes so we wanted to make sure the hair was relaxed," explained Luigi Murenu, John Frieda's Global Creative Consultant. "We wanted to create an art deco, 2013 chignon with volume and personality."

Before drying or in some cases, on dry hair he combed John Frieda Luxurious Volume, Volume Building Mousse through the hair to build up the hairs texture and bring it to life.  Once dry, the team began crimping the top of the hair in a "clap, clap, clap" way so the iron didn't leave an imprint on the hair, but just made it look "as if they had more hair."  Keeping volume on the top, he flattened out and tightened the sides, sealing them with a serum, and secured a ponytail at the nape of the neck.  Separating the pony into two sections, he twisted them around each other and pinned it up into a deconstructed chignon.  The key pieces were two side fly aways that were purposely pulled out and crimped to give the look a sense of lightness.

Kabuki, the lead makeup artist for MAC Cosmetics, was inspired by the snow falling outside during the makeup trial and explained how the makeup was "minimal and snowy in the eye, but brought back into the jewel colors of the collection by doing a rich, burgundy stained lip."

The skin was highlighted and eyes were soft, but the lip was special.  "The look needed a moment of a strong moment, which brings out the dellicatecy of the eye," Kabuki stated.  To create the lip look, he first used Vino Lip Liner to define the outer shape and applied lip balm only to the center of the lips.  This prevents the color from spreading.  Then, taking a single tissue, he touched it to the lip and put loose powder through it to set the pencil without changing the color.  Finally, he applied Lip Mix in Burgundy to the center of the lip and thinned it out as it got closer to the outer corner.  "This way, you don't have to worry about color bleeding or running, but you still have the dense coverage in the middle," he concluded.

"When you put a dark lip with a dark nail it keeps it really dramatic and gives it a bit of an edge," comments an Essie manicurist.  The shade used was Carri On, which is their darkest aubergine.

Top Models, Rich Girl Hair and Mega Lashes Backstage at Zac Posen

This season I'm only covering a few shows, my favorites.  Being my favorite designer, I jumped at the opporunity to go backstage to Zac Posen again this year as some of my career highlights have been with him including my first fashion show and a private meet and greet with the designer himself at his show room (see post).  Unbelievable.  And I'll tell you, no one knows 'rich girl hair' like him.  Here's my experience this year, through photos.

Some of the models hair was colored prior to the show with John Frieda's Precision Foam Hair Color to pump up or down their color for added shine.  "Rich girl hair is all about texture, solid color shine," remarked Harry Josh, John Frieda colorist.  "It creates an expensive look."

Inspired by lounge singer, Lena Horne, the look represented a strong, yet delicate socialite.

Top models walked in the show including Coco RochaNaomi Campbell and Karolina Kurkova.

Essie used shades ranging in depth to match all of the models skin tones to elongate the hands. Shades used: Glamour Purse, Brooch the Subject, A Crewed Interest and Not Just A Pretty Face.

"Because we're working with various skintones, we wanted to do something equally flattering to everyone, so we went with a strong lash look by using two pairs of lashes intergrated on each girl," commented Kabuki, the lead makeup artist from MAC cosmetics."

Nail Trend: Introducing The New Pastel

One of the biggest trends this Spring is donning pastel tips, but pastel has undergone a makeover.  The crop of pastels I'm falling in love with this season are much more sophisticated than those of Cadbury Egg Minis (which after this weekend, I should be in rehab for).  From pistachio and cotton candy to lilac, lemon and eggshell blue, I just can't get enough and that's rare for a girl who always wears dark colors. When I received the Spring 2012 Dolce & Gabbana collection in the mail I flipped over the polishes.  Of course, the cosmetics are gorgeous, but these lacquers were my first introduction into the new pastel.  They're milky pastels and after applying, it looks as if you painted a white coat of polish underneath the pastel shade to make it pop.

The first thing that caught my attention about Rococo Nail Apparel's Spring 2012 collection was the packaging.  It's special and I think there's nothing better than getting a beautifully packaged set of beauty products.  Like the Dolce & Gabbana shades, the pastels are also creamy.

While these polishes may be a bit pricey, it's nice to treat yourself once in a while.  Of course, there are other options!  Here are some of my other favorite pastels by Essie and OPI that you can find in your local nail salon and will keep you on trend: Essie in Mint Candy Apple, Essie in Play Date, OPI in Do You Lilac It and OPI in Pink Friday.

I Got A Mani with Essie Weingarten of Essie Cosmetics

This morning I had the opportunity to get a mani and sip a mimosa with none other than Essie Weingarten, (yes, the Essie herself who founded the mass polish line you're probably wearing on your fingers right now) at an event for Glamour magazine at Tenoverten in Tribeca.  We talked about her fave polishes, where she gets her weekly manis and how she comes up with all of those names! Her new winter collection, Bling It On, has a color called "Size Matters," and when asked about where the name came from Essie commented, "I don't know where your head is, but I was thinking about diamonds!"  When naming her polishes, sometimes she starts with the name of the collection in general and creates names for the individual polishes afterwards, but sometimes she'll come up with a great polish name and develop a whole collection around it. In this case, had the theme in mind first.

When we were discussing our favorite Essie colors of all times, (mine being Wicked obvi), she said she doesn't have a favorite color, but one holds a special place in her heart because of what it did for the line – Ballet Slippers.  Once she received a letter on proper stationary from the Queen of England herself requesting to purchase the polish.  Then in The Devil Wears Prada, Meryl Streep (Anna Wintour) claims, "If you work at Vogue you must paint your nails with one coat Ballet Slippers and one coat Marshmallow."  The attention that one shade continues to draw from around the world helps to make Essie polishes a constant go-to.

Finally, I had to know where the Queen of Nail Lacquers gets her nails done!  The answer – Samuel Shriqui Salon on the Upper East Side.  Word has it even Julia Roberts goes there!  I'm going to have to pay a visit!

Navy is the New Black

You've heard it once, you've heard it twice.  This is the new black, that's the new black, but really ladies – navy is the new black.  At least when it comes to nail polish.  High shine navy manicures are it for fall. If you're anything like me you've been wearing a slew of dark polishes on your tips from Chanel Black Satin to OPI Lincoln Park After Dark, but this Fall in case you haven't noticed, already in your local nail salon are Essie in Bobbing for Baubles and OPI in Road House Blues – two perfect navys.

My favorite right now is by Creative Nail Design called Midnight Sapphire. It's a very inky navy that resembles a an ink mark a dark felt tip blue marker would leave behind.

Essie's New Winter Collection: Bling It On

Allow me to introduce Bling It On by Essie.  In the beginning of October you'll be seeing these jewel toned shades (think rubies, emeralds and sapphires) popping up at your favorite nail salon.  Yes ladies, another choice will be added to your important weekly decision! Shades include: Cocktail Bling (pale gray), Bobbing For Baubles (deep blue), Size Matters (ruby red), Brooch The Subject (cashmere), School of Hard Rocks (deep, bright green and my favorite) and Bangle Jangle (lavender).

I'm typically not the girl who chooses a color from the latest collections as an almost black like Essie's Luxedo or reddish tinged black like Wicked are two of my go-to's, but I am anxious to start wearing more fun holiday inspired shades with the new season.

Haute Trend: Color Blocked Nails

When I get my weekly mani, I normally play it safe and get a purple tinged black hue, like Essie in Luxedo, that I feel comfortable wearing. I think dark colors look chic on my short nails, and complement anything I wear. This week, I stepped out of the box and played with nail polish—even my manicurist questioned my choice! I decided to make my nails pop and play them up as my main accessory with Essie in Haute as Hello and painting only my ring fingers with Essie in Too Too Hot. Being that the two polishes are both warm-toned, I like the way it works. It’s definitely a conversation starter!

New Spring Shades from Butter London

Normally when I go get manis and pedis I very rarely bring my own shade.  (Mostly due getting them randomly on the go and forgetting to put my color in my bag.) Therefore, I'm always forced to choose between a wall of OPI and Essie colors, which don't get me wrong, I love, but in the wonderful world of nail color, there's so much more out there – like Butter London for instance. I first discovered Butter London a few seasons ago backstage at NY Fashion Week and was introduced to the Creative Director, Nonie Creme.  This Spring, Nonie was inspired by impressionist style prints that graced the Spring/Summer 2011 runways and created a palette that she calls "muted/greige."

“There is a strong move toward ‘retro’ colours this season, with many designers looking at Halston era glamour and style. This collection is all about “pops” of colour that feel unique and edgy but relevant – our trademark," Nonie commented.

The colors include Lady Muck (greyish periwinkle), Dosh (molton apple green), Teddy Girl (pale retro bubble gum), Hen Party (sheer opal, which I like as a top coat) and Blagger (cobalt blue).

Duri's New Fall Polish Collection

I love Duri polishes.  Every time I go to the salon my options are limited to OPI or Essie. Not that that's a completely bad thing, because they do have great shades, but there are so many other brands out there who make fabulous colors that are not to be over looked – like Duri. I recently received their fall collection and was so eager to test them out that I painted each of my nails a different color.  Called "Angels and Demons" colors are named Angelic Dust, Seven Heavens, Sacred Quest, Paradise Lost, Path of Light and Wickedly Devine.  My favorites are Seven Heaven – a deep magenta – and Sacred Quest – a metallic brown.

I've been a fan of Duri polishes ever since I tried their Rejuvacote on my brittle nails.  After experimenting with Creative upon removal.  This potion revitalized them and brought them back to life.  My advice: don't get in a rut and always stick to what's offered in your local nail salon for manis and pedis.  There are may other polish companies that make quality polishes with trendy shades.

Essie Embraces the NY Yankees

I'm so excited for baseball season, as a dedicated Yankee fan I'm looking forward to attending the games, but as you may already assume, yes, I'm in it more for the fun than the love of the game itself.  If you're a die hard Yankees fan or just a gal like me who doesn't mind having a few beers in the stadium behind short stop, (best view in the house), you can show your team
appreciation for these champs with your manicure.

According to the 
Daily News, Essie changed the names of two colors in honor of No. 20, Jorge Posada. A 
bottle of white newly named "Posada Pettitte Connection" and a navy blue called "Midnight Cami" is now called "Bronx Bombers."  Why you ask?  Essie took notice to the fact that Posada paints his nails with Wite-Out to help pitcher, Andy Pettitte, see 
his signs.

Sorry Mets fans, looks like we won't be seeing any colors honoring 
Johan Santana or the delectable David Wright any time soon, or hopefully ever.

Nailing in the Nude

Among this season’s prettiest and most attainable runway trends comes in the form of a tiny glass bottle containing a liquid in a lovely, modest shade: nude nail polish.  Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors both had their models sport nude nails on the catwalk.  For quite a while now, we have loved our vernis to make a statement, and to make it loud and clear. But perhaps a more subtle approach would better suit the more mature and refined looks coming down the runway as of recent, from vamp to nautical to safari.  After all, the bold nail does sometimes end up dictating our outfits (what really matches with shimmery aqua nail polish?).

The nude nail gives you the advantage of looking put together and polished (pun intended!).  It doesn’t scream, “Look over here!” Rather, it whispers, “…but even if you do, I’m prepared!”  There are a variety of shades that you can experiment with, from sheer pinks and flesh tones to ivories and peaches.  Even clear polish, light grays, or naked and beautifully buffed nails are fair game. Any of these options will be certain to give you a grown-up finish and let the true you shine through. So ladies, lacquer up and tone it down!

My top picks for the season: Chanel Inattendu, Essie Fed Up, Deborah Lippmann Im Not Innocent