Catwalk Cut: Backstage Beauty at Prabal Gurung Fall 2013 Monday 18 February, 2013

Women’s empowerment across several cultures gives beauty a beating heart at Prabal Gurung Fall 2013.

At Prabal Gurung, perhaps the most inspiring inspiration of the season abounded: Prabal centers his collection around women’s empowerment, and what that means across several cultures—from the recent decision to open combat positions to female troops in the U.S. to Ukrainian female fighters challenging human trafficking. To hear the backstory retold by each of beauty leads reinforces just how empowering that idea is when applied to hair, makeup and nails.

Nail art, which naturally takes some chutzpah to wear, is found on fingertips. “We want a design that shows power and strength, but also some vulnerability,” says manicurist Jin Soon Choi of the nail look.

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(Prabal’s inspiration board centers around women’s empowerment globally.)

To signify strength, she paints a sharp, graphic chevron, yet to bring in the femininity she’s seeking, she whittles the chevron’s shape into a skinny, more slight triangle. “It’s more dramatic than the typical nail art chevron,” Jin Soon shares.

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Because painting chevrons can be a little tricky (for example: Yours truly often finds the apex of her triangle off-center—an uber-frustrating detail that makes me not want to paint chevron nail art), I’m needling Jin Soon on how she got those chevrons so darn perfect. First, she lacquers nails in one coat of Prabal Gurung for Sally Hansen Coat of Arms (available Fall 2013), a flaxen gold. Then, she polishes Prabal Gurung for Sally Hansen Loden Green (available Fall 2013) in a diagonal swipe from the moon to the tip on both sides, creating her thin chevron. She admits you may need two coats of this army green polish to zero-out the gold underneath, but the end result appears as though you hand-painted your chevron perfectly. (Note to self: Trying this at home.)

“I really think that for 2013 nail art is all about the chevron. So why not make it different?” Jin Soon concludes, pointing to the ultra-thin triangles. Yes; why not?

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For the hair, hairstylist Paul Hanlon is the lead, and I’m always enamored with his long descriptions of exactly what lead him to his end game. I know that he’ll run with the “women empowerment” angle—and he does. Paul takes his cue from the Ukrainian fighters mentioned in Prabal’s key inspiration, noting, “They’re hardcore; they’re very active women. They wouldn’t care about having their hair done.” He likens them to the modern-day gym goer; she’s not going to fuss over her hair; she knows she’s going to be sweating out her aggressions, and she often simply throws up her hair to keep it out of the way.

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The same holds true here: Such an active, empowered woman would sport a quick, spontaneous hairstyle—something she tosses up out of necessity. To lend hair a weathered, lived-in appeal, Paul preps hair with Schwarzkopf Professional Osis+ Grip Volume Extreme Hold Mousse. “Then, we’re power-drying the hair,” he says. Each girl’s entire head receives a full bottle of Osis+ Dust It Mattifying Powder, which makes hair “very powdery, matte and pliable. It’s like she’s been sleeping outside and now has this wild texture,” Paul explains.

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For that organic, spontaneous feel, he uses his fingers to rake hair back into a ponytail, ties the tail into various “shoelace knots,” and then sprays the entire look with Osis+ Elastic Flexible Hold Hairspray. As a final subtle detail, Hanlon blasts the hairline with a blow dryer so that the girls appear “aerodynamic. It looks like a photograph of a woman caught in motion,” he explains.

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For makeup, the approach is less severe. Makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury conjures a fresh-faced look that appears as though the girls “have been out in the country air,” she says. Skin receives a light touch, with MAC Studio Finish Concealer applied only where needed. Charlotte creates a youthful flush in a roundabout, interesting way: First, she dabs equal parts This is Autumn, Red Statement and Rich New Mood lip hues from the MAC Fall 2013 Forecast Lip Palette onto the top of the cheek using her fingertips and then blending outward. To make the cheek “ruddier,” she brushes on MAC Paint Stick in Deep Brown to “cut down the pinks and blue—it’s more natural-looking.” (Who knew?) Eyelids are accented with Deep Brown Paint Stick and lips kept practically bare with a blotting of MAC Lip Conditioner. “This is a gorgeous look to juxtapose with Prabal’s strong, military female,” Charlotte explains.

And there you have it: the beauty of today’s empowered woman.

Which aspect of the Prabal Gurung Fall 2013 beauty look do you love best? Sound off in the comments!

Karie L. Frost Signature

(All images property of FearNoBeauty.com)

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