Catwalk Cut: The Beauty of Chris Benz Spring 2013 Monday 24 September, 2012

Spring 2013 backstage beauty alert: Spooky, vacant beauty culled from various muses (Tiny Tim and ghost Geishas!) gives aspirational makeup and hair a boost at Chris Benz.

I am practically skipping up the stairs at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fischer Hall to the backstage at Chris Benz’s Spring 2013 presentation. Why? Because A) breezy ventilation has ensured the air won’t thicken due to heat-tool steam—which has not been the case at one too many backstages this season—and B) the space is open, bright and filled with natural light—the perfect setting for shooting gorgeous models mid-making-up.


So I’m nearly jubilant as I settle in to talk to Lancôme Paris lead makeup artist Daniel Martin, but I become jarred when he throws out the word “spookiness.” For spring makeup? Why, yes: “She’s like a dead geisha from one of the old Japanese horror films,” he explains, noting that the designer’s inspirations—and there are many—range from Tiny Tim to Japanese wood nymphs.


(Two new Lancôme Paris items debut backstage: Balm in Love in Coral Electric and Blush in Love in No. 20 Pommettes D’Amour.)

To rouse this spooky sense, Daniel wraps varying pink tones from Color Design Infinité 24H Eye Shadow in Perpetual Pink and Blush in Love in No. 20 Pommettes D’Amour (available Spring 2013) from the apple to the temple to the eye crease, blending them using a double-ended Cheek and Contour Brush. “The effect is that pale skin and reddish eyes that ghosts have in those horror movies,” he offers.

 Chris-Benz-Spring-2013-Beauty-3  Chris-Benz-Spring-2013-Beauty-9

It’s not all spook and no nymph, though. He lines the lower waterline with eye-brightening white liner so that the girls don’t appear dead and, using a lip brush, fills pouts with Balm in Love in Coral Electric (available Spring 2013), a sheer punch of livening tangerine.


Nails, meanwhile, receive a few coats of Lancôme Vernis in Love nail polish in Beige Dentelle topped with Crystal Quartz.


Now, about that hair: Every angle seems to uncover a new element—and this is all very deliberate, according to Catwalk by TIGI lead hairstylist Nick Irwin. “Everything is based on Chris’s travels to Japan. Over there, Tiny Tim is a cult figure,” he explains of the one inspiration that seems to be the odd man out. “And he saw these zombie-esque vacant girls there that he loved,” he continues. Hence, the specter factor. “He literally had so many references, but I was able to get about four or five of them into the hair look,” Nick laughs.


He begins the style with a zigzag parting, where the zigs and zags are miniscule, yet noticeable. Then, Nick draws upon a childhood trick every girl remembers fondly: He weaves tiny braids around the entire head that he’ll later unfurl to reveal kinked texture. “When I was a kid, the girls I went to school with would do this before they went to bed, and then wake up with this crimped style,” he says. “Of course, we can’t go to bed here, so we’re spraying the braids with Catwalk by TIGI Session Series Work It Hairspray and then running a flat iron over the braids to lock in the ‘crinkle’ and speed up the process!”


Behind each model’s right ear he crafts a larger braid that he’s leaving “as though we forgot it.” After brushing out the smaller plaits, Nick twists a section of hair at the crown into a “warrior” knot and secures it with an elastic.


“All of these little nuances—the part, the forgotten braid—they make it interesting,” Nick concludes. “It’s a little bit weird and dark, sure, but it’s still pretty.”

Fearless Beauty Quotient (scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most fearless): 9. Not many women, aside from those vacant zombie girls Chris encountered on his travels, actively seek “spooky” makeup, though pink as an eye shadow is shaping up to be a top spring 2013 trend. Keeping the color concentrated on only the top lid should zap the “horror film” from this look. As for the hair: So many elements in one style is certainly a fearless approach, but losing a few while keeping others is definitely the way to go. Try out the zigzag part for a down-style pick-me-up or even go old-school with un-braided crinkles.

Which beauty element of the Chris Benz beauty look would you try?

Karie L. Frost Signature

(All images property of L. Frost)


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