“New York is the epicenter of individuality,” says editorial hairstylist Bob Recine, weaving a plaited updo at a dizzying speed while backstage at the 2018 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund show inside the Brooklyn Navy Yard. So, too, agrees rising makeup star Jen Myles: “One-size-fits-all beauty no longer exists—and it’s just bigger and better here!” She, like Recine, was tapped to create bespoke looks for the 10 up-and-coming designer finalists competing for the coveted $400,000 prize and industry mentorship.
With each lead artist rising to the challenge, it was hard to decide where to look first. But their kits littered with Rainbow Brite wigs and pigments as proof, it was impossible not to be mesmerized by the kaleidoscope of shocking shades on display. Using MAC’s Technicolor Chromagraphic Pencils and Pigments in spades, Myles traced on graphic wings in cobalt and lilac with diamanté crystal-studded detail for Cardi B favorite Christian Cowan, while slashing on color-blocked lines in shades of neon lemon, tangerine, and fuchsia across the lids for American sportswear go-to Matthew Adams Dolan.
The bolts of color didn’t end there for Dolan, with Recine braiding hyper-vivid extensions into taut, cornrow plaits before turning to cult accessory line Hunting Season’s menagerie of architectural, Vidal Sassoon–inspired wigs, which ran the gamut from acid yellow-streaked bobs to mushroom cuts with punchy, dip-dyed pink ends. And while winner Pyer Moss and menswear label Bode were much more pared back comparatively, each offered up dark lips in romantic, fall-friendly bordeauxs, as well as cool smoky winged flicks. Not to mention, celebrated the beauty of natural hair with Recine enhancing each model’s born-with-it texture and misting it with Tigi Shine Booster for light-catching sheen.
Futuristic design was also a calling card of uninhibited self-expression. With 1948 British dance drama The Red Shoes as her jumping-off point, Myles drew a duo of topographic shapes around the eyes in black and white on some of the girls, while etching a dash of liner along the brow bone in a gradient of jet-black to cherry red on others at Jonathan Cohen. And from the buoyant, iridescent silver-sprayed wigs to the ruddy-cheeked porcelain complexions and white paint-splashed limbs, Luar, which has mastered the art of deconstructed elegance, took ethereal to new levels of avant-garde. But ultimately, it was handmade jewelry brand Scosha that served up the most awe-inspiring wearable art, with Australia-born designer Scosha Woolridge’s intricate aureate pieces hanging from crowns of foliage-covered branches with accents of gold leaf pressed into the inner corners of the eyes.
Furthermore, looking to the past has never felt more fresh. As a tribute to Pina Bausch, Recine reimagined the late choreographer’s signature center-parted rope braid for Cohen, drenching it in hairspray for a “glassy, diamond-like finish.” And then, for full-skirted frock enthusiast Batsheva, the pro whipped up thick Russian doll-like braid crowns fit for the Queens native’s oversize fabric headbands, while putting a modern twist on the classic chignon worn by Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday for statement earring virtuoso Rebecca de Ravenel. And proving that there’s beauty in imperfection now more than ever, Myles created a diffused, soft-focus effect when painting brick red pouts on the De Ravenel girls. “It’s not about perfection,” she says. “Blurring outside the lines just makes things cooler.”