the Insiders


September 12, 2008 5:34 PM


Beauty's Backstage Whirl

A model backstage at Proenza Schouler.Photo by Kyle Ericksen Ever wondered what it would be like to step foot backstage at a New York fashion show? If you're "on the list," a black-clad young woman wearing a designer dress...

A model backstage at Proenza Schouler.
Photo by Kyle Ericksen
Ever wondered what it would be like to step foot backstage at a New York fashion show?

If you're "on the list," a black-clad young woman wearing a designer dress and a headset will dangle a backstage pass in your direction. Mind the wires, stiletto-wearing onlookers, overdone TV personalities and the TV cameras (one false turn, and you'll get clocked in the head). Angling your way into the crowd and toward the lead hairstylist and makeup artist is not for the faint of heart, or the meek. 
Adrenaline is usually pumping by now, as you circle around the VIPs impatiently waiting to swoop in at the first opportunity -- maybe an exhausted sigh, or a move toward the free sandwiches.

At the Proenza Schouler show this season, I couldn't help but feel sympathy for MAC Cosmetics makeup artist Diane Kendal as cameras coiled around her, shining a flood of bright light on her and the silent and still model she was working on. Microphones prodded closer. I felt a subtle pang of guilt as I stood there standing along side my own camera crew -- waiting to swoop. But the chaos feeds energy.

Standing on a floor strewed with the remnants of colorful synthetic wigs used at the Betsey Johnson show, Redken stylist Italo Gregario was radiating energy, lingering a tad longer to chat about the hairstyle of the moment: the sharply angled bob. "The bob is very chic, but women don't like to have their necks out."

Then there is the one hairstylist who flatly refused to be interrupted as he toiled away.

Scan the room and it seems nearly everyone got up too early, are wearing heels that are too high and are counting down the days until the end of the week.

Models, though stunning, are the most unassuming. They occasionally chitchat with a pal or on a cell phone, but mostly their heads are downward (as makeup artists dab color on their faces and hairstylists pull, tug and tease), staring blankly at their iPhones and BlackBerries. One model takes puffs of a cigarette as a hairstylist straightens her hair.

I can't help but think of the beer being served in the MAC Backstage Lounge. My last show, I'll grab one for sure. But first I have to figure out how to weasel my way backstage at Calvin Klein. Earlier in the day, I got an e-mail from Calvin's beauty p.r. person stating, "Backstage is closed....They won't be allowing anyone off the list in."

Heavy sigh.

But for all its quirks and chaos, no beauty editor would dare miss fashion week, nor would she want to.

For more backstage beauty from New York Fashion Week, click here.
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