I have had the pleasure of reviewing Carmen Marc Valvo’s last five Fashion Week collections, and I’ve had the good fortunate to have been invited backstage for most of them. This has given me an opportunity to see the designer’s fashion in an up-close-and-personal way, and to appreciate the artistry and care that goes into each and every one of these special event and “red carpet ready” pieces.
Before a runway show can be ready for the spotlight, the models must be transformed by hair, nails and makeup. For hair, lead hair stylist Odile Gilbert for Redken 5th Avenue gave a two word answer when I asked her the vision for this season’s show. She said: “chic and simple.” The elegant, braided bun she created looks to be part Heidi, part Helmut Newton, part Robert Palmer Girl . I’ve seen so many sleek buns this week, and this one was no exception — super-sleek and shiny, flat against the head in the front, and with all the interest and texture in the back. This type of style focuses all the attention on your face and gown as you walk into the room, but when you walk away, the elegant twists and updos of your hair gives an interesting view, and it can stand up well to this season’s plunging and draped backlines.
For Carmen Marc Valvo’s show, the model’s hair was smoothed with Redken #16 Hardware, a super-strong gel that adds control and lots of shine. In some cases, extra help to straighten and smooth hair was given with a glamorous new flat iron by Linea Pro that was ready for it’s own closeup, completely studded completely with glittering, Swarovski Crystals. After hair was smoothed, put into a ponytail, and made into two braids, it was twisted and held in a braided “bun” thanks to a hidden barette. Finally, lots of Redken Workforce #09 working spray and also Force Field# 23 (the strongest holding spray Redken makes) were added as necessary. TIP TO DO-IT-YOURSELF-ERS: Odile has often told me that truly polished updos and chignons really require a good stylist (and at least an extra pair of hands). You can approximate the style with the Redken products I’ve described…if it’s not as neat and slick as the ones Odile created for the show, well….a slightly less perfect style is also a fashionable for Fall, so you’ll be fine!
Here is model Katie in finished hair (from the front) and the eye-catching makeup look. I spoke to John Stapleton, Senior Artist for the MAC Pro Team about the makeup. As you can see, this look is all about the lips. The face is matte (or at least powdered as a finishing touch), and the eyes are lightly done, as are the brows. But the lipstick is a magenta red (Russian Red) that is so vibrant and strong, you can’t help but stare at the model’s lips. FOR DO IT YOURSELF-RS: This blue-based red color might not work well with everyone’s skin tone. John Stapleton suggests that women pick a red lipstick for Fall, but get the one that is best for them. Use a pencil to line, color in the lips, and then fill in with your new, red lipstick. He also urges women to try different versions of red instead of leaving the decision to the makeup artist at the counter, because everyone’s vision of what “red” is, can be very different. Once you have found your perfect red you can and will wear this bold color with confidence! He also urges women to ask questions at the makeup counter, and ask for a hand mirror so you can see the makeup artist applying the colors….if you don’t, you will not be able to re-create the look as well, at home.
This season featured fur, feathers (ostriches and pheasants, and even on evening pumps–these by Carmen Marc Valvo), and lots of fabulousness for his high profile clients. But the gowns were less glittery in terms of sequins, rhinestones and beads, and got their glamour instead from lace, fur, feathers, and beautifully-constructed details such as a crisp cascades of ruffles –doesn’t it look like a black bird of paradise flower? . There was also a lot of illusion netting to add a sexy and glamorous lingerie touch to the bodice, and elegant, draping, too. And, when it comes to accessories, Carmen Marc Valvo included many details, including long gloves, feather-trimmed cloches with wide brims that were worn even with evening gowns, as were some items from his new eyeglass collection. The red specs worn with a red evening gown had myopic ladies, silently cheering from their seats. Could four eyes be more chic than two, this year?
The tent is very dark and if you’re not one of the A-listers sitting close to the catwalk, photography can be challenging. Here are two of my personal photos. ,The white gown on the model in the photo below to the right, had the most amazing strapless treatment, with a stiff ruffle on the front that looked like a small dove with one outstretched wing reaching out from the gown in a demure wave.