Thursday, October 16, 2014

A MARRIAGE MADE IN HEAVEN


It was my privilege to attend the wedding of my astrology teacher and mentor Adam Elenbaas and the gorgeous Ashley Litecky, a master yoga instructor and herbalist, at the lush and pastoral Caboose Farm in Maryland this past weekend.  I was honored to do the bride’s hair and makeup, but the takeaway from the ceremony was so enlightening that I feel like it was an immersion into a higher form of spiritual living then a destination wedding.  Everything, from the setting to the astrologically auspicious timing, was so thought out and intended.  If Gwyneth and Chris can call their separation “conscious uncoupling” then Adam and Ashley’s wedding was a great example of “higher consciousness coupling.”


Of course, with Mercury being retrograde, the weather was mercurial.  The day started with pouring rain, then miraculously the sun peeked through just as the orchestra commenced and the ceremony was about to begin.  The musical selections were so apt: everything from music from “The Hobbit” to the title theme from “Game of Thrones.”  The ceremony itself was an amazing hybrid of traditions performed by Dr. Chris King, an Episcopalian minister who studied theology at the University of Oxford, combining Christian ritual with astrological references.   The exact timing of the ceremony was enacted as the sun became conjunct in Libra, a sign ruled by the planet Venus, representing the goddess of love and harmonious partnership.   During the ceremony, Ashley and Adam planted rue and tobacco seeds, botanicals they felt spiritually akin to in the shamanic tradition.   I was particularly inspired by the readings from Khahil Gibran and James Hillman by their close friends Eric Favela and Lisa Scot during the proceedings.

Yet, despite all the higher consciousness, the vibe was Boho chic, down to earth and grounded.  Ashley, looking like Venus herself straight out of Botticelli’s “Birth of Aphrodite” kept it real by wearing boots that looked like Doc Martins under her long strapless gown!  Of course, Venus was the inspiration for Ashley’s look that day---cascades of tousled, beachy waves combined with luminous skin.   She created a fabulous Pinterest board of hair and makeup ideas, which was an invaluable road map for me to help create her vision.  Weddings are such important recorded benchmarks in our lives, so it’s important to do the work necessary to bring the bride’s aspirations to life and make their dreams a reality.   Ashley’s hair is naturally straight and silken fine, so it can be hard to keep texture and curl through-out the day.  This is a common dilemma that I’ve learned to overcome with a trifecta of tried-and-true products.   If you want how I kept her waves from wedding crashing, as well as a step-by-step to achieve her golden glow makeup, see below.

Of course, it’s not only the bride that needs to look their best.  I was so happy when the groom decided to wear his long blonde hair down for the ceremony, putting it up in a bun to dance away the evening.   Seeing them both standing there, exchanging their vows with such thoughtful intention and receiving their blessings and well wishes for their honeymoon in Belize, they looked like the new Adam and Eve.  Paradise Found!


_______________________________________________________________________________

EVERLASTING BRIDAL BEAUTY:

All wedding looks take patience to achieve.  You need to carefully budget your time, applying makeup in between setting and working in the right sequence so you don’t have to waste time fixing smudges or smears. 


For her hair:   The foremost thing fine hair needs is to add texture and weight before styling.   To do this, hair should be already washed and dried.  Separate into small sections, dousing each section with a combination of thickening and texturizing sprays (I use Oribe’s genius Dry Texturizing Spray combined with Philip B.’s Imperial Royal Amber Insta-Thick.)  Once hair is thoroughly saturated, twist the section with your fingers and wrap the twist around a cone shaped curling iron, the kind that is thicker at the base and narrows towards the tip (I use one from T3), keeping the ends out, leaving them straight.  Pull the curl carefully off the iron to create a pin curl.  Douse this with a strong hair spray (I use L’Oreal’s Elnet) then pin to the head.  Once the hair is fully set, give it another good swoosh of spray (don’t light a match!) and let it dry while starting makeup. 

For her makeup, Ashley wanted to look natural, but with a touch of golden goddess.  To do this, I first moisturize skin with Argan oil.  This is an important step:  if skin is dry and dehydrated, it will soak up the foundation, making it disappear before you say “I do.”  While skin is absorbing the moisturizer, I start on eyes, so I can clean up any flakes before starting the foundation.   I covered the whole lid with Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Half Baked, then layered Illamasqua black cream shadow over black pencil liner on the upper lids.  I highlighted the inside corners of the eyes with a pale gold shadow from Illamasqua as well and defined the crease with a deeper bronze cream shadow, such as MAC’s Bronze Frost. 

All brides fear mascara on their wedding day, afraid they will cry and look like something out of a John Water’s movie.  I use just enough to help grip the individual fake lashes I attach, stroking on top of the lashes, not underneath.  Then, apply small clusters of lashes in a variety of small to medium flares…nothing too fake looking. 

Once eyes are done, you can create a luminous golden all-over glow.  I mix several liquids together to achieve this, mixing a thin veil of a fair shade with a darker tone (I used a Becca foundation in a lighter tone mixed with Kevyn Aucoin’s Liquid Airbrush #13 for Ashley.)  Apply all over the face, making sure it is blended down the neck and through the ear area.  I highlight the cheekbones and eyes with a luminizing foundation (As I’ve mentioned in earlier blogs, Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk Foundation for this).  On cheeks, I used a layered MAC’s Bamboo blush over Guerlain’s mosaic Terracotta bronzer.  Then, it was time for the real magic:  Tom Ford’s Gold Dust Bronzer dusted all over the face to make the skin glow.  Lips for this look should be kept real simple:   Swipe a creamy pink over lips (like MAC’s Snob), and keep applying throughout the day, rather than using a drying long-lasting formula.  Ashley armed herself with a couple of tubes and reapplied through the day and night.

Then, back to the hair.  When makeup is done, remove the clips and gingerly rake through the hair to separate the curls with fingers, not a brush or comb, to create the delicate beach waves.  For the head piece, Ashley opted for a simple band of little cream flowers with the ties braided into her hair.  Later that day, when the fog rolled in, we umphed up the waves with a few extensions that I had already prepared for her in my rooms.  More Elnet and voila! A golden goddess, a Venus in cowboy boots.  Congratulations Ashley and Adam!


Friday, August 15, 2014

KEEP SUMMER GLOWING: ETERNAL SUNSHINE MAKEUP


Just like the super moon, summer is starting to wane, and I’m beginning to feel a little wistful about everything al fresco. We all look our best in summer, the net result of eating farmer’s market fresh produce, being outdoors and feeling refreshed. But while we can’t stop the earth from turning, we can keep summer alive all year by keeping the glow going into fall. The key is to not go too orange---you don’t want to look like a contestant from Dancing with the Stars! I’ve spent years perfecting a timeless summer look with bronzers and luminous liquid makeup for my high profile clients and here are all my secrets. 


Sisley's Eye Concealer
Energized Eyes: The key to fight tired looking eyes is concealer in peachy yellow tones. My favorite one is Sisley’s Phyto-Cernes Éclat Eye Concealer in shades #1, #2 and #3. This magic potion is an eyelift in a tube, and is worth every penny. If you are more budget-conscious, try MAC Mineralize Concealer in #20 or #30, depending on your skin tone (don’t go too light. That’s how you get raccoon eyes.) For extra oomph, I speckle luminizing foundation into the inside corner of the eyes to brighten and separate the eyes and on top of the cheekbones, blended into the foundation. My key product is Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk Foundation #3, but if this is too tricky, you can use YSL’s iconic highlighter pen, Touche Éclat.


Go Deep: The steps for a summer glow is to hydrate the skin then go slightly darker with your skin tone. For good hydration, I have found that nothing feeds summer-parched skin better than argan oil. Layered under foundation, it emulsifies the makeup, allowing it to become sheer, like a veil. My must have foundation is Guerlain’s Lingerie de Peau, and its name says it all…it’s like a chemise for the skin. If you are still oil-aversive, try Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer in a tone slightly darker than your own which incorporates these two steps in one. Whatever route you choose, blend, blend, blend with your fingers, fanning out towards the ears and down the neck. The warmth of your hand will help the liquid melt into your skin flawlessly. It’s important that it looks sheer---like the light is coming through the complexion. 


Tom Ford's Bronzing Powder
A Touch of Sun: I love to use a mélange of colors that imitates how the sun hits you, reddish on your forehead, under cheekbones and down along the jawline and a little pinkish color applied on the apples and across the bridge of your nose. Best all around bronzer: Can we talk about Tom Ford’s Bronzing Powder in Gold Dust? Amazing! It’s in such high demand that Saks has issued a moratorium on the amount you can order in a month! This is a great one for lighter skin tones, or it can be used on all skin tones as an illuminator. For medium tones, try Tom Ford’s bronzer in Terra or I love Nars Bronzing Powder in Laguna. Darkest skin tones can use the Brunette mosaic from Guerlain’s Terracotta bronzing powder collection. To apply: use a kabuki shaped dome brush (I use Becca’s retractable one.) The flat surface loads just the right amount of powder, and you can sweep and blend this easily across your cheeks, jaw line, forehead and the bridge of your nose then towards your ears and neck. Then, I use Nars Super Orgasm cream blush on the apples of the cheeks to imitate the warm, pinky glow. 


Young Brooke Shields
Belle de Jour by Nars
Finishing Touches: To avoid Kardashian level makeup overload, keep the rest of your face chic and understated. For lips, I mix a pale pink with a pale coral lipstick to create a perfect fleshy, kissable tone; the perfect Belle de Jour (and if you are not a mixologist, Nars has a lipstick called Belle de Jour!) For lashes, Givenchy’s Phenomen’ Eyes Mascara has a ball tip that allows you to load the top lashes evenly, and stroke the under lashes clean. Then, brows, brows, brows baby. If these are full and well groomed, you don’t need much else. Don’t over pluck! If you’re plucked, you’re f….far too old looking. Think Brooke Shields in her Calvins with those amazing eagle wing brows. Never wax---this thins the skin around the eyes, making it crepy. Pluck or thread sparingly, then fill in brow shape with feathery strokes from a good brow pencil (Kevin Aucoin makes the best). If done well, you won’t even need eyeliner or eye shadow. 

Then, go out! Makeup is great for self-esteem but going outdoors is food for the soul! No matter what the weather, air and exercise feed the skin and spirit and your mind is always en soleil!

Monday, July 28, 2014

SCANNING FOR STYLE: STRIKE A POSE



Sometimes it’s good to look back in order to move forward, so I’m turning the disco ball back on for more style time traveling.  Cue the theme song from The Valley of the Dolls:   Gotta get off, got to get off this merry-go-round….
  

Jane Fonda: Barbarella & Klute

It’s the 1960’s, the beginning of the sexual revolution, and hair was going BIG and HIGH, like on sex kittens Sharon Tate and the inimitable Brigitte Bardot.  But just like in all revolutions, there’s counter revolution in the streets, which happened one day in a salon in London when Vidal Sassoon took a pair of shears to Twiggy’s long hair, and the structural cut was born.  

Jane Fonda transformed her space nymph Barbarella bouffant into the iconic Klute shag in 1971, the model of cut and structure.   Hair became flatter to the head, and we were blow drying at home, not going to the salon for sets anymore.  


Patty Hanson, Rosie Vela

The poster child of 70’s hair was, of course, Farrah Fawcett.  Her hair cut was such a phenomenon that it got its own zip code!  EVERYBODY wanted those loose, easy breezy waves.  It was the definitive, All American style.  Back when I began working at a salon in Montreal, everyone came in wanting Charlie’s Angels hair!   In the 80’s, hair became inflated again, just like our economy, getting as big and poufy as a LaCroix skirt or Nancy Reagan’s party budget.  Super models were not rolling out of bed for less than ten grand, and the Cosmo cover was the benchmark of beauty…think Way Bandy makeup and the super-sized hair of such perfect creatures as Rene Russo and Rosie Vela.   Hair was a cascade of curls, or an iteration of the shag, with lots and lots of layers that were “juzuged”…. blown under with lots of height at the top. 

Of course the 90’s was all about Jennifer Aniston’s “Rachel”, her face-framing layered cut for her TV character.  It was fun, down to earth and Friendly, which was what everybody needed to calm their 1999 jitters.   Then Madonna ushered in the new millennium with the age of the chameleon, the person who uses all the looks from the past and combines it with the power of new technology to transform themselves every day----hello Lady Gaga!  She is Madonna on steroids.    


When I think about how far we’ve come since 1920 with what we can do, from hair extensions to Brazilian straightening to at-home hair color, the sky is the limit, and that’s what we’ve been seeing.  Think of Beyonce, transforming herself for every performance and persona.  Of course, there’s always the hold-out, the person who changes and inspires by not changing at all, and today that would be the Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton.  



So when someone asks me what their next hair style should be, I ask who do you want to be? Take a look at all the timeless beauties and transform yourself and your style.  “Beauty is where you find it!”

YOUR NEW STYLE: IT’S ABOUT TIME


My job as a hair stylist is to help women find the perfect hair for their lifestyle.  One of the ways I do this, almost without thinking, is to put everything in perspective from the standpoint of time.  Before I can determine where we are going with a style, I have to think about where we have been.   So for this, I’d like to switch on the disco ball time machine and quickly travel back through the hair revolution of the past 100 years.  If you want, dial up Vogue by Madonna on your iPod for a bit of inspiration:  Greta Garbo and Monroe, Deitrich and DiMaggio….


Louise Brooks
For centuries, women were consigned to having long, heavy tresses, but from 1920 onward, women have freed themselves from this burden, to the point where women now can do anything they want with their hair, as long as they are happy with it.   The first milestone was the bob in the 1920’s.  It was the flapper era, a time when the attitude was “the devil may care,” and Louise Brooks was its “It Girl.” Her iconic cut still is worn today by heavy-hitter influencers like American Vogue Editor-In-Chief Anna Wintour, and not only because it is short, straight and edgy, but because it is also androgynous, empowering women to feel strong and take charge of their own lives.


Greta Garbo
Then came the Crash of 1929, leading into the Great Depression of the 1930’s.  This was when the old adage, “the harder the times, the softer the hair,” really came to fruition.   Women started to escape the difficulties in their own lives by taking sanctuary in the cinema, where screen sirens such as Greta Garbo and Jean Harlow prowled, growing out their bobs into soft, face-framing curls.   

Veronica Lake
Lauren Bacall
From the frying pan into the fire, we then went into the 1940’s and World War II.  Women didn’t have time or money to go to the salon, so their hair began to grow, but goddesses like Rita Hayworth in Gilda and Veronica Lake kept it soft and sultry with heartbreaker waves, a trend that enabled the transformations of Norma Jean into Marilyn and Betty Joan Perske into Lauren Bacall.  By the 50’s, women were back in business and back to the salon, cutting their hair again, but for a sexy, seductress effect.   Think Elizabeth Taylor in Butterfield 8 (Only Liz could play a prostitute and still look like a million!) and the brick house bombshells that were Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida.
  
Liz Taylor, Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren

They came on so strong that no man could resist!   All of these women had so much influence on those who came after them, and still do today, so we will continue our journey, then come back to the future in my next blog. For now, fade out Madonna:  They had style, they had grace, Rita Hayworth gave good face.  Lauren, Katherine, Lana too, Bette Davis, we love you!

Katharine Hepburn, Rita Hayward, Bette Davis


Friday, July 25, 2014

Fashion Is Not Beauty: You Are Who You See



We all look around to find style inspiration.  One of my peeves is when I see a woman wearing makeup and nail polish that is in fashion, but that isn’t flattering to her skin type and tone.  It’s so important to remember that fashion is not beauty.  You take fashion on and off, but a great haircut and makeup style is your signature, and should always suit your lifestyle.  It’s fun to follow fashion, but what you see coming down the catwalk isn’t necessarily right for the sidewalk.  
Take Kim Kardashian for example.  She’s a gorgeous woman, but generally she’s gone too far for real life. She’s always in full throttle runway fashion and makeup, which would be okay if she was doing a cover shoot, but mostly she’s at home with her sisters.   There’s nothing about her that looks right for every day.  
You have to take your inspiration and translate it for real life, and for that, you have to think modern classic.  Some women who have nailed this would be Charlize Theron, one of my all-time favorites.  She’s always got her hair and makeup just right for the occasion, and it’s always age appropriate.  Another is Jennifer Lawrence, a young girl who isn’t afraid to try new things, such as with her new short haircut, but always looks pretty, and pretty goes a long way. 

You are who you watch: if you fill your mind with images from crass reality shows, it sinks into your DNA, and your style suffers for it.   You should fill your style diet with better inspirations, such Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn.  They don’t fit into the classic equation of beauty, but they created a style for themselves that was both beautiful and stylish.  Marilyn did it with illusion, by becoming what I call a fabulous fake, and her legacy still inspires us today.  Audrey Hepburn, on the other hand, became beautiful with instinct and grace.  She focused on her strengths, such as her amazing brows and bone structure, and always kept herself demure, with low heels and just the right fit of clothes.  She called it attainable beauty, but I say she invented the word style.  






That’s because she knew that beauty was balance and harmony; that what makes someone beautiful emanates from the inside as well.  Her beauty and style was informed by her life. She was a woman who survived World War II then devoted herself to giving back by becoming an ambassador for the U.N. to bring relief to drought-ridden Ethiopia. 

So before you gawk at the celebrities with purple hair and tattoos that look like a bar code from the supermarket, remember that what you take in gets mirrored out from your eyes to create your own persona.  You are who you see! 

Monday, June 30, 2014

The “I” Has to Travel: Style Inspiration from the South of France

This past week I was fortunate enough to attend the destination wedding of my godson (Felix) in a gorgeously restored 16th century chateau in the South of France.  While the journey there and back had its ups and downs, the actual event, and some side excursions, certainly was food for my soul.  Here’s three takeaways I brought back with me.



1:  It’s Great to Glam Up Every Now and Then:  Everything about the wedding was perfection: the impeccable chateau, the grounds and gardens.  There were about 100 guests, all in black tie and full length gowns.  The bride and groom were flawless---just look at the bride’s chic and understated hair and gown!  A red carpet stretched across the lawns to the ceremony and then reception was held in the garden, with champagne flowing all night.  I was honored to be seated next to one of my all-time heroes, the legendary hairstylist Jean Louis David!  We whiled away the night talking about all the iconic photographers and editors at Vogue.   There is so much to learn from this man’s life and philosophy, which I hope to share one day.





2:  Aspire, Inspire:  While I was seduced by all the trappings of wealth, I realized that much of what I saw, from the architecture and designs to the clothing and furniture, could all be acquired for less money with a little ingenuity.   From the chic restaurants and hotels in Saint Tropez and all along the Cote d’Azur, where Brigitte Bardot and Alain Delon used to hobnob, to the inspiration of the colors and vibrancy on the streets, you don’t have to spend a fortune to look like a billionaire.   I like to call it “trickle up effect.”  You use your impressions and inspirations to aspire higher, but without breaking the bank.  



3.  The Best Things in Life Are Free:  Traveling on to Nice was so inspiring.  It gives you a new perspective after spending time in such luxury to pass through the fields of lavender and visit grottos of wild rosemary, to see the tall cedars lining the vineyards.  The sights and the smells were so soothing to the soul and a reminder that we cannot take anything for granted.  I mean, Nice is nice, but you become very sensitive to the real community, the workers who serve all those who are passing through.  





After all, that’s what we all are doing as we travel to our destinations, just traveling on a road to a higher consciousness while serving our fellow travelers.  Just please let me walk the road in Louboutins! 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

THE SHAPE SHIFTERS: THE NEW GAMINE CUTS BRING SEXY BACK

We all dream of having a haircut that can change from moment to moment, that can be sleek and chic for day, then tousled and deconstructed for night, letting us shift from one vibe to another, depending on the occasion or mood.   That’s why my favorite new cuts are the new long gamines we are seeing on the red carpet. I like to call them shape shifters, because when they are cut correctly, they can affect your entire presence, and that is when a haircut is most empowering.  

The best example?  Jennifer Lawrence’s latest cut, which can go from sleek, chic, slicked-back hair to messy, tousled tomboy bangs the next.   It’s really a new iteration of the Jean Seberg and Audrey Hepburn pixie that is short and tapered to the nape but leaves the front long and sexy.  I think the gamine look gets its allure from the dichotomy between the masculine and feminine in the cut, drawing on the strengths of both sexes.  


Some other examples of great cuts would be Charlize Theron, Julianne Hough, and Robin Penn Wright, all attractive women who have broken out of the mold of standard sex symbolism.  Their looks are both powerful and seductive.  And because the new short cut is androgynous, it’s a style that men can wear as well, to get a more poetic look, with hair long in the front and tapered to the nape. 


I know it can be counter-intuitive to think that it’s sexier to have short hair in the back.  One of the biggest mistakes is when a woman tells me I can cut the front short, but  leave the length in the back.   I mean, hello mullet!    The front of the hair is where the real action is.  A good stylist will know just where to cut to accentuate the jawline, the cheekbones, the brows and the eyes.  And a longer length up front will give you lots of play room, to wear it with more volume, or sleek or higher up top, even peekabooing behind the ears just enough to give the illusion of length. 

But here’s the real secret:  shorter hair at the nape reveals some of the most potent yet discreet erogenous zones: the back of the neck, the ears and the collarbones.  The geisha have known this for centuries.  They considers the nape the most erotic area of the body.  Now that’s really bringing sexy back.