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Brush with an expert
7:00am Saturday 2nd March 2013 in Lifestyle
To see London Fashion Week through the eyes of a top make-up artist, Lisa Haynes sneaks backstage amongst the powder and paint.
When a model struts her way onto the catwalk, the clothes are only half the story.
Backstage, she may have been in hair and make-up for two to three hours as the beauty teams preen, polish and perfect to create the image visualised by the designer.
Val Garland is puppeteer of her make-up team, pulling the transformation strings. A top make-up artist for 27 years and with M.A.C Cosmetics since 1994, you may not have heard her name but you'll undoubtedly have seen her work - in magazines, on television and at international fashion weeks.
It's day three of London Fashion Week and Sunday is anything but a day of rest for Garland. She is the key artist at nine shows but today she is juggling five backstages in just one day.
From late model arrivals to dealing with indecisive designers, we shadow her day.
Preen by Thornton Bregazzi Some make-up artists work quietly and seriously. Not Val Garland. After going to bed at midnight and getting up at 4.30am, Garland is the life and soul of the backstage party at the 6am 'call-time' for Preen while others are still rubbing the sleep from their eyes.
Her temporary backstage home is made obvious by her trademark 'Val Garland' branded tape marking out her area.
She describes the look for Preen as "delicate punk", created using grey eyeshadow mixed with water to create a liquid liner, drawn in a sharp diagonal line on either the upper or lower lid.
It's modern and graphic but there were a few variations before getting to the final runway look as the designer switches from one line, to top and bottom line, before reverting back to one line.
"The only way you can decide on the make-up is when you see it on the runway, under the lights," says Garland.
"I'm always there for pre-show rehearsal with the designer and stylist. We have a list of the models and I might say, 'She's too shiny' or 'I don't like that' or the designer says, 'I love that' and that's how it works."
Temperley London Time is tight between Preen's finale and Garland's 9.30am arrival for Temperley but luckily Val has a motorbike revving outside for her.
"As the finale starts, I run outside, hop on the back of the bike and whizz to the next show," she says. "It's essential for getting to each backstage on time in traffic.
"I love it because it's a moment of relaxation between shows, with the wind blowing in my hair as I take in the capital's sights."
All of Val's immediate crew are miked up with headsets so there's no shouting between make-up stations. Just calm, orderly beautifying.
The inspiration at Temperley is Hitchcock heroine Kim Novak, and it's all about the eye with a bold liner. Although it's a retro inspiration, Garland is adamant the eye shouldn't look too Fifties. Using one of her prized possessions, an artist's brush, she lines with fine precision using her statement glasses for close-ups.
Garland dubs herself the 'Queen of Brushes' and estimates she has thousands in her total kit.
Vivienne Westwood The midday atmosphere backstage at Vivienne Westwood is frantic and highly-charged. The face chart is like the blueprint for the final look and this one resembles a Jean Cocteau-inspired avant-garde painting.
While some designers want to keep the focus entirely on the clothes, Vivienne Westwood's make-up is always a masterpiece in itself. Today's reference is 'Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour, shot by Helmut Newton'.
The creative look is achieved using bright products like M.A.C's Pro Chromalines in red, yellow and cyan.
"It's been a sea of grey and monochromes so far this season so it's great to see colour and have some fun," Garland enthuses.
"I love working with Vivienne Westwood because as a make-up artist it's all about ideas and I can go in there and really open up the toybox, throw all the toys in the air and see what sticks!"
The show is due to start at 2pm and two late-running models sprint in at 2.05pm but Garland isn't fazed. Four hairdressers, two make-up artists and two nail artists on each model and they're ready in five minutes flat.
Mary Katrantzou US Vogue editor Anna Wintour is on the front row so the pressure is on for "beautiful super-skin" that complements the clothes.
The late-running Westwood show means Garland doesn't arrive until 3pm and it's a 4pm show but her proficient team has everything in hand and Garland greets the crowd of beauty press waiting to jot the show inspiration in their notepads, Tweet the looks and take videos of make-up artists in action.
As well as overseeing the final make-up looks, Garland is story-teller of the designer's vision.
"I deal with the press, ensuring journalists get what they need for the story and talk about the products we've used to create the look," she explains.
"I've worked with M.A.C for so many years, they will make me a product if I need something specific."
Katrantzou's busy designs are all about architecture and landscapes so Garland explains she's keeping the make-up very pure. There's an intriguing 'ghostliness' to models' faces, created with a cellophane-look gloss on eyes and by highlighting bone structure to reflect under the high beam of the catwalk lights.
Marios Schwab It's Garland's last show of the day and her energy hasn't waned in the slightest. The call-time is 5.30pm and she's flaunting a glossy manicure to beauty journalists that she's managed to squeeze in between shows.
"We've got a bit of a skin eruption going at Fashion Week so we're bringing out the M.A.C Mineralize Concealer," Garland teases, referring to the models' skin that's already feeling the strain of Fashion Week.
She pulls out an iPhone from her Celine bag of essentials to reveal a snapshot of a beautiful medieval woman, the inspiration for the show.
"It's all about skin sculpture but in a much more modern way," she reveals. "It's medieval futurism!"
The show time may be 8.30pm but it's running 40 minutes late and Garland never packs up her make-up kit until the finale when the models take their final catwalk.
But the show isn't over for Garland. A quick recharge and then the action continues at Paris Fashion Week, but she shows no sign of backstage fatigue, saying: "I'm alongside make-up artists that have worked with me for years. They know what the Val-ism is - 'Give me your magic!'"
Trend alert Get a head start on the beauty trends spotted backstage at London for next autumn/winter. Hot off the catwalks, courtesy of the backstage brigade: Make-up "It feels like there's a really big punk thing going on in London for A/W13," says Val Garland. "There are references for punk, skater girl and 'really British' with lashings of black and grey and very little colour."
Hair "This season it's been all about matte textured hair," says Toni&Guy Hair Meet Wardrobe ambassador Mark Hampton. "It's taking traditionally tailored classic hair but adding an edgy youthful look for a sense of toughness."
Nails "There's definitely a more pared-down mood for A/W13," says Revlon UK nail ambassador Jenny Longworth. "Crazy nail art has made way for simple, chic and graphic nails with details like texture or half-moon manis."
Tried & tested Cheat a bouncy blow-dry with a volumising dry shampoo. Our testers try three root-lifting hair saviours: :: Batiste XXL Volume Dry Shampoo, £3.99 (Boots/Superdrug) This Batiste XXL has magic root-boosting powers. Applied correctly, as well as mopping up greasy roots, it adds extreme volume. The texture is slightly gritty afterwards but it's worth it for the big hair pay-off. The next best thing to a blow dry.
5/5 :: This One Rescues Roots & Revamps Volumising Dry Shampoo, £3.99 (Superdrug) I needed to use a generous amount of This One to rescue my limp, lather-loving hair. Immediately after, it looks more presentable with extra volume in the roots but the results didn't last long and I'm left wishing I'd shampooed and conditioned that morning instead.
2/5 :: John Frieda Luxurious Volume Refresh Dry Shampoo, £5.89 (Boots) My hair was embarrassingly greasy when I tried Volume Refresh and it absorbed the oil with ease. It gave my hair uplift and stopped it looking lank. Most impressively, the super-soft texture makes it look and feel freshly washed.
5/5 Buy it now Estee Lauder's Advanced Night Repair serum is a beauty industry best-seller so keep an eye out for its little sister. The Advanced Night Repair Eye Serum Infusion is made specifically for the delicate eye area, reducing fine lines, dark circles and puffiness. Available nationwide from March and exclusively at Selfridges now, £45.
Beauty bulletin :: Boys do beauty Guard your make-up bag. Almost half the male population secretly wear their girlfriends' make-up. Despite only 2% of British men admitting to owning make-up, nearly half confess they regularly 'borrow' it from their wives and girlfriends, a survey from nail care brand Stylfile reveals. Of those who owned up, 47% steal their girlfriend's lip balm, 12% nab their concealer, 8% slap on their fake tan and 6% secretly borrow their eyeliner.
:: Recessionista alert Bring spa luxury to the bathroom this Mother's Day with Sanctuary Spa's Limited Edition Deluxe Sanctuary Hamper. For a limited time the bumper kit is less than half price at £19 (originally £40). Available from February 27 to March 26 at Boots and www.sanctuary.com :: M.A.C Cosmetics is official make-up sponsor of London Fashion Week