Featured from left to right: Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream skin protectant ($25, at Shoppers Drug Mart) was used to give skin a sheen in A Single Man. Shu Uemura Essence Absolue nourishing protective oil ($68, shuuemura.com) makes damaged strands “shine like baby hair,” says Cornell. Chapstick ($3, at Shoppers Drug Mart) in “Cherry” is offers’ go-to lip tint.
Almost every season, Hollywood has a way of asserting its influence on the runways, with leading ladies from contemporary and iconic films inspiring makeup and hair at several shows. For Fall 2011 alone, makeup artist Val Garland painted a smoky eye at Sophie Theallet to evoke a modern-day Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde, while at Dsquared, she channelled Nicole Kidman in Cold Mountain. And Garland wasn’t the only one mining imdb for muses. Hairstylist Eugene Souleiman had Hailee Steinfeld in mind while he weaved what he refers to as “Amish/True Grit braids” at Kenzo.
Behind these big-screen nods are the people who created the looks in the first place—the makeup artists and hairstylists who work in film and television. Their artistic achievements often become pop-culture moments, referenced for years by everyone from photographers to fashion designers. And yet, unlike the beloved onscreen characters they help conceive, they’re not known outside of their industry. Their “celebrity” counterparts, however, are almost as famous as the clientele they primp for awards show season, getting name-checked in every magazine from Us Weekly to In Style. But their worlds, and their work, couldn’t be more different.
“What they do is an art unto themselves,” explains Sue Cabral-Ebert, president of the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild in Los Angeles. “But what we do is just as great, and because it takes place over a longer period of time, it’s harder.” Makeup and hair have the power to communicate many things about characters onscreen, from their lifestyle and socio-economic status to where they grew up, says Cabral-Ebert. “We don’t just make the actor look pretty, we develop an entire character. Because it’s an organic process, you have to know what’s in your script, what the history of this character is and where the character is going.”
Film makeup and hair artists begin their process in the same way as an actor: by poring over a script. If it’s a period piece, artists do extensive research and gather photographs, often sourced from unofficial industry bibles such as Richard Corson’s Fashions in Hair and Fashions in Makeup, which go as far back as ancient Egypt. But with contemporary films, the process is much more collaborative, involving meetings with actors and costume designers to delve into the character: Where would they shop? Which brands would they choose? Would they get their hair professionally highlighted? “It’s an ensemble thing between the actor, the director, the costume designer and yourself,” explains hairstylist Jerry DeCarlo, who’s busy crafting some of the Prohibition-era looks for HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.
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