Has Backstage Beauty Lost its Gloss?
Backstage beauty has become big business, but as access widens and the novelty fades, is it still worth the investment? NEW YORK, United States — I started going backstage at fashion shows when I was an assistant in the beauty department at Elle magazine in the late '90s. I’d slip in through an unmarked side door somewhere in the back of the tents at Bryant Park, nod to the headset-wearing guardian, and stand for a moment — tentatively those first few seasons; it was terrifying — on the fringes of fashion’s innermost sanctum. To me, it was Oz. Or Wonderland. Or both. Truly: It was a magical, secret world few had ever seen. Tables were lined with endless pans of foundation and eye shadow in every shade, little unmarked jars of mica and glitter, palettes hand-filled with lip pigment, a billion mascara spoolies and makeup brushes unfurled in their rolls. The air was thick with hairspray. Blow-dryers roared. Everyone was in a hurry, as models rushed in late from other shows, the designer darted around surveying the scene, making small changes. I would get shivers from seeing each runway look separately arranged with its accompanying accessories on a rolling rack labelled with the model’s name (does that really say Gisele?).