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Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood S/S18Photography by Rosie Marks

Painterly Perfection at the MAC x Westwood Make-Up Test

We take a look behind the scenes at the Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood S/S18 make-up test, where creativity and freedom flow free

TextSophie BewPhotographyRosie Marks
Lead ImageAndreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood S/S18Photography by Rosie Marks

“So we’re just going to wrap this cape around her – she’s going to have some Vaseline-y cream on her face – then we tip a bucket of water over her and all the hair is going to come forward and stick. And we’re going to smack on some colour, like thwack,” says Val Garland, miming a kind of wallop in the direction of Sam McKnight’s face. We’re in the basement of the Vivienne Westwood Paris store on rue Saint-Honoré and it’s T-minus-two days until the Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood show. “And then it will probably all change,” she laughs. 

Any Vivienne Westwood make-up test is time a for play for the hair and make-up teams. “It’s one of my absolute favourite shows to do,” Garland explains. “Ultimately I’m an artist and this is the time for me to really paint.” With that she floats over to model Zofia, whose shaved head and beautifully angular face makes her a perfect canvas for a Turner-esque sunset wash across her entire visage. Meanwhile McKnight’s team are furiously braiding, twirling and pinning the tresses of another model, the lengths of which will presumably be plastered to her face.

Though this is a time for creativity, it’s also a time for serious technical expertise, as MAC Cosmetics’ senior artist Dominic Skinner explains while they work. Having taken cues from Kronthaler and Westwood – as with most Westwood shows they are looking for tribes of girls and boys, with a mix of several distinct looks and this time with a painterly feel – Garland and McKnight experiment while Dominic ploughs through the MAC kit and back catalogue to find the perfect product for the job. “My job is to listen to what she wants and then figure out what to use and how to create it for the day so that she and the team can just get on and do the make-up and we have everything they need. For this water look, I now need to figure out what is going to stick to that, and look right,” Skinner explains. It’s not long before I see his assistant pouring water over colour swatches on his arms, as lurid orange goo drips all over the floor.

“The thing is, we do all this, get feedback from Vivienne and Andreas upstairs and tweak, but then everything will change on the day,” Garland explains. “We just like to stay very impulsive and free.” On the day of the show, Zofia is one of the first models to emerge, her sunset colour wash recreated almost exactly, bar a little extra intensity of hue here and there. The wet hair, colour-thwack-mouth look, in all its sticky glory, was also present and correct. But as one should expect from one of fashion week’s most outré offerings, this was just the beginning. The show opened on a circuit of boys, clad only in caps and duvets and huge clownish lips. Glittery hand prints were stamped onto model’s chins, colour washes varied from face to face in a rainbow of candy colours, shapes were painted directly onto bodies, just as Vivienne had daubed flowers directly onto clothes. It was a motley crew made up of models and street-cast volunteers, draped in colour and happy-making clothes that touched on everything from streetwear to couture via Tyrolean folkwear. The Westwood tribes were out in full force, and face, and what a party it was.

For our S/S18 fashion week coverage, is collaborating with Gasoline, a photography collective working with visual artists around the world. Here, photographer Rosie Marks presents a look behind the scenes at the Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood make-up test.