Saturday, May 26, 2012

Billboard Beauties

A very grown-up Miley Cyrus

Last weekend’s 2012 Billboard Music Awards brought out the music industry’s biggest stars in surprisingly elegant outfits; there wasn’t anything rock-and-roll about this red carpet -- designer gowns were the look of the night, although Miley Cyrus’s white Gaultier tuxedo-style mini  was variously described as “pants-less,” “missing the bottom half,” and “highly risqué.”

We see London, we see France...
Yet the same fashion/beauty columnists were unanimous in their praise for Miley’s fabulous hair and makeup. Loaded with tousled volume reminiscent of the early Seventies, yet looking thoroughly modern, Miley was sporting a shoulder-grazing crop and new color that transitions from deep caramel to paler honey. The lightly teased crown is what gives this look its retro flair while the soft texture keeps it from looking dated. The look is very soft and sexy, and her makeup is as well, especially her soft pink lip color. Someone’s new stylist really knows what he or she is doing – every detail works, from the jewelry to her striped Louboutins! Miley’s come a very long way, and this is the best she’s ever looked.   

Alicia Keys braided crown
Braids continue to be a major hair trend, and Alicia Keys’s single-braid crown is a perfect example of how even someone with hair too short to braid can make the most of this trend. By pulling back the hair and attaching a hairpiece, you can create a design on the head and many different braid effects, from Alicia’s very structured look, which complements her demure-yet-sexy Azzedine Alaia Couture gown, to the more unstructured, “controlled mess” braids like fishtails, and other beautifully uncontrolled looks we’ve been seeing on the runways for the past few seasons.

Brandy's "pyramid" cut
R&B singer Brandy, who some beauty editors characterized as channeling a “Tina Turner vibe,” looked smashing with her voluminous natural curls and Herve Leger for Max Azria bandage dress. I’ll tell you a stylist’s secret – the most beautiful hair looks are those that are, no matter what the style, cut in a triangular or pyramid shape. It softens the features and makes the eyes the focal point of the face. Even if the triangular shape is very soft or it’s just the illusion of the pyramid within the cut that only a trained stylist would notice, it works every time. Brandy makes the most of the shape of her hair by further playing up her eyes with an intensely blue smoky look, and balanced that with the perfect nude glossy lip. You know the rule…

Carly Rae Jepsen
Carly Rae Jepsen certainly does. She pairs her intensely red matte lipstick with soft eye makeup. With her heavy fringe of blunt bangs bringing plenty of attention to her eyes and helping to soften her long features, the whole look is a good one for the young lady with one of the most popular songs in the country right now (“Call Me Maybe”).

Carrie Underwood
I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something is missing from Carrie Underwood’s look. I kept returning to her pictures, and all I could see was eyes and teeth and dark roots. The rest of her face is very washed out. I think that had she used a touch of blush in a slightly pink tone to break up the monotony, that little pop of color on her cheekbones would have done the trick. 

The fluffy gown
Carrie speaks openly about how she does her own makeup, and I often remind my clients that after they are done applying their makeup in those magnifying mirrors, they need to stand back five feet from the regular mirror and take a look at themselves, and then move to 10 feet back. 

The performance gown
It’s the only way to get an idea of how OTHER people will see you. Frequently, that perspective of distance will cause you to make some adjustments. I think Carrie would have benefitted from that advice. And the Oscar de la Renta dress was just too fluffy and overwhelming; her performance gown and makeup were much, much better.  

Natasha's seafoam gown
The opposite happened with Natasha Bedingfield. There are pictures of her in two different gowns: a beautiful sheer seafoam/turquoise shade covered with crystals and sequins, and a partially sheer sexy black with a thigh-high slit. 

Natasha's black gown
Yet she did not alter her makeup or hair, and while it looked fine with the black number, it looked too hard yet too casual with the seafoam gown. I would have given her a more finished look to go with the more embellished and formal gown, defined the curls more, and changed the color of her lipstick from the warm orangey-coral to something cooler and more delicate. It’s not that her hair and makeup were bad – they just weren’t right for both outfits. 

Chrissy Tiegen
John Legend’s fiancée, model Chrissy Tiegen, looked lovely in her long peek-a-boo bangs and high ponytail over a short strapless couture cocktail dress with a very on-trend peplum. Not everyone can pull off this look; but her makeup is pretty and she has a killer smile, and you can get away with a lot with that very winning combination.

Jordin Sparks' sexy figure
Jordin Sparks, who performed “I Will Always Love You” during the tribute to Whitney Houston, has certainly grown up since she won her season of “American Idol.” She’s lost quite a bit of weight, and her form-fitting, lace Diane von Furstenberg mini-dress really shows it off. I would have given her side-pony a side part to give her a bit more softness, and then played up her eyes more rather than her lips. 

Jordin up close
But, often this is a matter of personal preference and not something a makeup artist foisted upon a celebrity. Jordin may think her lips are her best feature, and now that she’s old enough and famous enough to assert her own will, advice that runs counter to what she feels will be ignored. Or, she took the advice of a makeup artist who made the decision for her, and I simply disagree.  

Julianne Hough
Julianne Hough looks tiny and pretty and elegant in her silver Kaufman Franco sequined dress and golden Nicholas Kirkwood shoes. Her deeply side-parted hair, with its retro wave swept over one shoulder, is a classic Old Hollywood look we see repeated on the red carpet over and over – because it is a soft, flattering look that anyone can wear. 

Julianne’s makeup is also soft, elegant and pretty, with no hard edges, making it a total package. I like this much better than her look at the Met Costume Gala just a few weeks ago.

Katy Perry, elegant goth
The color-crazy Katy Perry manages to pull off every outrageous look she tries through the sheer force of her personality. I’ve noticed that this latest haircolor, which her colorist described as “Purple Velvet,” has inspired Katy to dial back the crazy makeup colors (she was often matching her blue hair to her eyeshadow, then throwing on a hot pink lipstick), opting to follow the runway trend of the “vampy” lip color revival but leaving the eye makeup very soft. Katy proves you can look elegant without looking freakish when you go with these strong colors by sculpting the makeup, and choosing subtle or delicate clothes and jewelry (another thing Katy never did before). Even so, the look is an attention-getter, especially on such a pretty girl. At least she doesn’t have tattoos and piercings as well; that would just be too much.

Kerli, the anti-Katy Perry
The opposite of Katy Perry would be Estonian performer Kerli. I’ve seen messy outfits that look sexy, but this is more along the lines of someone standing on the corner in that certain part of town yelling out at passing cars, “Looking for a good time, honey?” 

Kerli, the full monty
Starting at the top with the crazy hair (the pastel trend never looked so…dirty), it just gets crazier as your eye moves downward to the garters, the tights, and those terrible, terrible shoes. If Katy Perry is looking for attention, what exactly is Kerli looking for?  What would you say if you saw her on the street looking like this? I thought so.

Lisa Marie Presley
I am amazed every time I see Lisa Marie Presley. She is a very private person, so we don’t see her very often. I am always taken aback by how much she looks like her father – her face is just as arresting as his once was, and the resemblance grows more pronounced as she grows older. Lisa Marie looks even better in her Forties than she did in her Twenties, in my opinion; I think she needed to grow into her looks and find her own identity. 

Lisa Marie and husband
She’s not conventionally pretty (which is so much more interesting anyway) – and she never seems to really smile. But there is no denying she is charismatic and has that star quality some people are simply born with. You can’t help but stare at her. Her hair color is flattering (no more dying it dark to play up the Elvis look), the cut perfect for her face, her makeup subtle and expertly designed to bring out the green in her hazel eyes. It all fits well together, and her outfit is decidedly low-key – her husband was much more flamboyantly dressed than she. This is real rock royalty.

Taylor Swift
I love how Taylor Swift changed it up with this fabulous Elie Saab illusion lace gown in crimson – at first you think you’re seeing much more of this country crossover star than you ever thought possible, then you realize you aren’t and, in fact, the gown is fairly covered up. But it breaks the mold for Taylor, and that’s always a great thing to see. 

I’m showing you this particular close-up to illustrate a point about how important photo composition, shot selection, and the proper use of Photoshop can be. This image was released to the world by Getty, the largest global photo bank. 

The unfortunate shot
And I want you to take a look at the lovely Taylor’s left underarm. With the number of images these photographers snap off at a tenth of a second each, I find it astounding that Getty chose to release this image with that unfortunately placed lock of Taylor’s hair. I have seen plenty of other images from that night, taken from the same angle, but after Taylor had obviously moved a bit and adjusted her hair, so there is no excuse for releasing an image into their photobank that looks as if she has underarm hair that is long enough to braid. If nothing else, this is why photographers legitimately retouch images in Photoshop. And anyone could have run up, adjusted her hair, or one of the photographers could have shouted at Taylor to shake her hair out (since when have photographers been reticent about shouting at celebrities to get their attention??). Anyway, even with the underarm lock, Taylor looks stunning with her slightly shorter and choppier bangs in a more silvery ash tone than she’s been wearing. Rather than her signature red lips and soft eyes, she’s gone for a metallic copper smoky eye and nude lip with pink undertones that wouldn’t fight with her dress. I think Taylor passed a milestone with this outfit, and we’ll be seeing a more sophisticated look on her from now on.

Zooey Deschanel
Finally, we have another retro/modern hairstyle, this time on a singer/actress famous for her retro/modern sensibility, Zooey Deschanel. In her Sixties-style silver sequined Moschino dress (very Edie Sedgwick), opaque black Beatnik tights, and black Miu Miu pumps, her signature shiny, heavy bangs  and back-combed crown reveal a surprisingly undone up-do – one that looks like it could easily be reproduced at home. It’s another “controlled mess” that’s sexy and looks good on most any woman. And I love her orange lipstick. It’s a color that scares a lot of women, but on Zooey it works beautifully because of its slightly sheer satin texture, the fact that the rest of her makeup is very soft, and the orange on her lip acts like the orange of the sunrise to make the sky blue of her eyes seem even more intense.  

Until next week, ciao…
Dino Laudati

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