Backstage with a pre-teen

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock these past few weeks you’ll have noticed that the fashion carousel of New York, London, Milan and now Paris is nearing its full rotation (actually, maybe that’s why you’ve been hiding under a rock these past few weeks?)

For a beauty editor, this means you should simultaneously be replenishing your make-up bags with some sort of pretty pink palette that says, “Spring,” while cataloguing the most important looks coming up for autumn. This can render even the most compartmentalised among us a little frantic, especially because the latter task is meant to be achieved during the chaos (that is putting it mildly) that is the “backstage-at-a-show” scenario.

Though this sounds glamorous, I admit, after the 150th time, instead of doing the big hula-hula dance each time someone says, “Fashion Week backstage pass,” my heart sort of sinks at the thought of an afternoon in a basement with several cartons of Vita Coco (champagne is so 1990s) and a lot of bloggers, blow-dryers and, well ... tall, bony girls. Admittedly, the bits I love – catching up with some truly talented people, getting to see first-hand some crazy beautiful looks – ultimately outweigh the drawbacks, but there’s nothing quite like being around fashion’s bright young things to make yourself wonder: what if I’m just too darned old, not to mention jaded, for it all?

There’s no anti-ageing cream for this issue, so I decided to debut my own youth dew: my 11-year-old daughter. Backstage at the recent Moschino Cheap & Chic show, she had some interesting observations: had I noticed that make-up artists use their fingers for the most part, whereas in stores they use brushes? Oh, and backstage itself smells like hairspray.

What her presence really pointed out to me, however, was that honestly, fashion is not ageist. Sure, the theme of the Cheap & Chic show was punk-couture and the models had jet-black lips or jet-black eyes (not both, that would be scary; this was beautiful). Yet there was something to take away for both of us – and you, too, probably – no matter the number of birthdays involved.

Take the hair: Sam McKnight moussed it up with Pantene Pro-V Moisture Soufflé (£4.49), dried it off, then repeated the whole process to create more volume, before tying it into a messy pony-tail, pinning it back on itself and leaving the ends sticking out.

For fortysomething me, it looked like an easy way to put your hair up without turning into Marge Simpson, or to render a formal-looking cocktail dress more youthful. For my pre-teen, it was a fun look to recreate on the Tube on the 13-stop journey back home – minus the mousse and the blow-dry, of course. (We later texted a picture of her efforts to Sam, who was, he winningly replied, suitably impressed.)

Over to nail supremo Marian Newman, who had painted three nails black and two bright pink on each model’s hand, which again appealed to both of us. While I was relieved that here were nails that didn’t involve yet more embellishment, my daughter related to the idea: that this was a good girl who’d changed her mind, and suddenly gone punky. For anyone who wants to try it at home: the nail lacquer colours are Nocturnelle and Girl About Town by MAC (£10 each).

As for the make-up at the show, like the clothes on the catwalk, you’ll have to wait until at least November to wear those jet-black lips or eyes, created by Hannah Murray. Put these on your list for later: MAC’s Kohl Power eye pencil in Feline (£14), and Clear Lipglass (£13), but don’t be tempted to try them now – it’s too heavy a look for any other time of the year. For wearing now, Clarins Instant Smooth Crystal Lip Gel in 02 Crystal Plum (£16), feels spring-like but directional rather than resorting to the dreaded pastel pinks.

While the black taffeta evening gowns and sturdy looking peacoats on Karlie Kloss et al shouted winter, the models’ peachy complexions were all spring – try Bobbi Brown’s Sheer Color Cheek Tint in Sheer Pink or Sheer Cherry (£18), teamed with Estée Lauder’s Pure Color Lipstick in Crystal Baby (£19.50) for a similar effect. Make-up artist Gucci Westman’s carnal red lips (try Revlon’s Super Lustrous Lipstick in Kiss Me Coral, £7.49) at Antonio Berardi’s autumn/winter show also felt light and fresh, thanks to a soft white pencil drawn along the upper eyelids, a very good trick to steal.

Meanwhile, MAC’s autumn/winter 2013 Forecast Palettes (£35), which come with separate eye and lip colours, were created specially for their make-up artists to use backstage at shows and will go on sale in a mere three weeks. (While cosmetics companies such as Estée Lauder, Bobbi Brown, Max Factor, and Revlon will sponsor a few shows, MAC is the biggest by far, with around 350 artists working on more than 120 shows per season in all fashion week cities). Tom Ford’s Shade and Illuminate palette (£55), a staple for his cosmetics line and the main tool used in his show, will also give you autumn/winter’s look now – make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury used it on cheeks and eyes, with his Eye Defining Pencil in Espresso (£25), around the lids for some monochromatic magic that really makes the colour of your eyes pop (in a good way).

And if that’s not quite enough show-related, next-season one-upmanship for your cosmetics bag, try Chanel’s new Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder (£38), out in the next two weeks and designed to bring a holiday glow to winter’s most deathly complexions. It comes in the chicest of compacts, a light buttermilk shade distinct from the usual black and white, and best of all, made its catwalk debut during January’s haute couture shows.

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