When I was asked to create a look for this years Salon Melbourne the lovely folk at Kryolan Australia asked that I do something more geared towards the avant garde than beauty - a request I was more than happy to accommodate :) I decided on a tribute to Alice in Wonderland and having recently done a recreation of one of Tenniel's classic Alice illustrations (photos coming soon!) I wanted to try a different angle and create a modern & abstract interpretation of the text. Finding a model with the right look was particularly important to ensure that there was a grounded connection with the Alice we all know and love so I was incredibly fortunate to find the lovely (not to mention talented) Yana Martens whose bright blue eyes and long blond hair - not to mention amazing bone structure - provided a perfect base for my designs :)
"Avant Garde" denotes experimentation - so in designing the look I took inspiration from elements of Alice's adventures that sparked my imagination and used to project to experiment with a few things I hadn't done before;
The Text Itself...
The first time Alice's Adventures were put to paper it was handwritten by Carroll in a beautiful book (Alice's Adventures Underground) later presented to Alice Liddell as a gift and which is now a feature piece of the British Library's collection in London. I personally love Carroll's handwriting and thought it would be nice to incorporate something from Alice's beginnings so set to work photographing the pages and extracting snippets of text in Photoshop. Using blank tattoo paper I was able to transfer Carroll's handwriting directly onto my model and integrate it into the makeup.
The Distortion of Proportion
The asymmetrical triangle that makes up a large part of the makeup design was as much a nod to Carroll's history with mathematics and the chess game in Through the Looking Glass as it was to the rules of perception. Our eyes will immediately go to the darkest park of an image - be it consciously or not - and black also has the ability to make things look smaller than they actually are. My aim was to use the asymmetry of the triangle to balance out the slight asymmetry of the face - and also to provide a stark contrast to Yana's incredible blue eyes.
Throughout Alice's adventures in Wonderland she frequently undergoes dramatic changes in size - at one point she shares height with a caterpillar at another she is swaying above the tree tops musing on if she'll ever see her feet again... how do her clothes stay in one piece I ask you??! Well in this case - they don't.... I stained a wonderful piece of woven net fabric (a treasured find from a garage sale) blue with a pot of ink as a reference to Alice's traditional blue dress. The loose weave allowed me to easily fit the piece to Yana on the day of the expo - over a black boob tube and high waited pants which I chose to balance the makeup design and provide a continuation of block black areas.
Through The Looking Glass
The second of Alice's Adventures is equally as dear to me as the first and I became very set on somehow integrating pieces of mirror into the makeup. After debating a couple of ideas I started daydreaming about mirror eyebrows and with the help of the lovely Craig from Sunrise Glass followed by an intense 4 hour session with an amazing grinding wheel the dream became a reality. This was actually a lot of fun as I LOVE learning to work with new materials and equipment and am incredibly fortunate to have an amazing father who is always happy to teach me how to use the plethora of crazy tools in the shed :D
As Alice's adventure's come to an end in through the looking glass she is crowned a Queen so what else was there to do but to give my Alice a crown all of her own? Following on with the play on proportion I decided it should be a rather tiny one which I crafted using an old IPA bottle with the help of some scissors, a heat gun and a tidy pile of acrylic paint. Salon Melbourne is of course a celebration of hair as well as makeup so I set myself the challenge of creating a style that incorporated and element of symmetry as well as creating a softness around the face to contrast the makeup design.
I played around for an afternoon with a styling head I had lying around from my Uni days taking inspiration from a massive old book of period hairstyles I was lucky enough to find in a charity shop. After finally settling on a design I set to work practicing the style so as not to loose preparation time on the day of the event... and also to work on making it as neat as possible.... goddamn those flyaway hairs!
Painting the Roses Red
This was one of my favourite elements of the makeup and one I left to complete while giving my talk on stage. When Alice finally makes it to the beautiful gardens she comes across a few cards haphazardly painting accidentally planted white roses red - in the hope that the tyrannous Queen of Hearts won't notice.... well we all know how that goes. To translate this into the makeup I laid down a base of white on the lips - using a pencil and cream eyeliner to ensure it wasn't so moist as to to allow the colours to run into each other. I then roughly applied a coating of red over the top with the lips pursed, picking up texture and allowing you to see the white coming though. This technique is particularly effective when using liquid lipsticks as they dry matte and do not bleed into the undercoat - very handy indeed! However if that's not a product you have handy red cake eyeliner will do the trick!
Last but not least came the idea of the little white gloves which the White Rabbit so incongruously demands Alice fetch from his house. These allowed for a continuation of white through the design - starting at her crown, moving down through eyelashes and lips and ending up wherever her hands happened to be. Rather than literally painting gloves I opted for asymmetrical geometric designs, keeping in the style of the face, and topped of with black and red nail polish .
And to think I that once upon a time I thought people were being ridiculous and over analytical when they droned on about the imbued significance of minor details in art works..... These days I know better: it's those little details that are all the fun! :)