A few months ago I interviewed author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about reconciling two seemingly antithetical issues: feminism and makeup. Adichie, a New York Times best-selling author and outspoken feminist is also someone who has wholeheartedly embraced fashion and beauty, recently being named the new face of No7 and sitting front row at Dior’s spring 2017 show (where the title of one of her books, We Should All be Feminists, was scrawled across t-shirts that came down the runway). Our discussion focused on the how and why it has become a generally held belief that feminists can’t love makeup, and also how we can move forward from that. It was a powerful conversation that we saw come to life in the form of Prada’s fall 2017 runway show in Milan—at least when it came to the hair and makeup.

“We were talking to Mrs. Prada about seduction and how we deal with seduction in today’s world,” said makeup artist Pat McGrath. “And I know for me, when figuring out the makeup look, the conversation focused on using makeup more as a statement and a mode of self-expression, than as a way to please other people.” A statement that brought me back to my earlier conversation with Adichie. And McGrath translated that in a couple ways for the show: There were models wearing no makeup at all, models wearing a matte red lipstick, and models with black and sky-blue pigment around their eyes that McGrath “finger-painted on.” “It’s all done in a very real way,” she explained. “So the girls look very independent and strong, and there’s a real freedom to it.”

Prada-Fall-2017-Makeup

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Hairstylist Guido echoed those sentiments of rule breaking and freedom of expression in the haircuts he did specifically for the show: Cutting a short, choppy pixie on one model, bangs of various lengths on a few others, and in the truest example of saying F-you to conventional beauty rules, he hacked off large face-framing sections of hair right at the cheekbones (see below). “It feels like outgrown bangs,” he said, noting that the idea came loosely from the rebellious styles women experimented with in the late ’60s/early ’70s. While not every model who walked the show got a haircut, they all got a healthy misting of Redken Wind Blown Volumizing and Texturizing Dry Hair Spray and a bit of Redken Move Ability 05 Cream Paste massaged throughout to enhance the toughness of the style without adding too much texture.

Prada-Fall-2017-Runway-Hair

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And as the last red lips were pressed on and the final snips were being made to newly shorn bobs in the midst of the usual backstage chaos, Guido made a comment about the classic “Prada woman” that tied in perfectly with the idea that feminism and femininity don’t have to be mutually exclusive. “The Prada woman is a very powerful woman. Even if she’s super feminine at times, she has some sort of empowerment to her and her beauty look always reflects that,” whether that’s a messy French twist and red lipstick, or no makeup at all and her hair left to air-dry. McGrath, on the other hand, ended the evening blending black greasepaint under the eyes to smudgy perfection, but also with a note of encouragement: “What we’re doing here opens up a lot of questions about beauty, which is what we’re seeing today,” she said. “Beauty and makeup is not just about problem solving anymore. It’s about enjoying and loving color, statements, and self-expression, and I think that’s pretty genius.”


Watch as three inspiring people help dispel one of the greatest beauty myths:



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