The people behind the perfection

Backstage at Vauxhall Fashion Scout there are lines of models being primped, preened and generally manhandled, kind of in a good way, whilst hair stylists and make up artists run around trailing hairdryers and blusher brushes wherever they go.
I managed to grab Rachel Wood, Make up artist in charge of all this mania backstage at London Fashion Week, in between shows for a quick chat about trends, travel and what it takes to become a successful make up artist.

What are the recurrent trends and themes this season?

There is a definitely a resurgence of the sort of ‘heroin chic’ that was around in the 90’s, everyone is opting for the unkempt look, there are a lot of feral eyebrows this season. We’ve kind of turned the groomed look around, with clumped mascara and basically making the models look like they’ve it themselves. I think the recession has triggered this, where no one has the money or time to do perfect make up and we’re all just kind of throwing it on!

Easily replicated then! We’ve just seen David Koma’s show which you co-ordinated the make up for, how did you achieve the look?

David was very influential in this process, he wanted them to look drowned and haunting. I used this as an opportunity to be creative, I love using lip products on the eyes and eye products on the face. We used a lot of textures for this look, mattes, crèmes, sheers, glosses all together. David did choose really great models so it made my job easier as this is a very hard look to pull off.

To recreate it, I used a little bit of Benetint lip stain on the eyes to give the reddened effect but for everyday I’d recommend a plum colour, just so you don’t get funny looks on the street! A pale lip is also a great way to emulate this look, use a dab of clear gloss in the centre to give them another dimension.

How did you become a Make up artist?

I began at stage school in the US, where I’m from, and I was always far more interested in the stage make up, I would always spend all of my time perfecting it. My tutor then took me to one side and said I should pursue this, so I came over to England to do a 6 week course and ended up staying for 14 years! I’ve now moved back to New York but come back and forth to work here too.
I assisted for MAC a lot and learnt the trade, I found my own niche and gained an insight into how other people work. I assisted at my very first New York Fashion Week this season, it was weird going back to assisting but it’s so good to learn from others. Everyone has a signature, I think mine is the way I use brushes.

What advice would you give to any budding Make up artists out there?

I would recommend training at the Academy of Freelance Make-up, there are 18 teachers there all with their own skills and techniques, it’s great to work with and learn from a variety of people so you can find your own way. You need to fully understand all of the different products, textures and what you can do with them, play around and have fun with it!
Definitely assist as much as you can, I don’t think people realise how much free and hard work you have to put in at the start of your career, you just need to a build up a portfolio and a name for yourself. It’s not a job you can just walk into, you have to have determination and drive, it’s a 24 hour job, especially around Fashion Week!

Images from Dazed Digital. Thanks to Rachel for being lovely and letting me take up some of her time to bombard her with questions! Also, a huge thank you to the lovely people at Benefit.


  1. I was quite surprised to see the comeback of the early 90s with such a vengeance. Alexander Wang's collection was a great mixture of these influences and 2010.

  2. Thanks for the interview! I've always wanted to get backstage before a show!

  3. Great interview! I love that the 90s are coming back :)



  4. Beautiful models!!! if you want visit my blog and follow me on bloglovin

  5. How interesting to hear from one of the makeup artists. You never normally hear from them in fashion week.
    I'm really quite rubbish at putting on my makeup - there definitely is an art to it! I reckon I could have a go at some of these trends at the moment though. I've never really been into the groomed look anyway!
    Clare xx

  6. you had me at that first look... though the last one has also captured my heart.

  7. Interesting blog. Thanks for the interview!

  8. I would love to learn some makeup skills. I kind of like the return of the heroin chic look (in makeup trends).

  9. great interview! love her quips about current make-up trends and the unkempt look... thinking i'm a natural at that one;)

  10. i love that heroin chic is coming back in style. i loved that look!


  11. This was very inspiring! Thanks for sharing.

  12. the photos are beautiful! I love the second one

  13. Hey hun,
    if your really interested you should let me know what size you are



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