For centuries the red carpet has been a symbol of prestige, signifying godliness, royalty, and power. Commonly used in ceremonies, it was even found at the foot of many ruler’s thrones. Even as time went on, it was still used for dignitaries and the high class. But in the twentieth century, with the rise of Hollywood came a new royalty, a new social class. Movie stars became the ever so glamorous idols that people looked up to, watching their every move. The Golden Age of Hollywood not only brought about memorable films, but some of the most iconic stars who have left a lasting impression on the world forever. Decades later, we still strive to emulate their classic styles.
Sid Grauman brought the red carpet to Hollywood with the very first premier in 1922, but it was not until many years later that it really became the tradition that we see today. At first it was simply used as a ceremonial path for stars to be lead from the cars to the theater, however people were always eager to get a peek at their favorite actor or actress’s fashionable attire. Like kings and queens before them, their styles became the talk of the town and pretty soon they were no longer rushing into the theater, but taking the time to show off their fanciful garb. In 1964 we saw the first televised broadcast of the pre ceremony entrance of stars at the Academy Awards, and just two years later we had the first color broadcast. Thus one of the most well-known traditions in modern society was born. We’ve always had a fascination with what our “royalty” has worn and how they've applied their makeup, wanting to imitate what to us represented the highest of class. No look would be complete without the perfect hair and makeup styling, representing the individual and the image they wished to portray to their admirers. From the soft and sweet, to the sexy bombshell, or even as a display of their regality, their influence could be seen in the prominent fashions of their time.
And nothing has changed over the decades, we wear certain clothes or style our hair and makeup in particular ways after seeing it on someone that we perceive as beautiful, so that we too can exude the same beauty. But the red carpet has expanded beyond just movie premieres and awards ceremonies, it can be found at any prestigious event such as fashion shows, or even product launches! It has become a tradition where you see film and television stars, musicians, models, and even socialites together, dressed to impress. It is no longer reserved for tuxedos and ball gowns, but has become somewhere that we can see even the most casual wear made glamorous. Makeup has become just as important to us as what designer they are wearing, and it’s not long before we can recognize an artist’s signature style. What we see at these events is in turn incorporated into our own lives. We still tune in to the pre-Oscar event every year, and eagerly anticipate the moment when our favorite star enters the scene so we can see what extravagant style they have selected this year. And while we may want to take a gander at their gown, their hair and makeup is what really grabs our attention. One may not be able to afford the fancy dress, but they can recreate that beautiful smokey eye and up do, which they will then wear to their next Christmas party. They see a stylish suit worn by an actress at New York Fashion Week, accompanied by a sleek hairdo and natural makeup, which is the perfect look to wear for their job interview. In other words, it helps bring a bit of glamour to our sometimes not so glamorous lives. I believe red carpet makeup will never lose its luster for us.
Still considered to be one of the most influential icons of all time, someone who we have always thought to be the embodiment of beauty, elegance, and class no matter how much time passes, is none other than Grace Kelly. Perhaps one of the most iconic red carpet looks to this day is the soft, feminine look she showed at the 1956 Academy Awards. With an elegant ball gown, sleek hair do, fresh face, and brows that would be the envy of any girl in 2015, this timeless look can be seen on the red carpet year after year. This simple style showed how powerful natural beauty is, which is why no matter how the trends change, we always come back to this.
One notable example is this look from Taylor Schilling at the recent 2015 Golden Globes, which captures every aspect of Grace’s look. The hair, makeup, and even the gown pay homage to everyone’s favorite princess. Drawing on her look for inspiration as well, since it is after all in color, this is my recreation of the iconic look. More than anything, the focus of this style is to showcase the existing features which is why I believe it stands the test of time.
This classic look is not limited to the red carpet though, which to me is part of what makes it so special. It can be easily achieved and worn for any occasion, even if you’re just going to work! Here is my step by step guide to recreating one of the most desired makeup styles:
Skin Prep: The key to that youthful, radiant glow is going to be the skin, before any makeup has been applied. Though the client’s skin will always vary, for the simplicity of this tutorial I will choose a favorite moisturizer of mine which is the Embryolisse Creme Hydratante a l' Orange. The reason I like this product is because it helps to balance the skin, adding extra hydration where needed, but not over producing moisture in oily areas. It also grabs onto foundation and helps to lock it in place, essentially doubling as a primer, and we want to use as little product as possible. Using a foundation brush I spread this around the skin, and gently massage in with my fingertips.
Color Correction: First and foremost, I address any color correction that might be needed. Dark circles, sun spots, blemishes, etc. will be corrected and concealed using a variation of product. For heavy duty correction, I like to use the Keromask Camouflage Cream. A thin layer can erase even the most stubborn of discoloration. For less intense correction, I like to use Ben Nye’s Neutralizers and Concealers. They are inexpensive, come in a full range of colors, and are perfect for the quick fix.
Foundation: For my foundation choice, I have to make sure to select something that captures that fresh, natural skin look. My absolute favorite, light bodied, semi-sheer foundation is the Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Fluid Foundation. It provides a thin layer that looks like a second skin, helping to even out tone without covering everything in a solid layer. My favorite tool for this product is either a dual fiber brush, or a soft kabuki. Working in soft circular motions, I gently buff the fluid into the skin for the most natural, flawless finish. In areas that require more coverage, a damp BeautyBlender or sponge is used to lightly pat more product on and blend into the surrounding area.
Cheeks: Again keeping in line with the natural appearance, I prefer to use a cream blush as it tends to look more like skin than a matte powder. I use just a hint of the Beach Tint from Becca, adding this to the apples of the cheeks and softly blending out with my fingertips along the cheek bone. I do not want the heavy blush that is common in evening looks, but rather am trying to just add a bit of color back into to the skin. This product comes in a variation of shades, depending on the skin tone, but for this look I feel that the shade Guava would be perfect for the desired look. This style does not utilize the prominent highlight and contour that we see everywhere these days, however a very light dusting of the Kevyn Aucoin Celestial Powder in Candlelight would add a radiant glow to the entire face. Using a fluffy, natural bristle fan brush I just very lightly sweep it along the cheek bones.
Eyes: Something that I particularly like about this look is the lack of heavy eye makeup. No smokey eye, no heavy cat eye liner, it is just simple and clean. Using the Viseart 01 Matte Palette, I apply the second to lightest shade, a subtle nude, to the entire lid. Then using the lightest shade in the second row, which is a light, warm brown, I very softly apply this in the crease with a blending brush. And then using the lightest shade in the last row, a medium neutral brown, I use a pencil liner brush to just very faintly smudge under the eye, starting at the outer corner and blending in towards the middle to add a tiny bit of definition. Lashes are not a necessity for such a simple look, but if I want to add a little bit of extra flair I will apply my favorite natural strip lashes, the Ardell 101. Using a very small angle brush, I sweep the Inglot AMC Gel Liner in 77 (Black) along the top lashline, creating a thin line for just a bit of extra definition, while also camouflaging the band. A coat of mascara blends the natural lashes into the strip lashes, and a light sweep over the bottom lashes ensures the look is not too top heavy. I line the waterline with a white eyeliner, to make the eyes look brighter, and more open.
Lips: For that bold lip, I use Stila’s Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick due to the rich color and impressive staying power. When wearing to any type of event, whether it be a prestigious award ceremony or a simple lunch date, you won’t have to worry about touching up. The shade Fiery would be a perfect, vibrant red for this look. They do dry matte, so I would add the tiniest bit of Rosebud Salve to rehydrate the lips and bring back some luster without making them too glossy.
Brows: I find the brows to be a focal point of this look, just as the bold lips are. I run a clean mascara wand through the brows, bringing them into their proper shape. Taking an angled brow brush, I lightly begin combing in a shade from the Senna Brow Book that matches her brow color. Using short strokes for a softer appearance, I work along the bottom of her brow into the tail end, bring it to a soft point. I then use a slightly lighter color, and do the same along the top half, also blending it in with the darker shade. This helps keep a bit more depth in the brows, rather than making them into a single, solid color. I then comb them back into shape using a very light brow pomade, also from the Senna Brow Book, to help keep them in place.
Setting: I want to make sure that I do not make the skin look too dry or matte, but keep a slight dewiness. I lightly set with RCMA No Color Powder, concentrating on areas that might experience creasing. I spray a small fluffy brush with setting spray, dip it in the powder, and lightly pat it into the areas where I need to make sure the makeup really stays in place (under the eyes, smile lines, super oily areas, etc). Once this dries, I dust off the excess powder and make sure there are no remnants. I mist the face with Skindinavia’s Bridal Finish Spray to really lock everything in place, and give a final spritz of Rosewater to make sure I bring the dewiness back to the skin.
The finished result is a clean, fresh look that still makes a statement. It displays a confidence in your own skin by embracing and accentuating your already glamorous features. As an artist and makeup lover, I fully admit to loving some heavier makeup styles. I love a dark, vampy lip color. I love a deep smokey eye. I love cheek bones that are highlighted to absolute perfection. But nothing compares to the feeling of having my breath stolen the way it is when I see an artfully executed natural makeup.
We may go through some questionable phases, and the red carpet has become a place where people push the boundaries of fashion (see: Lil’ Kim). But while trends come and go, we can always count on these events to bring back the timeless looks as well. For every overly sculpted, plastic looking makeup on the carpet we also see one that harkens back to the screen sirens of the past. I feel that it provides us with a reminder that no matter what trends may be prominent at the time, we should always embrace our natural beauty because it never goes out of style. And I believe that we can always use this reminder. In the end, the red carpet is and always will be a place where we look to for inspiration.