The best makeup from Paris fashion week was at Givenchy’s SS14 RTW women’s show. Every three or four models to walk the runway wore elaborate crystal masks that engulfed the face entirely, save for a patch of black netting over the eyes. Makeup artist Pat McGrath and her team glued crystals one by one to the faces of the models in a process that took 9 hours on the day of the show.
The effect was chilling and awesome.
It was easy to get swept away watching the show; the fashion was the best seen from Givenchy in a while. But it was more than that. The jeweled masks, the multi-luxury-car pile-up in the middle of the stage and gorgeous, melancholy music (Time Lapse by Ludovico Einaudi) evoked all kinds of emotions of wistfulness, regret, and passion.
You can watch it here.
The ambiance was charged and intense. The mood was spooky and doleful. It is the perfect inspiration for Halloween and its resident ghouls.
And so, this year my Halloween costume is a sequined mask à la Pat McGrath for Givenchy.
However, if I am going to immerse myself in thousands of sequins for the sake of a costume, I want to be able to savor my handiwork for years to come. I definitely don’t want to be washing it down the drain at the end of the night.
Besides, I need easy removability for eating and drinking at my Halloween party. Sequins are evidently not advantageous to the digestive system when swallowed.
It’s time for a practical solution to an impractical makeup look: the mesh-lined sequin mask. Here’s how to make your own.
You are going to need:
- 0.5 meters of black mesh netting
- Fabric scissors
- A very small needle
- Black thread
- A few hundred sequins in your favorite colors
- Seed beads in coordinating colors
- Black elastic or black silk ribbon for the fastener
- Earrings and bobbles and buttons for the ears
Start by cutting out the mesh into five pieces – one for the forehead, one for the eyes, one for the cheekbones, one for the nose, and one for the mouth and chin. You can follow the pattern I made, trimming it to fit the specifications of your face. The pattern is designed to be cut from a fold in the fabric to ensure a symmetrical result.
Next, stitch together the lower half of the mask by attaching the cheekbone, nose, and mouth/chin pieces of the mask. Leave the eye piece free, since we’ll be adding it last.
Now you are ready to start adding sequins and beads. I liked the combination of a few different colors of sequins to add dimension to the final result. I used darker colors where shadows tend to hit the face, such as around the eyes, under the nose, and around the jawline.
I attached sequins with two techniques. The first is the simplest – I drew the needle from the underside of the mesh to the front, threaded on a sequin, then drew the needle back down to the underside just next to sequin. Then I repeated the process.
The second technique involved adding a seed bead. I drew the needle from the underside of the mesh to the front, then threaded on both a sequin and a seed bead. I then brought the needle back down through the hole in the middle of the sequin, being careful that the bead remained secured in place.
Thus I beaded the masks entirely, leaving the eye piece free.
Now the eye piece is very large because I wanted a double layer of mesh for extra depth and darkness over the eyes. So the next step is to fold it in half horizontally and stitch it on top of the forehead and nose/chin piece with about an inch of overlap on each side.
Next, I stitched around the perimeter of the entire mask with a simple running stitch, then tightened the thread. This gave a bit of 3D structure and helped the mask stay in place on the face.
Finally, I attached the black elastic to the top of the cheekbone piece. And the mask is done!
My face is going to be covered by a mask, so the makeup for this costume is going to be pretty simple. Here is a photo of one of the non-masked models from the show.
The look is very natural. The skin is well-concealed with significant light reflection and highlighter. All of the tones used are close to the natural color of the skin.
I choose to recreate this look in tones close to my skin color: pale peach. For foundation, I choose Le Blanc by Chanel in BR10. For nails, Le Vernis de Chanel in 87 Flamme Rose. For eyes, I used Tom Ford’s Cream Color For Eyes in 06 Escapade on the upper eyelid and cheekbones. Then I lined my upper and lower lash line and waterline with Chanel’s Stylo Yeux Waterproof in 68 Or Rose.
No mascara, because we are being chic here.
Putting It Together
This is the fun part. Grab your Givenchy jumpsuit. If you seem to have misplaced it, any sleek black drape-y dress will do it. I wore a vintage silk floor-length dress from the 1970’s that my New Yorker Oma gave me.
Decorate your ears. All of the models had dangly earrings as well as all kinds of bobbles glued to the tops and insides of the ears. I bought some buttons at the craft store which I then artistically attached with rounds of scotch tape. It worked great, but if you want to be elegant, eyelash glue would be the way to go.
Slip on some flat shoes. The models at Givenchy were wearing luxe patent leather sandals. Enjoy the delicious reprieve from your platform heels of years past and ensure a comfortable commute to and from your Halloween party.
Mess up your hair. I washed and rough-dried mine, then just neglected to brush. I’m going for a flyaway, but shiny look. Part it deeply on one side, then push it behind your ears and down your back to show off your cool ear decoration.
Add chunky bracelets, over-sized rings, and a sequined handbag, then for the defining touch, put on your mask.
An haute couture technique for a ready-to-wear look, all for under 20€.