Backstage Beauty: Derek Lam’s Makeup Artists Explain How to Achieve the Perfect Smoky Eye

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Photo: Blake Hamilton

Photographer Blake Hamilton continues shooting fully made-up faces backstage at the shows for us this season. Today, we examine Derek Lam's feminine, librarian-inspired makeup look created by Estée Lauder's Tom Pecheux. "You think about a woman going to this really beautiful cocktail party where everybody’s buttoned up, in black tie, and is very conservative, and she walks in in this really sexy dress with a bunny on her head you know, something just  a little skewed," Estée Lauder's global makeup stylist Rick DiCecca tells us before the show. "[Lam] did a very dark, very strong, very masculine brow for spring, and there was a juxtaposition between masculine and feminine. This season it’s very feminine."

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Eyes

"It’s almost like a rock-and-roll eye, that messy smokiness, but no liner so it remains more feminine and less stark. We actually painted lashes under the eye with a very fine lip brush because the lights are so bright you want some definition. You just wet it and dip it in powder. It won’t be visible on the runway, but if you see it up close you’ll definitely see the distinct lines. It’s not something i personally would tell a client to do — it’s, how do you take it from the runway to realway? For realway, I would omit that, but I would still do the smokiness underneath.

You could do brown shadow and bronzer, mixed together, on the eye, but you want to bring it into the crease and pull it towards the outer corner of the eye, and then connect it underneath. What I always tell people to do is start the line on the bottom first and pull it from the center of the eye up toward the outer tip of the brow. That gives you the angle that you need so when you fill in the rest of the shadow you connect it, and you have that sort of cat-eye.

Tom has had this philosophy, for as long as I can remember, where he always does darker mascara on the top lashes and a lighter mascara on the bottom. And he feels — and it’s true — that it really lifts the eye up. So you still have a little bit  going on under the eyes, but you don’t want to do black there because especially if your lashes are long, it creates a shadow, so it makes you look darker under the eye.  So that’s why his philosophy is you always do something lighter. We used black on the top lashes and brown on the bottom. And we have a product launching in April, that you can pre-order on esteelauder.com, that has black on one end and a brown on the other. It's the same formula but different brushes."

Brows

"Because the look is a little bit more feminine, Tom didn’t do that heavy frame. He just brushed them up, groomed them, tweezed a few hairs if they needed it to keep the shape nice. We used a little brow wax to keep them in place. But overall, there was no color put in them unless the girl had bleached them — in that case we did a little bit of brown mascara so you can sort of get that definition back without looking like you have powder or pencil."

Cheeks

"These are brand new blushes. Tom mixed Brazen Bronze and Alluring Rose, so kind of a warm and a cool neutralized, but he did it in a very sort of sculpted way. He didn't do a real hard, bright cheek — it’s very sort of softly sculpted. You need that sort of balance between the dark heavy eyes and the pale lips — you don’t want to do a lot of blush."

Lips

"The lips were kind of this creamy pink, so we started with this pink color here, Crystal Pink, and then he used this sort of creamy vanilla shade over it. And we used a white powder to really matte it down. It's a very matte lip."