Alexander Wang’s Collection 1 Beauty Look Is a Love Letter to America

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The eternal maverick, Alexander Wang made headlines earlier this year when he made the decision to pull his show out of the fashion week line-up, choosing instead to present his latest designs in June rather than September and February. And to mark this move, his show—aptly titled “Collection 1”—came to represent something like a clean slate. “Today marks a new beginning, a new identity and a new day for my brand,” he wrote in his show notes. “I share with you my pride in being an American with immigrant roots and calling this wonderful inspiring city of New York my home.”

His muse may have been Gun N’ Roses’ Axl Rose (because who’s more American than Axl Rose?), but amid the rock ‘n’ roll-inspired sportswear, the designer paid tribute to his Taiwanese-American heritage, referencing traditional qipao garments with mandarin-collared tops and, in a more blatant move, stamping “Chinatown” down the leg of multiple pairs of pants. Translated to beauty, his vision of America meant a graphic interpretation of the flag.

For seven of the models, Diane Kendal, lead makeup artist for Nars, lined their faces with thin washi tape, decorated empty spaces with star-shaped stickers (both were purchased from a crafts store), painted over everything with a Nars Flibuste Velvet Shadow Stick in black, and removed the adhesives to reveal a neat “stars and stripes” effect.

“We did colors in the trial, but it looked like a football fan and [Wang] didn’t want it to look kitschy, so by keeping it black and graphic, it’s quite sophisticated,” Kendal explains. “We just wanted to celebrate Americana—it’s nearly July 4th and summer—and we really liked the idea of interpreting a monochromatic flag for some of the girls and keeping the rest really fresh.”

As for hair, Redken hair stylist Guido Palau used three Redken products—the No Blow Dry Hair Cream, Shine Flash Mist, and hair spray—to achieve straight “tough, downtown” strands, finished with Axl Rose-inspired bandanas. For a handful of the models, their hair was intricately braided (Binx Walton’s name was spelled out with hers).

“Alex always brings great hair accessories to his shows—today, we did some hair cuts, we’ve done braiding. We tried to keep some personality since there’s a great mixture in the casting, with different kinds of girls,” Palau says. “It’s Americana, it’s a little sports fanatic, it’s a little Axl Rose.”

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