Makeup artists have a special perspective at fashion shows: they are commissioned to produce the vision of the stylist and designer, but (other than the key artist) typically aren’t allowed input to influence a certain look. They play an intimate role in the production of the show while having the ability to maintain perspective of the fashion at hand. With the conclusion of two of Portland’s major fashion events this fall—Portland Fashion Week and FASHIONxt—I picked the brains of two makeup artists who worked these shows on where they think we are and where we might be headed in Portland fashion.
Madeline Roosevelt worked behind the scenes on the final night of Portland Fashion Week painting faces. When asked to compare this year to seasons past, she described the show as much more organized. “Everything was charted out,” she said, and models would move through a kind of conveyor belt of makeup styling, with each artist focusing on skin, eyes or lips. Madeline was in charge of the face, making sure foundation, highlights and contour were perfect. One look was simple and fresh, one featured a nude lip and smoky eye and another was gaunt and avant-garde.
When comparing Portland to the greater fashion world, Madeline notes that that there is a lot of talent in Portland, but some artists don’t know how to execute their visions well. In Portland, Roosevelt feels like there are some good ideas, but the quality is off.
“You see photos and think ‘that’s a great piece,’ but really the photo doesn’t give it justice.” She has found that up close it’s easy to see that the piece could be better. When asked what could be done in Portland to produce better work, she said that people could try harder and do more research.
“It is a combination of things,” Madeline said. “Maybe it’s the model. Or the having the eye. I see a beautiful piece but the outfit does not go with the person wearing it. Sometimes it doesn’t display well.” When the pieces do work, however, the result is well worth the trip.
Raphael Ocasio also worked Portland Fashion Week as makeup artist and FASHIONxt as assistant to the key makeup artist Jamie O’Neill, owner of Portland-based makeup company Skull Sugar. He was in charge of eyes and brows and had the final look at models at FASHIONxt. Raphael thrived off the full-throttle atmosphere of the shows and has an optimistic view of where Portland fashion is headed.
“Some of the shows at Portland Fashion Week really gave me hope,” he said, adding that he feels there is better awareness about fashion here and more outlets for people to showcase their work. He appreciated the “hippie couture” looks at Portland Fashion Week and feels like some of these shows actually influence how women in Portland dress.
The fluffy, flowing looks at Michael Costello were a hit. Raphael found Costello to be one of his favorites, along with Seth Aaron and Hello Eliza—a pop-art line by Eliza Harrison that volleys from metallic miniskirts to sheer neon to studded platform shoes paired with spandex polka dots.
“The crowd response to Hello Eliza…I was floored,” Raphael said. “How she executed this show, with the lime green bangs, the Lil Kim hair colors, big gaudy chains, the tiger fur…the girl is tripping out!” This kind of energetic show bucks the eerily familiar feel that so many designers can fall in to.
“Women in Portland are picking up fashion faster [than men]” Raphael said. He feels that men here are comfortable, and a little afraid of change–a criticism easily leveled against Portland fashion as a whole just a few short years ago. Like many women here, the new Portland fashion is more confident, more colorful and more excited about self expression.