Over the last few seasons, Hood by Air has become not only one of the hottest tickets at New York Fashion Week but also home to some of the best, most original beauty looks coming down the runway. "Beauty" even feels like a weird word to use here, because the hair and makeup isn't pretty in the way that a classic red lip or a perfectly smoked-out eye is. Last season, the stylists warped the models' features by putting stockings over their heads and sketching cheekbones and brows on top of that. Beauty at Hood by Air isn't always attractive. It's beautiful because it's unsettling and visceral.
At its spring 2016 show on Sunday morning, the brand certainly delivered on that front, putting an uncomfortable twist on two pop culture mainstays: "Friends" and all things Kardashian.
"The aesthetic of Hood by Air was infused by cosmetic surgery and scarring," explained hairstylist Amy Farid, who was working with Bumble & Bumble backstage. "We're interpreting that by using the zigzag part to mimic a scar, and also [having] fun and [making] it beautiful by referencing 'Friends.'"
Exactly: Bodily pain cheekily superimposed on the most feel-good of popular '90s sitcoms. Both guys and girls received the zigzag treatment, with some of the longer-haired models sporting a half-ponytail accented by silver chrome hair clips reading "HBA" and "69." ("So cute," Farid said of the accessories, which Hood by Air designer Shayne Oliver had first presented to her at the hair test.)
On the makeup side of the backstage setup, the MAC team was busy contouring the hell out of the models' faces — painting in big, messy strokes, but not blending. The result was something akin to the lines you see drawn onto someone's face before cosmetic surgery, which is really just a weightier and more permanent alternative to facial shaping with makeup. The whole point of contouring is to create the illusion of a naturally sculpted bone structure; leaving streaks of brown and beige on the cheekbones shows how the sausage gets made, and it turns out the ingredients are 100 percent artificial. But most young people who wear makeup already knew that, so exposing the seams here doesn't have to be jarring. It can also be perversely fun.
To go along with the surgical theme, the nail artist Mar y Sol used Formula X in White Matter to create long nails dressed up with Band-Aids, which she wrapped around the base of the nail. "This girl, she cut her cuticle and thought it would be fabulous to cover them all," she said of the look's inspiration. "She's thinking, 'I'm not going to wear one Band-Aid! I'll make it chic!'"
Chic, sure. Also a little desperate and very familiar.