Nine Minutes With Luis Casco, Lead Makeup Artist for All of Moscow Fashion Week

As the global beauty ambassador for Mary Kay, he's tasked with creating the makeup looks for all (!) of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia's shows.
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As the global beauty ambassador for Mary Kay, he's tasked with creating the makeup looks for all (!) of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia's shows.
Luis Casco. Photo: Photo: @mkrussia/Instagram

Luis Casco. Photo: Photo: @mkrussia/Instagram

After tackling the spring 2017 shows in New York, London and Milan and Paris, we've kept the fashion train rolling all the way through to Moscow, where the 33rd season of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia (#MBFWRussia) is currently underway in the nation's capital.

We flew from New York to Moscow to cover the shows, which we'll be doing until the event wraps up on Tuesday. 

On my very first day here at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia, I was ushered into the photo pit to watch a show called Hard 2.0, which served as a compilation of work from the students at the Moscow-based Design School of Higher School of Economics. Before I even took notice of the clothes, I was struck by the presentation's beauty look: each model's face was covered in what appeared to be a thick coating of gold paint. Later, I saw heavy black smoky eyes dusted with a fairy-like smattering of glitter, and the most sublime, dewy highlight I only wish I could replicate myself. The makeup, like many of collections, has been larger-than-life here, with each beauty look taking on a life independent of the clothing it complements.

International makeup artist Luis Casco, who works as the global beauty ambassador for Mary Kay, has been behind the makeup here in Moscow. Casco, a native of El Salvador, first cut this teeth in Miami, then in Paris where he attended Parsons before moving to New York City. He now lives in Los Angeles, traveling back to New York for three months out of the year to resume his role as the lead makeup artist for "Project Runway." Casco joined the Mary Kay team this past June and has been using the products exclusively ever since, including all throughout New York Fashion Week's spring 2017 shows

But MBFW Russia is an entirely different animal than NYFW, where designers plan out their shows's beauty looks as thoroughly as they do their garments. In Moscow, all the presentations are held in one location, back to back to back, and Casco has been tasked with creating and executing the makeup looks for every single one of them. I spoke to Casco when he had a few minutes — nine, to be specific — about the differences between MBFW Russia and NYFW, the week's beauty trends and how to get those Pat McGrath-friendly glitter lips in a pinch. Read our short-'n'-sweet interview below.

A model backstage at Yasya Minochkina's spring 2017 show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia on Friday. Photo: Christian Vierig/Getty Images

A model backstage at Yasya Minochkina's spring 2017 show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia on Friday. Photo: Christian Vierig/Getty Images

Has this been your first season working here in Moscow?

This is my first season. It's crazy, in a good way. It's kind of what New York used to be. I did the tents — I really loved the shows at Lincoln Center. I like Skylight [Clarkson Square]. I do a show there at least once a season. At the last shows, I did Lela Rose and Tracy Reese. Tracy Reese was at a cemetery in the Lower East Side. We had [models of] every size, every age. And then Lela Rose was on the street in Soho, which is a whole other trend now with Ralph Lauren and Rebecca Minkoff. [MBFW Russia] is cool because it's all here, all in one place. 

I started with couture right in the late '90s, and we used to do the stuff that we're doing here and we're not really doing in New York [anymore]. You have The Blonds and Jeremy Scott and a few people who have more fun, but it's nothing like I'm doing here. We turned a girl's [face] into gold.

How does this backstage environment compare to that of New York as it is now?

I think that New York is more jaded, in a way; everyone has seen it all. Here, I'm with Mary Kay, and we're able to use it for this kind of stuff. You [might think], "Does Mary Kay have the [products] to cover a face in gold?" And we actually do. In New York, you do a makeup test before and you plan it out a little bit more, so it's a more constricted — whereas here, the designers could have say [they want] gold eye shadow and I end up doing purple. It's really free-flowing.

A model backstage at Vassa & Co.'s spring 2017 show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia on Thursday. Photo: Christian Vierig/Getty Images

A model backstage at Vassa & Co.'s spring 2017 show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia on Thursday. Photo: Christian Vierig/Getty Images

What beauty trends have you picked up on across the shows?

Every single show has been different. Another thing that's interesting is that when you think of spring in New York, you think of skin, a little glow, nudes, gloss — and it's been like that for a lot of seasons. Here, it's black lips, heavy brows and a heavy contour. I think the line of summer makeup and winter makeup here is a little bit blurred. We've done a lot of glossy lids, which, as you know, works great for a show or a picture, but it doesn't work for real, so there's a little bit of that fantasy.

How were you able to do the glitter lips, which I've seen at a few shows now?

I was able to do it in a way that we do it in the States. I'm the lead artist for "Project Runway"; I've been on it for four seasons. That's more like this. Having done "Project Runway," I'm able to come here and [know that] the way to do [glitter lips] quickly is to put the glitter on a little plate and have the girls kiss the plate as they go out on the runway. 

Some of the [makeup] you see here, you don't see anywhere. It's what it used to be, and it's not like that anymore. The magnitude of this place is really cool.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Disclosure: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia paid for my travel and accommodations to attend and cover the event.

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