Can Real Girls Pull Off Runway Beauty Looks?

We’re only halfway through Fashion Month, but we’ve already had plenty of wowza beauty moments. That Rodarte hair rosette? Michael Kors’ two-tone eyes? Priceless. As always, while we looked in awe at these high-impact hair and makeup looks, we had to pause and bring ourselves back down to Earth: There’s just no way these looks could work IRL, right?

Looks like it’s time for another round of Runway vs. Real Girl! We took two of the most stunning, slightly off-the-wall looks — Marc by Marc Jacobs’ maxed-out curls and lacquered lip, plus Jason Wu’s pastel eyes and origami hair — and had the pros recreate them on our brave victims…er, real girls. Read on to see if they pulled it off, and to get the scoop on how these bananas beauty looks came together.


Our real girl model Emily, a style blogger and buyer for Beacon’s Closet, is about to go from vintage vixen to straight-up siren.


Ahhh, so maybe this Jason Wu model is whereAmanda Seyfried got the bright idea for her cool cat-eye at the Oscars. 

Photo: Maria Valentino/MCV Photo


While it may look simple from the front, this ‘do is actually a whole lotta hair origami in the back. Noelle Chen of DopDop Salon, working with Kérastase, describes it as a “very polished, modern look that also has a nod to the retro with its snood-like silhouette.” To start, she blew out Emily’s hair to make it straight and smooth, then center-parted it. She then took all of the hair at the nape of her neck and camouflaged it by creating a French braid that twists back and around.


Once the braid lifted off the scalp, she then twisted it in on itself and pinned in place.


Taking the top section, Chen divided it into two separate horizontal pieces. She took the lower section and combed it down smoothly, then hit it with a generous amount of Kérastase Resistance Double Force Hairspray and tucked the ends under the braid to pin in place and conceal the plait. She continued to wrap the hair back and forth, tucking and pinning in place over the braid until all of the hair was pinned up.


The remaining top section was then split into two pieces, and combed back to crisscross over top of the rest of the updo. After tucking and pinning the ends of the section underneath the style, Chen used even more hairspray to keep the hair from separating.


She finished the look by applying two pumps ofKérastase Elixir Ultime Moringa Immortel into her hands, smoothing it over the surface of the hair to create a shiny finish. The finishing touch: two metallic barrettes, placed along the hair’s diagonal slant.


Makeup artist Katie Mellinger described the makeup look, a graphic and colorful cat-eye, as “what would happen if a robot went to a David Bowie concert on Easter: future and metals and glam rock and pastels.” To start, Mellinger applied Smashbox Limitless Eyeliner in Amethyst to the top and bottom lash lines.


Blending together equal parts of Shiseido Shimmering Cream Eye Color in Angel and Purple Dawn on the back of her hand, Mellinger applied the mixture to the lid using an angled fluffy brush, drawing it out to create the winged look. She then used a smaller fluffy brush to apply the shadow concoction to the lower lash line, drawing it up and around to connect it to the wing. She finished by setting the cream shadow with the mid-tone in the Shiseido Luminizing Satin Eye Color Trio in Punky Blues and addedDior Diorshow Mascara to top and bottom lashes.


With an eye look this bold, Mellinger says the lip look needed to be mega-toned down. So, she applied some moisturizer to Emily’s lips, then used a brush to lightly paint on some sheer foundation. Cheeks were lightly contoured with a sculpting powder, and brows were brushed with a coat of clear mascara to tame and hold in place.


“The eye is awesome,” says Mellinger. “I can totally see someone wearing this for a night out on the town, but for day-to-day, this look can be a bit too much. Not so much because of the color, but because it is just so much eye.” If you like the look but don’t want to channel a runway model at your office, Mellinger suggests grabbing a pastel-hued eye pencil and smudging it into your upper and lower lash lines using a small brush. Create a smaller wing at the corner and finish off with some mascara.


“I really love this look and think it’s completely wearable in the real world,” says Chen. Creating it in the real world, however, may not be so feasible — it involves so much tucking and pinning that unless you are Wonder Woman with your coiff, there’s no way you’ll be able to achieve the precise folding and placement needed to pull it off. Chen says a more manageable twist on this ‘do is to ditch all the tucking and instead just do a clean ponytail.

She advises creating a center part in your hair, then another part perpendicular to that, going from the top of the ear to the other top of the ear. Take all the hair in the back and tie it up in a sleek, low ponytail at the center nape of the neck. Then, just follow the steps to crisscross your hair from the original style. She recommends wrapping the ends of those sections around the base of the ponytail to get rid of excess length. “This do-it-yourself look still has the same elements of the original style without needing a friend to help accomplish it,” she explains.


“I like to play around with my hair, but usually I just wear it down and parted in the middle,” says Emily. “I don’t do a totally pulled-back look very often, so it was cool to see. It was a bit over-the-top, though, because there were something like 50 bobby pins in there holding it all together! The makeup was cool — I like to do a cat-eye liner, and the shadow was kind of in the shape. I’ve actually tried to do something like this before, so I think it would be something I would try again.”

“I felt slightly strange — I think it made my face look harsh,” says Emily of her look. “After we finished shooting, I took the hair out because I couldn’t move my head at all — it was so tight it was actually a bit painful! I would have liked to have left it all day because it looked really cool. I left the makeup on, though and I got a few stares. I think that was mostly because it was pretty intense makeup for what I was wearing, and it was the middle of the day.”


Budding accessories designer Inez (check out her cool turbans here) already has a pretty righteous ‘do as is, but we’re about to take it to the next level.


If curls could feel envy, we think any coils in the vicinity of this glorious Marc by Marc Jacobs mane would be radiating pure, unadulterated jealousy. 

Photo: Maria Valentino/MCV Photo


To start this look, Cutler stylist Daniela Schult added some volume mousse (Redken Guts 10 Volume Spray Foam) to Inez’s hair, then blew it out.


Schult used a smaller curling iron to curl two-inch sections all over the head, pinning each curl as she finished to help it set.


Once the curls had set, she created a deep side-part and used a brush to smooth the roots.


To really pump up the volume, Schult backcombed the hair section by section.”Backcombing adds an edge and brings the ‘big hair’ to the next level,” says Schult. “It also gives this undone feel to it.” Once the desired volume was achieved, she created a delicate front “swoop” of hair and pinned in place with a bobby pin.


“To me, this makeup look is like the ’40s had a baby with Saturday Night Fever — with a modern twist, of course,” says Mellinger of the look she re-created. She used a small fluffy brush to applyShimmering Cream Eye Color in Sable to the upper lid, placing the color up to the crease and across the lower lash line.


She then used the Caviar shade of the cream shadow across the outer third of the upper lash line, blending it to add definition. She applied mascara to the top lashes only. Brows were defined with powder and brushed up.


The real showstopper here is the lip — Mellinger used Shiseido’s Lacquer Rouge in Drama, the same color used at the Marc by Marc Jacobs show.


“I love the diversity of this hairstyle. It has many elements to it — it is voluminous without being outdated,” says Schult. “It’s very modern, yet has this vintage feel to it. A big wavy, disheveled head of hair can look polished when you pair it with a low side-part and pin it to the side. I think it would be slightly out of place at the office, but it’s perfect for a party or going out — it’s sexy and playful.” 

“I believe this look is incredibly wearable in the real world,” adds Mellinger. “My favorite part about this look is that it makes a statement without being overly complex. It proves that a smoky eye doesn’t have to be complicated in order to look amazing. And a red lip is just never wrong. Never. Except maybe at the gym. 

“Personally, I love this look and would wear it anywhere, but a super-lacquered lip can be difficult to maintain. For something with more staying power, a real girl may consider doing a matte lip instead. It will give a more ’60s vibe, but the pigments in a matte lipstick last longer and are less likely to move.”


“I honestly love the look and every single thing about it,” says Inez. “I wish I could walk around NYC every single morning showing off my big hair and beautiful lip color!  If it wasn’t for the shoot, I don’t think I’d attempt to recreate it because I wouldn’t know how to. Being able to work with the pros and get in-depth advice on the steps made me feel more confident to do it myself.”

“I did get approached by a person asking me about my lip color and another asking me where I got my turban. I definitely got more looks from random strangers on the streets and subways. Is it silly that I felt more attractive? I mean, I did get a lot more looks from the boys. The hair and lips excited me and I probably started to act the ‘part’ — confidence and swag! I definitely will do this on my own. In fact, I already have been.”

Photographed by 

Makeup by Katie Mellinger;

Hair by Noelle Chen for Kérastase and Daniela Schult for Cutler Salon;

Models: Emily Theobald and Inez Galvez.

Click HERE to read more from Refinery29.

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