Behind The Scenes: Talking Beauty Backstage At The Giorgio Armani SS18 Catwalk Show

SARAH HALLIWELL gets a behind the scenes look at GIORGIO ARMANI‘s beauty looks for their SS18 show in Milan …


In September we headed to Milan to see the Giorgio Armani SS18 catwalk show, held at the Armani Teatro – yes, this brand has its very own show space within its HQ, housed in a vast industrial building (once a chocolate factory) and designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Stark, solidly concrete and mutely, tastefully grey, the building is striking in its minimalism and austere functionality. There is something very beautiful in its pared-backness.


At the back of the building we get through fierce security and past made-up models on their phones, smoking. At Armani, a Runway beauty collection is created almost instantly, devised behind the scenes and available online within two weeks – the focus this season is on multi-usage colour, with a highlighter for eyes and face, lip balm to enhance and add sheen, and pops of fuchsia. An exclusive shade of Lip Magnet (no.511 Fatale) can be used as a stain or full-on lip and is a bit pink, a bit beige, a bit red – it will suit everyone.


The beauty look is centred around a monochrome idea, and playing with light and dark. Short cropped jet-black wigs and shafts of white light on faces makes the girls look otherworldly, and unifies a catwalk that was brimful of ideas and colourful optimism, from veils and pompoms to giant 80s-style earrings, sequins and bright candy colours.

Later in the day, we talked to Linda Cantello, the international make-up artist for Armani and veteran of magazine covers, shows and inspirational shoots since the 1980s. She talks of how “Mr Armani plants an idea in your head” when working to create the make-up look for a show. “I realised he wanted something like I used to do in the 90s; something very painterly, with the placement of highlight like you would get in a painting. It’s the idea of not doing perfect make-up, and playing with light and shadow.”


Cantello goes on to talk about the current mood in beauty, and though she says it’s her “soapbox”, it’s interesting to hear the views of a long-time expert in the industry. “Who says we have to be perfect – some tutorial? You look at someone who’s never put make-up on anyone else in their life doing a tutorial using 50 products. I think it’s terrible – the whole point about make-up is it’s free and liberating – we can play with it and it comes off. It’s not like a tattoo, it’s not like a haircut. We’re being pushed into this area where there are a lot of kids who feel that they have to be perfect, that they have to apply their make-up in a perfect way, that they have to have perfect bodies, a perfect life… and it’s all connected. And I think, if I can start by saying, ‘No, you can do imperfect make-up’, then it’s a start. It’s not just about a smudgy lip – you have to think about why it’s ok to have a smudgy lip and take it a step further. Because I feel that we’re living in such crazy times, and I feel so bad for young kids. I look at shows in New York and feel there’s nothing new or inspiring. I look back at all the things I’ve done, and they’re just either doing what I did or what other people have done and there’s nothing new or fresh. And I think part of that comes from the fact that we’re lost in this whole digital age, where the weirdest people have a voice – it’s not experts at all. Where do the experts go? We have to make a stand. Using 20 products just on the skin is so not on.”

What’s new to look out for? The Armani Power Fabric cushion, on the way in January is Cantello’s tip. She is refreshingly honest about being sceptical about cushion foundations at first – “we said we would never do one”. “We realised that actually most of the cushions are basically tinted moisturiser and are made by the same manufacturer. So we said, let’s do a cushion and make it better than all the others. So this is made in France and it’s a foundation with buildable coverage, very clean, and it’s fashiony – like an accessory.”

Sarah Halliwell

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