NY Fashion Week: a Goal Gets Real
Vivian Yeh, owner of four locations in the Houston area (three Josephine’s Salons and Spas as well as Posh Salon), has always loved makeup and how it can transform her clients’ faces. She has taken many of Aveda’s makeup classes, and recently decided to complete the course for runway makeup.
“I had a personal goal to get out of my comfort zone and represent the salon in an artistic way,” Yeh says. “I had already completed Aveda’s makeup foundation classes, so I was eligible to take the runway class with Global Makeup Director Janell Geason.”
Upon completion of the two-day class in Minneapolis, Yeh became part of the Aveda makeup team. She let Geason know her availability during New York Fashion Week, and the next thing she knew, she was on a plane to New York City.
Crammed with Glam
This September, the Aveda makeup team did 14-15 shows with Geason leading a team of 30 makeup artists.
Each artist does one to two models at every show. “You can’t do more than that because the timeframe is so short,” Yeh says.
“We work in really tight spaces at the same time the hair is being done. So while the stylists are working on the hair, we’re on our knees on the floor doing the makeup.”
Throw in a couple nail techs and you have a chaotic situation. But Yeh says the chaos breeds team work. “We all work together and it’s so much fun.”
But first, Geason works with the designers to decide what the model’s look will be. She demonstrates the makeup on a model and the team then follows suit.
“Every day, we bring our own kit with makeup, tools, brushes, applicators, etc.,” Yeh says. “I use a makeup brush cleaner in between models, but at night, I came back to my hotel and washed everything, then laid them out to dry.”
Due to an early call time one morning, Yeh’s brushes weren’t fully dry, so she used the blow drier to finish the job—a mistake she won’t make again.
“It burnt my makeup brushes—that was an experience!”
Every day Yeh was at NYFW, she had at least one show to work—some days, two shows and one day, three. And every show was a new experience.
“I thought we’d always be working with Aveda hair stylists, but that wasn’t always the case,” she says. “At several shows, the hair team was with another company, and it was very different. But they all had a good sense of team work and everyone had to work in a small space, so you just bump into each other and get over it.”
Yeh says the designers themselves were surprisingly calm, and she enjoyed the variety of shows she participated in.
“One of my favorite shows was Nike Kids Rock, which featured 90 kids ranging from toddlers to tweens,” she says. “I also enjoyed the Kyboe show. They’re a watch designer. They put girls in simple dresses and guys in plain linen pants—and nothing else.”
It was here Yeh learned anytime a body part is showing, whether it’s an elbow, a knee or an entire chest, it needs to be lotioned so the skin doesn’t look ashy.
“So I had to lotion topless male models—not a bad day,” she laughs.
Inspiration All Around
Yeh had many memorable and inspiring experiences at NYFW, but says she was most inspired by the audiences who came to watch the shows.
“When I’m out there in the audience with them, I realize it’s not about clothes or famous names—it’s about expressing your individuality,” she says. “The people all look so good and are expressing themselves through beauty and fashion—they don’t feel the need to look like everyone else. It makes me want to bring that back to the salon.”
Even though her Houston-based clientele probably isn’t going to rock the edgy fashions New Yorkers are famous for, Yeh says it doesn’t matter what they wear or how they do their hair as long as they wear it confidently with a great attitude.
As for the makeup, Yeh says designers were looking for flawless skin, not flawless foundation.
“We prepped skin with toner and a great moisturizer, then just used tinted moisturizer and a little bit of concealer if needed,” she says. “We used a brush to apply it so it looked dewy and fresh, while evening out the skin tone.”
She says the strong brow was back on the runway as well, with almost no arch. “Some models leave their brow completely alone with no waxing,” she says.
The looks Yeh and the team created usually revolved around a strong lip and soft eyes or vice versa. “We picked one part of the face to focus on, like fuchsia lips, and kept everything else softer,” she says.
With her first NYFW under her belt, Yeh gained experience and insight to bring back to the salon.
“It’s very important to have passion,” she says. “But it’s also important to be kind. I saw some stylists (not from Aveda) make models cry in the chair because they were pulling their hair so tight.”
“You need to come in with a good, kind attitude and realize you’re not just here to do supermodels and meet celebrities,” she says.
“If you’re at Fashion Week to support your ego, it won’t work. You’re here as part of a team, and the whole show is your work—not just one look or one model.”
Yeh says there were times the team only had five minutes to prep a model, so one person worked on lips while another did eyes and another lotioned skin.
“You really need to know your craft,” she says. “You should practice every day, even if it’s not on a customer. That way, when you come to NYFW, you won’t be overwhelmed. Practice, practice, practice.”
To hone your skills, Yeh recommends practicing just lips for a while or perfecting brows or liner. “Every little thing matters,” she says. “You need to do clean, precise work.”
After having such a positive experience at NYFW, Yeh says she is considering holding a contest in her salon every year—one for eligible stylists and one for eligible makeup artists—to win a trip to NYWF. “I think it will get their creative juices going,” she says.