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Behind the Scenes

Makeup maven Alex Box captures the art of illumination at Issey Miyake spring/summer 2014, where she led the M·A·C PRO team.

“The makeup for this collection is very fresh and poetic,” says Box, backstage, on the look she crafted alongside Yoshiyuki Miyamae, Issey Miyake’s womenswear designer. “It’s about an absence of makeup and what I’ve left out. I’m playing with lights and shadow, which means creating a very fresh, blue-based look. I’m pressing in points of highlights on the skin, rather than doing just a blanket all over.”

Box achieved an opalescent, watercolor effect.

Get the look using M·A·C Face & Body Foundation.

Head over to The Thread for the complete designer dish on the show.

Qianna Smith
Photos by Ford Leland

Introducing Beauty Connections, our new series of on-the-spot, open conversations with the amazing—and very real—people behind the world’s top beauty brands.


This month we connect with skincare guru Kate Somerville, who talks about female friendships, celebrity hang-ups, a preteen son, and being called ‘bitchy.’

BEAUTY 24/7: You seem like true cheerleader for women.
KATE SOMERVILLE: I’ve actually been thinking a lot about that lately. My mom was an alcoholic who left when I was 9, and what my business has given me, more than anything, is a lot of moms—that kind of feminine love and connection I didn’t have growing up. All of the women I treat, who really share their lives with me… yes, maybe I’m giving them the gift of youth, but they give me just as much. I have to remember where it all started: connecting with and helping other women.

You’re known for touching a lot of famous faces—you probably make all your clients feel like stars.
KATE: I think it goes both ways: I also make celebrities feel like they’re accepted for the people they are on the inside. If you knew some of them—they’re so like us, they just happen to be actors. They have the same kinds of struggles as we do: kids, husbands, weight loss, weight gain, illnesses—everything!

Many of your competitors are men (Drs. Gross, Perricone, Brandt)—is it hard being a woman, even in the beauty business?
KATE: Back when I first started out—I’ll never forget this–and I was going to be acquired by a big company, at our first meeting, they asked what my goal was. I told them I wanted to be in all markets—I want an infomercial, I want to be at Nordstrom, I want to be on QVC. The man sitting next to me—who’s a genius but who comes from the old school—patted me on the knee and said, “Oh, honey, that’s just not going to happen.” Well, I loved that, because when someone says to me, “You can’t,” I say, “Watch me.”

So in other words, hop on or hop out of the way?
KATE: Since the beginning, I’ve had a vision, and I’ve stuck with that vision. It’s interesting what happens as you grow—a lot of people I meet will say, “Oh, you’re so personable and friendly,” but my staff will tell you that I can get really bitchy. I understand now how people can get the reputation of being a diva, because when you have a vision and people try to change your vision, you’re like, no, sorry—I’m not going to move off of this. And at the end of the day, if the product isn’t great, we don’t get paid!

Your business just went global [Kate recently opened her first international clinic in South Korea]; how do you maintain that personal connection with your customers?
KATE: It’s something I’m constantly aware of—I really have to rely on my staff now. Obviously, things are still “born” from me, but we have a panel of women at the clinic who have been with me for eight years. They know the culture, and they know skin—probably even better than I do now!

But more importantly, I also have an 11-year-old son, who is the best part of my life. When he was younger and I was just starting out, my husband was great about being there as a parent, which I am so grateful for. But now, the older my son gets, the more I see how much he needs his mom too—and I need him, because he fills my heart more than anything. I’m trying to balance being with him more, plus staying connected to my clients and the business. It’s definitely a lot to juggle.

Being a busy working mother must help you understand your clients’ lives on a very personal level.
KATE: That’s why my products need to WORK—quickly! I’ve always been all about that: no nonsense, cut to the chase. That’s why my packaging is the way it is. If it’s not easy—something you can throw in a bag and go—then forget it. Plus, with the clinic, we get to try everything out on the clients, talk to them about the experience. If they don’t get it, if it’s not working for them, then we don’t release it. We’re literally right there at the point of impact. We’ve had so many flops, but we just keep tweaking until we get things right.

I also get that women don’t have time for downtime or delayed healing when their skin looks weird. That’s why my products are a mix of the optimum level of active ingredients balanced with botanicals like lavender oil, apricot, almond oil and aloe. Take ExfoliKate®—there’s no other exfoliator like it out there. It will change your skin in two minutes. It’s a cult favorite for sure.

And then there’s RetAsphere™, our first retinol product. For a long time, I resisted doing a retinol product because of the irritation. But RetAsphere™ is very emollient, with pure, stable retinol encapsulated in a lipid shell. Your skin is made of lipids, so when you put the product on, it melts like butter—really getting to the root of the wrinkle.

Can you talk a little about your relationship with Nordstrom?
KATE: Oh, Nordstrom is just amazing. I chose to launch my brand with Nordstrom out of all the companies that approached me. It’s just such a perfect partnership because the Nordstrom customer is my customer—she’s fun, she’s chic, she reads the magazines. Nordstrom makes it all accessible; it’s where I shop, where I go to get my designers, but it’s still young, hip and easy.

Inspired to try Kate Somerville’s wonder products? Shop her full skincare and makeup collection at Nordstrom. And stay tuned for our next post, when we connect with Anastasia “The Brow Expert” Soare.

—Stefanie Frank

Noted runway makeup artist Lucia Pieroni devised the bold look for the Issey Miyake fall ’13 show held this morning on day 4 of Paris Fashion Week. Leading the M•A•C PRO team, she was charged with creating an aesthetic that complemented the shimmering and shadowy interaction between fabrics found in the collection cleverly dubbed ‘Hop, Step, Check.’

“Issey Miyake is known for their high-tech, choreographed shows. The clothes are always forward-thinking, so we are doing a futurist look. It’s all about an angled highlight just above the cheekbone,” says Romero J (left), senior M•A•C artist, who used eyeshadows in Nylon, Pink Opal and White Pigment to create the hyper-defined, space-inspired statement.

To get the highlight just right, a 1970s/80s blush technique was used by placing a business card slightly above the apples of the cheeks. Fresh, dewy skin along with a brush-up of the eyebrows and a clear lip balm completed the look, which is super simple and easy to re-create at home.

Issey Miyake’s womenswear designer, Yoshiyuki Miyamae (far right), doing a pre-show celebration dance with his friends from Open Reel Ensemble, an inventive musical group that performed live at the show.

Discover Issey Miyake’s Pleats Please, a Nordstrom exclusive. This floral fragrance captures the allure and innovation of the iconic Pleats Please women’s ready-to-wear creations.

–Qianna Smith
Photos by Ford Leland

New York designer Reed Krakoff is known for his clean, polished aesthetic, and the hair and makeup at his fall/winter 2013 show definitely followed suit. The models sported fresh, natural makeup by M·A·C and long, sleek locks parted flatly down the middle. (See also: Our runway coverage of Reed Krakoff’s show and the front row)

Reed Krakoff discusses his collection with a journalist before the show.

- Mary O’Regan

Dark lips, strong brows and side-swept, mussed tresses made for a low-key, grungy look at 3.1 Phillip Lim. Models were given dewy complexions with radiant cheekbones courtesy of NARS arists, who did all of the show makeup. We took a peek at some of the backstage prep. (see also our 3.1 Phillip Lim runway coverage)

 - Mary O’Regan

Each model wore an oversized wide-brimmed knit hat in Band of Outsiders‘ fall/winter 2013 show—it was up to Shiseido artistic director Dick Page to accentuate the shadows cast on their faces by the hats. He created raccoon eyes using Shiseido Shimmering Cream Eye Shadow in Sable and finished of each look with Shiseido Perfect Rouge in Showgirl—the sole pop of color.

“While Page’s eccentric shadowing of the eyes made them less of a focus, what remains a staple for fall is a vibrant red lip.” –Debra Redmond, Nordstrom National Beauty Director

Check out the final runway looks in our Band of Outsiders runway report.

- Mary O’Regan

Clean, dewy skin (courtesy of NARS) and dishevled center parts were the look du jour at Helmut Lang‘s Picasso-inspired show yesterday. Take a look at our backstage coverage below, then head to The Thread for a peek at the show itself and the front row.

- Mary O’Regan

Ranked #14 out of the top 50 models in the world, Sui He is one of the most in-demand girls at New York Fashion Week. The Chinese-born stunner is the global face of Shiseido Makeup, handpicked for the job by Dick Page, the brand’s artistic director.

We bumped into Sui backstage at BCBGMAXAZRIA this morning, and asked her to give us the scoop on how she maintains such a natural, flawless complexion.

Beauty 24/7: What’s the one beauty product you can’t leave the house without?
Sui He:  Shiseido’s ‘The Skincare’ Protective Lip Conditioner is great, especially when it’s cold out.

Your skin is so gorgeous. What’s your secret?
I take special care when cleansing my face. Shiseido has this creamy cleanser that I love. It leaves my skin so soft and moisturized.

When your day is done, where do you like to go in NYC?
Chop Shop is one of my favorite places to eat in the city. It’s on West 25th and 10th, you should try it!

—Qianna Smith

With so many great cosmetic and skincare brands on the market, finding what works best for you can be overwhelming. Make your next trip to a Nordstrom beauty counter stress-free, by booking a free appointment with one of our Beauty Stylists. Meet Elyse Reneau, a Beauty Stylist from our South Coast Plaza store, who shares why she loves her job and how this personalized service can help you with your own beauty routine.

Beauty 24/7: What is the best thing about your job?
Elyse Reneau: The cosmetics department can be intimidating to someone who doesn’t know what they want or need. I love making my customers feel at home and giving them the confidence to recreate what I teach them in my chair. I am the biggest makeup and product junky there is! To be able to share that passion with my customers without brand limitation is incredibly liberating. It is so much fun to build a routine for someone that is tailored to their exact needs. Also, working on an appointment base allows me to build amazing relationships. My customers become family.

What can a customer expect when partnering with a Nordstrom Beauty Stylist?
Elyse: All you need to do to get started with a Beauty Stylist is make an appointment. Our service is completely free and you can expect that you are getting someone who will listen to your needs and try to give you exactly what you are looking for. An appointment can take anywhere from a thirty minutes to an hour depending on your needs, questions, and the makeup lesson you want to learn. Beauty Stylists are trained across all makeup and skincare lines so you will never have to worry about being put into one box. Every customer is different and deserves to have skincare and makeup tailored to them specifically. I think it is so cool that Nordstrom recognizes that and is the first department store to create a personal stylist position for beauty.

Describe your all-time-favorite beauty styling moment.
Elyse: There have been quite a few amazing moments, but recently I had an appointment come in who was so upset she was crying. Her skin had been breaking out and she hadn’t been able to find a foundation that covered or matched. I could completely relate having dealt with skin issues in the past myself. I could tell she was really self-conscious so I spent time teaching her about skincare. Followed by an instructional how-to on makeup coverage she could use until her skin healed. She was so appreciative and thankful. I knew when she left she felt so much better about herself than when she came in. I try to give that to every customer who sits in my chair.

Describe your personal approach to beauty.
Elyse: Beauty is all about being comfortable in your own skin. Your makeup should make you look like yourself but prettier. And a killer red lipstick never hurt anybody.

Who is your style inspiration?
Elyse: Audrey Hepburn. She was so beautiful inside and out. She just sparkled; I’d love to sparkle like Audrey.

What are 5 things you can’t live without (beauty related)?
Elyse: It changes weekly, but I will say that I am using five products daily that include:
1. Clarisonic: The first time I used it I felt like I’d never had truly clean skin before.

2. La Mer Soft Crème: Day or night this is my go to moisture. My skin just drinks it in.

3. Smashbox Photo Finish Light Primer: Keeps my makeup on all day without feeling greasy

4. Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation: Makes my skin look flawless and dewy without that heavy makeup look.

5. NARS Velvet Matte Lipstick Pencil in Red Square: This vibrant orange/red matte lipstick makes me feel like I could conquer the world. Never underestimate the power of lipstick.

Come meet your new best friend in beauty. Simply stop by your nearest Nordstrom (appointments are appreciated, but not necessary), call 1.800.7beauty or Live Chat with a Beauty Stylist now.

Go behind the scenes at New York Fashion Week with Natalie and Laksmi from our Beauty Team! They’ll be reporting on all the backstage beauty happening at the runway shows and revealing next season’s beauty trends right now.

We started off today watching James Kaliardos–M•A•C lead makeup artist–work his magic at the Ruffian show. A strong brow leads the look paired with natural, perfected skin. Highlighted cheekbones and nude lips finished everything off. Here are our tips for recreating this look right now.

Start with a thin veil of foundation, like M•A•C Face & Body.

Banish any hint of dark under-eye circles with M•A•C Prep and Prime Highlighter. Bonus: this highlighter has a brush-tip for easy application.

Add dimension and contour to the face using M•A•C Pro Sculpting Cream to give a natural finish.

Cream Color Base (we recommend ‘Luna’ or ‘Pearl’) helps to add luminous highlight when applied on your upper cheekbones.

Strongly defined brows were achieved with a new brow-friendly Fluidline (spoiler alert! This is yet to be released). You can still get this look now with M•A•C Eye Brows brow definer in ‘Lingering’.  Tip: use short, quick strokes, and grab an eyebrow brush to even it all out.

Lastly, finish with a nude lip. We love the new M•A•C ‘Carine Roitfeld’ Lipstick in Tropical Mist.

Here’s how it all looked on the runway.