How the make-up and hair at Harris Reed's AW24 show brought Victoriana paper dolls to life

harris reed aw24
Harris Reed fantastical AW24 beauty look Jason Lloyd Evans/Dyson

Sculptured lampshade silhouettes, blooming prints made from archival silk Fromental wallpaper and vertiginous knee-highs: Harris Reed’s AW24 show in the halls of the Tate Britain last night was a spectacular way to open this season’s London Fashion Week.

Reed’s designs never fail to bring the drama, and this approach extends to the make-up and hair looks in all his shows.

“Beauty has always been the most integral counterpart to the clothes in any show of mine. What I love about make-up is that it can transform an individual into a full-blown character,” Reed tells us, nodding to the magic beauty brought to iconic fashion moments on the runways of John Galliano, Alexander McQueen and early Ricardo Tisci.

harris reed beauty
Harris ReedCourtesy of Charlotte Tilbury - Hearst Owned

For him, make-up goes hand in hand with his designs and is, at times, the starting point of his creative process. “I always think of who the individual is, and who the character is that I want to evoke in this season,” he says.

Where does he like to look for references? “I also love taking inspiration from old royals, whether the fabulousity of Marie Antoinette or looking at a young Swedish prince – I love that there’s so much colour in those portraits,” he explains. “But then I’m also addicted to Euphoria and watching how Gen Z, Gen X and Gen Alpha play with make-up.”

harris reed beauty
The vintage style look at Harris ReedJason Lloyd Evans

For this season, Reed found himself wandering through iconic museums such as the V&A in search for inspiration – the result is a nod to Victoriana and paper dolls. The looks feature a cacophony of colours and textures with plenty of shimmers, glosses, metallics and touches of rosebud (a staple in Renaissance paintings), to capture the mood of a Victorian woman after a rapturous night out at the ball. Showstopper nails came courtesy of manicurist Simone Cummings using CND.

harris reed beauty
The hair and make-up at Harris Reed AW24 evoked a Victorian sensibilityCourtesy of Charlotte Tilbury - Hearst Owned

“Harris truly loves make-up,” lead make-up artist for Charlotte Tilbury, Sofia Tilbury tells us. “He’s very involved with every part of the process, advising on different energies and aesthetics connected to each look and even suggesting references from 19th century painters so that we could help find the right colours, textures and techniques to bring those characters to life.” The feeling is mutual: “Sofia finds this beautiful balance between theatricality and glamour, and achievable beauty; everything she does, you can recreate at home,” says Reed. “It’s important to me that the viewer to also have that moment for themselves.”

Informed by the “fairy tale world of maximalist silhouettes and wallpaper fabrics”, Tilbury describes the beauty look as the “youthful innocence of paper dolls, captured in the wide, silver and gold eyes, doll-like lips and rosy, blushed cheeks”. She prepped the skin with Charlotte’s Magic Serum, Magic Water Cream and Beautiful Skin Radiant Concealer where needed, then placed blush upwards and outwards over the cheeks and temples.

“The colour needed to be bold and vibrant, so we used the drama of Charlotte’s K.I.S.S.I.N.G lipstick in Night Crimson, diffused delicately around the edges to create that dreamy balance.

harris reed beauty
The AW24 look at Harris Reed was informed by the “fairy tale world of maximalist silhouettes and wallpaper fabrics”Courtesy of Charlotte Tilbury - Hearst Owned

Each model was assigned a gold or silver colour palette for the eyes using Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Palettes in Queen of Glow, The Rock Chick and Uptown Girl. No prescriptive technique here: it’s all about the romance of clouds of fairy dust across the eyelids, drawn down onto the cheek underneath the eyes.

As a finishing touch, Tilbury added a “bloom of deep plum” on the centre of the lips using Night Crimson followed by Refresh Rose Lip Gloss, also focused in the middle. “It’s all about cherubic beauty,” says Tilbury.

Meanwhile, hairstylist Ali Pirzadeh kept hair feeling slick with “a masculine element”, achieved via hard side partings, gentle quiffs along the crown, and low ponytails with curved ends to soften the effect. “Everything is extremely polished with a high gloss finish,” Pirzadeh tells us. “I love playing with texture differences and when you see somebody walk under the show lights, that little pop of shine just gives something extra.”

harris reed beauty
Harris Reed AW24Jason Lloyd Evans

This show also marks the London debut of Dyson’s latest hairdryer, Supersonic r, which is currently available only for professional use. Developed using the insights of more than 600 hairdressers, Supersonic r’s ergonomic design is remarkably light and heat changes are speedier to make styling easier on the arm muscles. There are also ten varying attachments, meaning one device is able to take on every single hair and curl type.

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