New York Fashion Week: Welcome to My World -- Orchestrating the Beauty Behind the Scenes

09/08/2010 04:09 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Katherine Ensslen Director of Makeup Artistry and Fashion Production, M·A·C Cosmetics

Scheduling New York fashion week for M•A•C is one of the most complex puzzles I've ever encountered, let alone been tasked with completing season after season. For the uninitiated, here's the deal: When it comes to catwalk shows, the models may be beautiful, but they don't paint their own faces (well, at least not since the early 90s, anyway).

At M•A•C, we book makeup artists to work directly with the designers to create beauty looks to enhance their collections. My job is managing these behind-the-scenes collaborations; this literally involves thousands of moving pieces that make for a sartorially-driven chess game where factors such as artistic egos, personalities, skills, creative visions, and numerous unknown emotional factors, as well as model counts, etc., that affect each and every strategic move.

The proverbial "board" of New York Fashion Week contains over 90 shows, 300 artists, the requisite makeup tests, actual presentations, and the special requests that accompany each. Easy, right? The problem is, it doesn't just happen once -- it changes daily, so you're constantly trying to track the updates. Never a dull moment in fashion.

Ensuring that the right creative teams are paired with an aesthetically like-minded designer is an art form all its own -- one I take a huge amount of pleasure in finessing. (For example, it's never a good idea to send the tattooed Goth-style assistant to say... Carolina Herrera.) Between four cities, three different languages and cultural differences (everyone knows that the Milanese fashion crowd loves to scream at everyone during fashion week), there are a variety of factors to consider. It's like playing Makeup Artist to the fashion community.

But this struggle is all worth it, because when Fashion Week starts, the hairdressers, models, makeup artists and hell, even the security guards -- we'll all be double air-kissing greetings. It's going to be like a family reunion. Now anyone who has family knows that you love seeing each other, but only for a finite period of time.

The joke about Fashion Week is that it actually lasts a month. So, maybe scratch family reunion and make it "tour of duty"? Anyway, we're almost there, so belt yourself in, kids. It's gonna be a wild ride.