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Kenzo Turns People Into Live Sculptures With Gallons of Body Paint

Kenzo sure knows how to put on a show. In seasons past, designers Carol Lim and Humberto Leon have shown their collections at skate parks on the outskirts of Paris, in an indoor rainstorm, and outside on a runway overlooking the Seine. And they didn’t disappoint for spring 2017. The duo chose the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, Paris’s architecture museum that houses casts of French architecture and monumental sculptures both new and old. Hanging from the walls are stone gargoyles, tops of columns, and even full tympanums, the friezes that sit atop the entryways of cathedrals. Being in the museum is a humbling experience, walking around, surrounded by massive pieces of stonework dating back hundreds and hundreds of years. But Lim and Leon wanted to add a more human element to the set, which resulted in the addition of real-life statues posing among—and sometimes even incorporated into—the works of art and architecture.

So while makeup artist Lynsey Alexander was hard at work buffing on red blush and swiping on red lipstick, tucked away in a private corner of the museum, makeup artist Debbie Finnegan was leading a team of body painters tasked with transforming 24 models into living, breathing stone statues. “We’re calling it the great M.A.C. bake-off,” laughed Finnegan. “It’s hilarious, because if you watched us mixing up the paint, it really looks like we’re baking.” To give the skin a stone-like effect, the process ended up being a lot more complicated than simply slapping on some makeup and calling it a day. Finnegan and her team had to figure out a way to get the right opacity and texture to mimic real stone. They broke out a bunch of different ingredients and a food processor to do that.

“We’re using M.A.C. Chromacakes, so we take certain quantities of each color—it changes depending on the final shade we want—put it in a blender with some hot water, and as it blends it together, it creates this beautiful creamy mixture. Then, since we want to create a plaster-like effect on the skin, we’re using loads of pots of M.A.C. Invisible Powder and beating it into the mixture, which creates this spongy, whipped formula.” Finnegan also admitted to pouring in some

into the mix as well, a trick that not only helps dilute the body paint down to the right consistency and opacity, but also keeps the skin from getting too uncomfortable thanks to the conditioning ingredients in the hydrating spray.

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Once the body paints were all mixed up and ready to go—which Finnegan brought to the show in dozens of Tupperware containers—it all came down to application and brush technique. “We got a whole lot of paint brushes from the art store because they’re bigger in size and we can cover large areas quickly,” said Finnegan. “Then we went back in with the makeup brushes to really buff the pigments in and achieve the right texture.” While the best body paint tip we can give you is to call one of your closest friends to come over and help with this part (if you’re considering painting yourself for your upcoming Halloween fêtes), and keep Finnegan’s earlier pointers in mind. It might mean the difference between having the best costume of the night or having a major fail.

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