Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week comes to an end today. And as the tents at Lincoln Center pack up so will the beauty artists responsible for the faces and hair of some of the industries biggest super-models and celebs.
But what most of this week’s bloggers, fashionistas, editors, and photographers don’t know is that behind the striking 1940s-styled hair of designer Jenny Packham’s show, the post-modern updo’s of the Green Shows and Catherine Malandrino’s slick-looking pompadours, were Latino artists like César Ramírez, Karlo Karlo, and Renato Almeida working their beauty magic.
I make all my clients feel sexy. Because my culture is diverse, I’m able to adapt to different styles.
"If I can do my sister’s and their friend’s hair in humid Puerto Rico, where everyone has a different texture of curl, and make them look fierce, I knew I could take over New York," said soft-spoken hair-whisperer, César Ramírez.
Also the creative director of Dop Dop salon in New York, Ramírez is one of LaLa Anthony’s personal stylist on-call for the basketball wife and E channel host.
"I make all my clients feel sexy. Because my culture is diverse, I’m able to adapt to different styles," he said. "I do believe hair should be natural not chemically processed. And I’m a huge believer in keeping a lot of moisture in the hair."
Renato Almeida is from Sao Paulo Brazil, but based in New York. As an Shiseido educator, Almeida created the blood wine lip color for designer line Candela. He has worked on the faces of Naomi Campbell, Carolina Herrera, and Phillip Lim to name a few.
With an almost Buddhist calm, Almeida says he loves color.
"A bright lip or cheek brightens your day and your spirit. People will perceive you differently," Almeida said. "Makeup has that power."
Almeida started in the industry in advertising, but says he always loved products. “The world is waking up to us Latinos. We have our first woman president in Brazil. She’s a celebrity.”
Away from Lincoln Center, down in the basement of the Alison Eighteen restaurant in Chelsea, designer Gregory Parkinson presented his luxury, color-rich, lace-laden, quilted, 1920s styled haughty looks to a select group of industry insiders. Veteran artist Geoffrey Rodríguez—Anna Wintour’s exclusive makeup artist when she lands in LA, created the makeup. Rodríguez is also on the speed dial of Hollywood starlets like Emma Watson and Lisa Edelstein.
"I’m from a large Mexican family and the women in my family were always dolled up. They didn’t leave the house without full makeup and hair," Rodríguez. "And I saw that. These beautiful Latin women were always finished, polished, sexy, and confident. Do you know that Latin women wear more red lipstick than any other race? And they spend more money on cosmetics."
Rodríguez has transformed such beauties as athlete Gabrielle Reese, model and host of Top Chef Padma Lakshmi, and actress Elizabeth Banks.
Danny Rodríguez, now manager with the Top 5 Management, who handles clients César Ramírez and Colombian makeup artist Jackie Gomez (she's one of Beyonce’s personal makeup people), says they started the agency to fill a growing need.
"We formed the agency almost two years ago because we were all friends. We’d be backstage talking in Spanish and we connected,” Rodríguez said. “We all started needing help due to a fast growth in the business. A demand for our services. Big brands were asking for bilingual artists and help entering this new market."
Sisters and public relations team Maria and Suset Laboy say they too launched two years ago due to an increasing need.
"It’s kinda’ like a joke between us. We weren’t doing this. Maria was an architect and I have a PhD in creative writing," Suset Laboy said. "Karlo Karlo was the first artist who came to us to ask us for representation. Then others like Javier Romero (who’s done Nicki Minaj's makeup). Then of course the natural connection came first with Latino designers and then others."
Puerto Rican makeup artist Karlo Karlo has been in New York for 20 years, 19 of which he’s been one of Rita Moreno’s personal makeup artists.
"Europe has embraced us already," said Karlo Karlo. "That happened a long time ago. But now that an actress like Sofia Vergara and a super model like Joan Smalls are in mainstream media, we’re here and we have accents, and, as Women’s Wear Daily says, we’re Muy Caliente."
Rebekah Sager is a freelance writer based in San Diego, Calif.