Friday, September 7, 2012

Two for the Runway! New York Fashion Week Beauty Team: Guido Palau and Diane Kendal

Emily Berl for The New York Times

Guido Palau, a hairstylist, and Diane Kendal, a makeup artist, are longtime friends from England who often work together.

Those looks, and countless before and since, were created by Guido Palau, a hair stylist, and Diane Kendal, a makeup artist: friends for three decades and major forces in the beauty world since the grunge aesthetic of the mid-1990s (bare skin, smudged eyes, bed-head locks).

“They have risen together,” said Sarah Brown, the beauty director of Vogue, adding that some of her favorite recent shoots for the magazine have featured their work, often shot by the photographer David Sims.
Despite their reputations in the fashion industry, the pair went unrecognized on a recent sunny weekday afternoon at Cookshop in Chelsea.
“If there’s a party, we never go,” said Mr. Palau, trim and boyishly dashing at 50 (he once made Out magazine’s 100 most eligible bachelors list).
Over green tea and granola, the two tended to complete each other’s sentences.
“Some people say that if you get to know us, we’re quite similar,” Mr. Palau said.
“Like our intonation and the way we move our hands,” said Ms. Kendal, 52, who has long blond hair and a warm manner. (Mr. Wang described her in an e-mail as “serene, sweet, artistic, strong.”)
She was just back from vacation in Rajasthan, India; Mr. Palau had been in Ibiza, Spain, hanging out with Peter Copping, the Nina Ricci designer, and other friends at a converted farmhouse.
In addition to Mr. Wang’s show, the team is preparing for those of Victoria Beckham and Reed Krakoff. Despite their frequent collaboration, Ms. Kendal and Mr. Palau are represented separately by Art and Commerce, a division of IMG specializing in photography. (Somewhat confusingly, they are also on the roster at the Julian Watson Agency in London, which was founded by Ms. Kendal’s youngest brother. “It was really just to help him get started with the agency,” she said.)
The two friends, both English, met in East London in the early ’80s when it was routine for makeup artists and hair stylists to do repeated test shoots for jobs at edgy magazines like The Face and i-D.
“We were always rolling around our trolleys; it was always raining,” Mr. Palau said.

Mr. Palau working at an Alexander Wang show.
Mr. Palau, one of four boys, is from Bournemouth, a seaside town in Dorset; Ms. Kendal, from Wokingham in Berkshire (besides Mr. Watson, she has another brother and a sister). Ms. Kendal attended the London College of Fashion, where she studied theatrical makeup. They lived a block apart in Notting Hill, pitching themselves as a package. At night, they hit the clubs, whose characters like Boy George still inspire their work.
“There were young men dressed head-to-toe in black dresses in full-on makeup,” Ms. Kendal said. “People really created themselves. They were like art pieces.”
Mr. Palau added: “You had the New Romantics, the New Wave and subdivisions of that. So if you were around it, that immediately became your library of information.”
But it took a while to build their careers. Ms. Kendal’s breakthrough came in 1988, when she landed an Italian Vogue shoot with the photographer Albert Watson.
“I was nowhere near that,” Mr. Palau said. “I thought, ‘God, how do I do that?’ It wasn’t competitive, but I didn’t want to be left behind.”
Ms. Kendal moved to Milan, then Paris. Mr. Palau stayed in London and enrolled in the Vidal Sassoon hair academy. He was kicked out after 18 months.
“I was probably intimidated,” Mr. Palau said. “It was a very strong structure. I suppose I wanted to run more rather than be held back.”
Not long after, he landed the gig of a lifetime: the George Michael “Freedom ’90,” video, which featured Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and other supermodels in their prime.
“I have no idea how I got that,” he said, laughing. “George Michael was a huge star then. The models were huge stars.”

 DURING New York Fashion Week, editors will seek standout microtrends like the long, tousled side braid of Alexander Wang’s spring 2010 collection or the glowing sun-kissed complexion and feathery full brow that went with it.

He began working with Mr. Sims and those in the early grunge movement, including Kate Moss, the photographer Corinne Day and the stylist Melanie Ward. Calvin Klein picked up on the look, giving it a mass audience. 

“Hair was coming undone,” Mr. Palau said. “It was when I really started to develop my own style.”
Before long he and Ms. Kendal had both moved to the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, their apartments overlooking Clement Clarke Moore Park. 

Ms. Kendal has since had a daughter and moved to Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. She cut back on her travel schedule, though she is still responsible for striking beauty moments, like the bright matte coral lip at Jason Wu’s spring 2012 show. 

Mr. Palau has worked with the photographer Steven Meisel, consulted for Redken and created headpieces for the Alexander McQueen “Savage Beauty” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He has occasionally strayed from his partnership with Ms. Kendal, teaming with Pat McGrath instead for shows like Prada and Louis Vuitton in Europe. And Ms. Kendal has partnered with the hairdresser Odile Gilbert. 

For fashion week in Paris, starting later this month, though, the two friends will work backstage together at Sonia Rykiel. But first they have to get through the pressure cooker of Mr. Wang’s show, taking place on Saturday in New York. Were they planning perhaps pallid complexions? Velvety lips? Renaissance ringlets?
“Me and Di, we never talk about work,” Mr. Palau said, before leaving for a pottery class. “We just gossip about nothing and chat about our old age.” 

Stephanie Colgan for The New York Times

Ms. Kendal backstage at a Jason Wu show.

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