If I were ever to join a cult, it would undoubtedly need to involve glitter, which makeup artist Pat McGrath provided plenty of backstage at Anna Sui. Inspired by The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll—an exhibition on display this summer at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco—there were colorful daisies painted across models’ complexions, paisley patterns scaling supers’ legs, and sparkly, starburst-like streaks slashed across lids with a skinny brush slicked with Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream and a silvery blend of glitter, pigment, and shadows from McGrath’s forthcoming Mothership palettes. In short, a much prettier aesthetic than the Manson Family ascribed to. “It’s that whole ’60s vibe,” the pro explained, citing the first Be-In (a rally that preluded the Summer of Love in San Francisco in 1967, in which massive amounts of LSD were freely distributed to attendees) and love-ins (a peaceful gathering that involves music, meditation, drugs, and, of course, plenty of sex). “It’s very much like now!” McGrath joked, referring to the rather tumultuous Trumpian era. (With all that’s going on in the world, LSD doesn’t seem like a bad idea, but I’ll settle for copious amounts of sparkle.)
Over in hair, Garren flipped through photos of hippie cults where bellybutton-grazing lengths ran rampant regardless of gender. “They got married out in the fields and lived together,” explained the pro. “The girls were pure and braided their own hair.” To replicate the effect in a high-stress backstage environment that’s pretty much the polar-opposite of peace and love, he misted damp strands with R+Co Sail Soft Wave Spray, crafted two basic braids, and diffused them for a “soft, rumpled” look. For catwalkers with coarse or curly hair, he spritzed strands with Freeway Spray Defining Gel and raked the new formula through lengths with a wide-tooth comb to create movement. As a finishing touch, the mane master asked models to flip their hair over so he could add a puff or two of Skyline Dry Shampoo Powder to the underside. “It’s almost as if they’ve been rolling in the fields,” said Garren of the “scruffy” waves.
While 9/11 memorials took place just a few blocks from the show, Sui (with the help of Garren and McGrath) transported attendees to a simpler time when days were spent making daisy chains instead of Instagram stories, and tripping on psychedelic drugs wasn’t captured for all eternity on an iPhone. The designer also celebrated men and women of varying ages, races, and sexes on her runway. Models like Kirsten Owen and Maggie Rizer (who made her grand return to Sui’s runway after 15 years) walked alongside today’s supers, which included Gigi and Bella Hadid. For at least ten minutes within Skylight Clarkson Square, all was right with the world…until Gigi lost her glitter-encrusted platform on the catwalk like a high-fashion Cinderella. It was the perfect ending to Sui’s utopian story and brought things firmly back to earth, teaching all the eyes trained on Hadid around the world that we need to band together and keep strutting through life—even if things are a little (make that a lot) off-kilter.