There's a glamour-puss inside of me and, every holiday season, she tries to get out: Despite the low-key, quick-fix philosophy that dictates my daily aesthetic, I want big hair and dramatic makeup when it comes time to hit the Christmas-party circuit.
I blame this on a childhood spent watching prime-time soaps such as Dynasty and Dallas , which reflected the excesses of the Reagan era. I will never forget watching Joan Collins, face and hair fully done, lounging in a bubble bath while drinking champagne and spooning caviar out of a crystal bowl. Part of me still yearns for that kind of indulgence.
As popular as such shows were in their heyday, most fell out of favour when the economy took a serious nosedive in the early 1990s. As Jaime Weinman pointed out in a June Maclean's article about the new wave of TV potboilers that have hit the airwaves more recently, nighttime soaps lost their audiences because viewers grew tired of "rich-people problems and storylines." Considering how often the hashtag #firstworldproblems trends on Twitter today, however, such an aversion no longer nags at the collective consciousness. Another sign that we're open to eighties-redux glam: Dallas is back on TV in a new, 21st-century version.
"With television saturated by reality TV shows, cop [programs] and medical dramas, we've been missing that serialized drama, which we're finally getting with shows like Dallas and Revenge ," says Christine Fix, editor-in-chief of Soaps.com. Added bonus: We're also getting all the glossy lips, Technicolor makeup and slick updos that come with them, both onscreen and off.
Jim Crawford, a celebrity hair and makeup artist who has worked with Brenda Strong of the new Dallas, says his clients still reference the beauty looks of the 1980s as a gauge for how glam they want to go. "The only difference now is that you don't wear all the trends at once. You pick a defined brow, a colourful eyelid or lots of mascara," he says. "This is what makes it modern."
As the holidays approach, I hope to be invited to more than a few parties so I'll be able to conjure up several of my favourite soap looks. First off, there's the angelic Krystle Carrington, whose soft television glow could only have been realized through a Vaseline-smeared lens. Today, Krystle's radiant, monochromatic mien isn't so impossible, Toronto makeup artist Anna Nenoiu says, if you have a good face-contouring palette, such as Make Up For Ever's Sculpting Kit, in your beauty arsenal. After putting on foundation, you apply the lighter shade to the apple of the cheek using a contour brush, sweeping the colour at a 45-degree angle toward the ear before finishing with the darker shade in the hollow of the cheek. "Blending is key," Nenoiu says, invoking a rule that Krystle knew all too well when she married into the Carringtons.
Hair-wise, Krystle's winged bangs would be a tough sell these days, although Gucci's fall catwalk dos possessed all the ladylike charm befitting her character. "It's a blowout with a bit of wave to it," Charles Baker Strahan, celebrity stylist for Herbal Essences, says of the modern incarnation.
After a few cups of spiked eggnog, I might also want to channel the booze-addled Dallas heroine Sue Ellen Ewing, who, despite her alcoholism, was always meticulously (and miraculously) groomed. "Everything is bigger in Texas," Baker Strahan says, citing volumizing hairspray as a must-have product for achieving Sue Ellen-style hair. Teased and backcombed, her look works equally well pulled into a low ponytail or chignon. In terms of makeup, Roberto Cavalli's fall runway show nicely evoked Sue Ellen's extravagant maquillage, featuring eyes painted in shades of purple, green and gold, although Nenoiu advises layering similar shades of one colour to create a smoky eye with texture (she points to Giorgio Armani Beauty's Eyes To Kill Eyeshadow Quad as the ne plus ultra of products for eyes that will, well, kill).
For the biggest party of the season, I might, finally, want to pull out all the stops and embrace the exceedingly sophisticated, devilishly conniving Alexis Carrington Colby. "Nothing says villainess more than strong eyebrows and a bold lip," Crawford says. For room-commanding brows, he adds, you should define brows by layering on a pencil or shadow (like Diorshow's Brow Styler Ultra– Fine Precision Brow Pencil) using a featherlight touch. Prep lips, moreover, by buffing with an exfoliating treatment, then following up with a clear balm to moisturize and help set the lipstick. Finally, layer on a traffic-stopping red, such as Yves Saint Laurent Beauty's Rouge Pur Couture The Mats in Rouge Rock, until the desired level of deviousness is achieved.
"When I think of Alexis, I think of a refined woman who exhibits some freeness, like she's always living on the edge," says Baker Strahan. The hairstyles at the Giorgio Armani spring show struck that perfect balance of elegance and spiritedness. The look requires second-day hair (with all the scheming she was doing, it's doubtful that Alexis would have had the time to wash her hair daily), a volumizing product to create airiness (like Serge Normant's Meta Lush Volumizer) and a deep side part with the combed-over section tucked and pinned behind the ear.
Cue the Dynasty theme song and rev up that Rolls-Royce.