French hairstylist Julien D’Ys and makeup artist Tom Pecheux are two of the fashion world’s most sought-after creators. Their work with Yves Saint Laurent creative director Stefano Pilati for YSL’s fall/winter 2008 women’s show was an especially distinctive collaboration, notable for its bangs-heavy hair and black makeup. Of that look, Pilati said, “[It] is strict and severe without being aggressive. And of course it is purposeful. Intended to obscure, mask . . . provoke curiosity.” Pilati added that the look “gave the collection a kind of neo-modernity.”
ANNABEL TOLLMAN: What were you two thinking when you came up with the hair and makeup concept for the YSL fall 2008 show?
JULIEN D’Ys: We talked to Stefano one month before the show about the ideas he had. I was taking some inspiration from Vidal Sassoon in the ’70s and other things. I looked everywhere in New York to find the right wigs. I was looking for some hair that was very shiny, like vinyl. At the end of the process I was in New York, and I was walking with Irving Penn. I found two wigs and tried them on a model. Right away it was perfect, like putting gloss on the head. In the wig the bangs covered the eyes.
TOM PECHEUX: I arrived the day of the fitting. Stefano and Julien had been talking about the show and that they had this great idea about the wigs. My first idea about the makeup was not at all the black lips we ended up with. I’m French and I have the background of Saint Laurent and Mr. [Helmut] Newton shooting the campaigns for Saint Laurent. So for me it was either pale lips or red-matte lips. But Julien put the wigs on and I was like, “Oh, no, the red lips are going to be too Saint Laurent from before. And the pale lips are going to look almost like death.”
JD: The idea was like wearing black ink, like a painting or a drawing. With the white skin-it was amazing.
AT: It was so graphic.
JD: At first, some girls were complaining, because you couldn’t see the eyes.
TP: It was definitely not a pretty look; it was a powerful look. The girls got very excited backstage while doing hair and makeup. They felt unique. But at the same time, they looked like robots.
AT: Like from a Fritz Lang movie or something.
TP: Completely. This is only the second season I’m working with Stefano, but what’s amazing is how he’s willing to push things. A lot of designers think only about their clothes. A lot of designers, in the end, pull back and say, “No, no, I’m scared, I’m not going to do it.” But Stefano says, “Okay, guys, let’s go for it.”
JD: It was scary a few times.
AT: If you had to use one word or phrase to summarize the total look, what would it be?
TP: Genius. [laughs]