There’s nothing more glamorous than the stage – the bright lights, the glitzy costumes, the rapt crowd. But when the spotlight is off and the audience have gone home, what’s left is its own kind of glamour – albeit one that’s a little grittier, trashier, with sweaty make-up and smudged glitter.
It was this feeling that Grace Ellington and Scarlett Carlos Clarke wanted to evoke in their new shoot. “I saw the movie Cabaret at the BFI in the summer and just couldn’t stop thinking about the beauty looks in it,” says Ellington. “The heavy make-up was just stuck in my mind for months.” The iconic rhinestone make-up of Showgirls, which Carlos Clarke had just rewatched, served as another inspiration. “We wanted it to have a kind of old Vegas glamour but [also a] grimey aftershow feeling,” she says.
“I wanted the make-up to be beautiful and make the models look beautiful but in a sort of slightly dirty cinematic way, like you might not want to touch it,” adds Ellington. “I was thinking about how to reference the really heated skin from Cabaret but in a way that would feel a bit surreal, so I used a really fine glitter everywhere – especially in places like the t-zone and chin, so it felt a bit sweaty.”
For the background, the pair created a detailed world that would externally reflect the mood of the make-up, something that would be both glamorous and a bit trashy. “We talked about a few things like the inside of a plane for even an RV,” says Ellington. Ultimately they decided on a limo with a black leather interior. “That seemed kind of perfectly seedy and sweaty for this,” says Carlos Clarke.