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manish arora ss20 show beauty kabuki drag
Manish Arora SS20 beautyPhotography Jason Mercado

Manish Arora’s SS20 show was an celebration of eclectic drag beauty


TextKristen Bateman

Starring Miss Fame, Hungry, Virgin Xtravaganzah and more, the incredible beauty looks came courtesy of make-up artist Kabuki

Today, inside a tiny, ornate passageway in Paris, Indian designer Manish Arora staged a show full of diverse models from the Instagram beauty world, drag culture, and more. The collection was about a celebration of family bonds that go beyond the biological ones we’re given, and as the make-up proved: theatrics. In the style of a traditional cabaret, models posed and vogued to a special rendition of Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family”.

“It's all different,” explains make-up artist Kabuki, who was working with MAC Cosmetics glitter. “Some are wearing things I used before that I’ve repurposed and some things are new, like the masks.” Many of the models had intricate paintings on their faces, while others were wearing cut-outs of leather and non-traditional materials. One was wearing oversized black contacts while another had fan-like golden metallic paper lashes glued below the eyes. 

The personalities who vogued or MCed through the show, such as Miss Fame and Virgin Xtravaganzah, chose to do their make up themselves. “It’s more fun more like real life that way,” explained Kabuki. “It’s the merge of Manish’s world with their world.”

“The inspiration is my character Virgin Xtravaganzah,” explains Xtravaganzah. “Manish liked the character and saw my performance in India and he invited me to be part of the show.” Her look took a total of three hours to create. As for the key products used, Kabuki focused on MAC Cosmetics glitters with the vibrant colours of the Pro Palette Paintstick.

Even the nails were over the top in this collection, created by Marian Newman using CND. “All these other little embellishments and motifs are all based on symbols seen in the collection,” she explains of the different heart-shaped 3D features. “We have three different motifs for each model and it’s basically just an interpretation of Manish’s collection. We made them all ahead of time as far as possible.”

“It was almost like finding logic in what the needs were,” adds Kabuki. “There are dancers who are moving a lot, so I couldn't do a dimensional piece on them. Manish is all about more is more. I made it like a dessert cart where we picked and chose what we wanted.” For one black mask covered in pearls, he used a Halloween mask he saved for two years. 

Along with an all-star cast of performers such as Ryan Burke, Dyna Dagger, Romain Brau, Norvae Lita, Adah Keller-Roulston, Dragoness Lola von Flame, Julie Demont, Luc Bruyere, Maison Klaus, Jean Biche and Lèa Vlamos, the Berlin-based drag queen Hungry, who has become sort of famous on Instagram for her wild make up (with nearly half a million followers) was modeling in her signature distinct feline make-up. “I did my own thing but I used elements of the dress, which is leather cut pieces assembled with my usual makeup. It’s something that represented me and resembles the dress.”

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