Hemlines: The Make-Up Mathematician – Sarah Lanagan

Posted February 17, 2020 in Fashion

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Whether channeling fresh-faced radiance for a Perry Ogden shoot or playing with kaleidoscopic palettes for the starring shot of ‘Renailssance’ (a history-making showcase staged at the NGI last summer), Sarah Lanagan’s cosmetic artistry stems from a straight-forward motto: “Once you have a beautiful base, the rest can fall into place”.

Skim through her copious portfolio and you’ll emerge awestruck; both by the spine-tingling beauty which typifies her work (unsurprisingly, I’m most partial to her explosively vibrant editorials) and the top-notch credits she has modestly amassed.

Over the course of eight seasons, Lanagan has lent her resplendent brush to Ready-to-wear looks for Gucci, Jacquemus and McQueen, in tandem with assisting roles at haute-couture showcases. One pre-show stint, for which she toiled in a closed-off Louvre at the crack of dawn, proved especially memorable.

“As we were working on our models for the show, the sun started to rise and it was so beautiful and quiet. I remember thinking – how lucky am I? To be working at Fashion Week and also have a front row seat to this incredible place?”

Totally Dublin’s long-time publishing of Lanagan’s shoots (a fantastical collaboration with Kieran Kilgallon and Liam Murphy scored last month’s editorial spread) puts the magazine in pretty decent company: Vogue Japan, Dazed and Schön! are among the many inventive titles to have also lapped up her work and, some 16 years into Lanagan’s career, her productivity and artistic appetite show no signs of stalling.

As her side project @lan_art_work – a colour-popping series of acrylics-on-canvas – lucidly testifies, Lanagan propels make-up to its deserved perch: a bone-fide art form.

Indeed, while she prefers devising work direction on the spot, rather than ruminate too much ahead of time, influences from Picasso, Paul Klee and Basquiat prove resonant across some of her most vibrant, emotive projects. Even the most creatively challenging of briefs doesn’t seem to deter her: when commissioned by Magnum to transform their key ingredients – ice cream, syrup and chocolate – into convincing make-up looks, Lanagan leapt at the chance to experiment, concocting “a marbled lip, made by freezing small segments of white, dark and milk chocolate and then marbling them while they melted on the model’s lips” and a separate glossy lip, fashioned “using raspberry syrup scraped from inside the ice-cream.”

With her 2020 schedule already bursting at the seams, Lanagan admits a “lofty” ambition to hold her own exhibition in the future, within which the boundaries of art and make-up would be colourfully blurred.

Should Lanagan stage that project by the close of this decade, I would happily bet that spectators will descend by the busload.


Words: Amelia O’Mahony-Brady


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