STLFW Behind The Scenes: Backstage Beauty With Director Of Hair And Makeup Josh Nichols

By Sarah Stallmann
In Style
Photo by Matt Kile

Photo by Matt Kile

One of the most important aspects of any runway show is a topic that KINK (Clayton) and Notch (The Grove) Salon owner Josh Nichols knows quite well. As the Director of Hair and Makeup for Saint Louis Fashion Week, Nichols and his team of vibrant-haired stylists are runway pros, assisting in the hair and makeup coordination of the ever-growing STLFW event series for the past several seasons. We caught up with the beauty expert mid-styling to ask him a few questions about the competitive industry of backstage beauty.

ALIVE: What are the biggest differences between styling hair for a fast-paced event like a fashion show and styling at a salon?

Josh Nichols: Working in the salon is all about compromise and doing what the client wants because they’re paying you for a service, therefore you have to meet their expectations. Runway allows a stylist to be more creative and create hairstyles that a person wouldn’t normally wear. A lot of the hairstyles you see on the runway are extreme versions of what you would see on the street.

ALIVE: What’s it like to work with designers in a hair and makeup situation?

JN: I think it depends on the designer because each designer is different. When you’re working with artists, there are always a lot of creative juices flowing. Communication is key with whoever we’re working with, but the focus is always to make sure the garment shines.

ALIVE: What has been your favorite creative hair and makeup project you’ve done?

JN: We got to work with Harbison [this year] as well as last year. We’ve developed a fondness for them. They have a great look and we really vibe well together. We’ve also worked with Michael Drummond, which is always interesting because we never know what we’re doing until the last second, but he trusts my artistic version and I trust his.

ALIVE: What are some key things that a makeup artist would need to keep in mind when doing makeup for a runway show?

JN: A bold lip or a bold eye, but not bold both. You can get as dramatic as you want with the eye or the lip, but being dramatic with both is distracting from the garments.

ALIVE: Do you use the same products in a fashion show that you use in a salon?

JN: All of the products that we use for a runway show are definitely the same products that we use in the salon. However, because we want to achieve different looks, the amount of product we use in a fashion show is less than the amount we use in the salon. In a fashion show, you want the hair to have movement and texture, whereas in a salon we want the hairstyle to last all day, so we use more product. Key products that we are using to achieve the looks for the runway shows this week are Bumble & Bumble Pret-A-Powder and B & B Semisumo pomade. Both give the hair a really great look and texture.

ALIVE: What steps would recommend to an aspiring hairstylist or makeup artist that wants to work in fashion show?

JN: I think the best thing to do is get into a salon that does runway hair. You want to work with a group that is known for doing great runway hair. Do your research and make sure you know who you’re working for and that they share the same creative vision as you.

For more backstage access, see our roundup from behind the runway for the Emerging Designer Competition presented by Brown Shoe Company and Yigal + Tess + Timo + Saint Rita Parlor.

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