As RAFW (Australian fashion week) again draws near and fashionisers click their heels in anticipation of one of the most celebrated (and busiest!) events on the Australian fashion calendar, those uber-talented creative types are busily working behind the scenes to finalise the looks which we will covet in the months to come. We were fortunate enough to chat with one of these creative minds who also happens to be one of Australia’s most talented makeup artists – Nicole Thompson, senior artist for MAC Australia, official makeup brand for RAFW.

One look at Nicole’s resume and you know the vision of RAFW is in more than competent hands. As a part of the International MAC Pro Team, Nicole spends part of the year travelling beyond our borders to rather glam assignments- international fashion weeks, opulent events and luxe photoshoots. Career envy starts now. Beyond the drapery, imagery and silks on display, Nicole and her 50 strong team will execute the artistry at RAFW to complement the vision of the designers.

Unsurprisingly, inspiration for the Australian catwalks begin with our European counterparts and spring 2011 trends such as the sumptuous metallics are expected to translate here, with a home grown twist. Read Nicole’s exclusive preview of RAFW makeup and begin your inspiration now…

backstage at rafw 2010

Q. Fashionising.com is read by a lot of the industry’s emerging and established make up artists. For those who are on the up, can you give us a feel for what your role as a M.A.C Senior Artist entails?

A. As Senior Artist for MAC Australia I am part of the International MAC Pro Team that represent this great brand! I spread myself across many departments.. Doing make-up for photoshoots, events and fashion weeks (local & International). I do many written and live interviews talking about all the new innovations and milestones in make-up at MAC! I am also part of the training team that trains our talented artists in store.

For RAFW, I am heading up a 50 artist strong team to execute the make-up for the shows!

How long does the planning / preparation take?

We are planning for the next Fashion Week, as soon as it is over! We are always looking for new ways to improve ourselves and the way we do things.

The 2 months before Fashion Week is when it hots up. All the shows get confirmed and the trials to decide the looks begin and that’s the best part!

And on the day, do you find yourself largely directing the action or getting in amongst it?

Getting amongst it! I couldn’t stand by and watch people do the best bit and what we all love – the Make-up! I direct the team on how to achieve the particular look and then we all get in there and do it together!

How do you go about designing a make-up look that works perfectly with both the clothes and the selected hairstyle?

By looking at the “whole story” not just one element. Even in make-up, if you only get one element right – it doesn’t look polished. For a show that makes an amazing statement, it all has to come together to tell a story – the clothes, the styling, the hair and the make-up!

We always do a group trial with everyone there to make sure everyone is on the same page and is harmonious.

How best can our readers make that same decision everyday?

By looking at your whole story. We are all saying something with what we look like- and its up to us to decide what that something is!

Make sure you own a full length mirror, so you can check out your outfit from head to toe before you walk out the door.

It may sound dorky – but plan your outfit! It takes the pressure and the panic out of it in the morning if you have everything ready to go the night before.

Whenever we go backstage there are nearly always inspiration boards hanging up for the make-up and hair artists to work from. How heavily are these used? What’s dominating your own inspiration boards for this season at RAFW or otherwise?

Inspiration boards are a powerful way to illustrate the look and feel of the show. Creative people are visual people – and this helps us all be working to achieve the same finished product.

My inspiration boards are dominated with different skin textures, polished skin looks and various ways of sculpting and shading the face in unexpected ways.

I am also obsessed with custom mixing colours for the lips and face with all different products – so I am colour swatching like crazy!

What MAC product will you not be able to survive the day without come RAFW?

Fix Plus Spray ($28). Fashion week or no Fashion Week this is my most used products. Everyone wants healthy looking skin – and this is the secret ingredient! Packed full of vitamins and minerals, this hydrating spritz is the perfect way to put some life and moisture back into the tired skin during the week!

Focussing on make-up trends for the season:

You’re working across a number of shows at RAFW this year, and each is unique. Despite that, are there any make-up styles, colours or elements are so ‘on trend’ that they work across the board and will feature in multiple shows?

Healthy, glowing skin with a slight shine is a must, and you will see it at many shows this season! Strobe Cream ($55) will be very popular with our teams!

There is a mix of caramels, copper and gold tones around at the moment and I predict hints of these across the catwalks – they are such flattering shades for all skin tones…

What do you see as the key make-up colour palettes for spring / summer 2011?

Golds, caramels and coffee tones with a metallic modern twist. Glamorous with an easy feel..

What tips would you suggest for our readers who want to work those colour palettes into their own look once the season comes along?

Get a multipurpose product in a caramel shade that you can work around the face! Try HoneyFlower Lipstick ($36) as a sheer wash of caramel on the lips and then press into the cheeks for a monocromatic chic look that is super quick.

How much, if at all, do the make-up trends that become big in Australia different from those that dominate the catwalks of Europe?

Europe is where all the trends start. That’s where we take our inspiration for the following season..clothes, hair and make-up, In Australia – we twist it up and make it our own, never taking it too serious!

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