Welcome to the first episode of Britain’s Next Top Cat Burglar.
Have you ever wondered how irrationally angered you can be by 1 singular sequin? Get ready to find out.
Strike a Pose, There’s Nothing To It
If you thought being part of a national campaign for Superdrug was a big prize last week, this week would like you to hold its drink because for their first challenge they will be designing a look for the TV series Pose, with the winning look going on to be featured in the show’s third (and sadly final) season – it is such a good a prize and in the second episode! Where do you go from here?
The MUAs will be divided into two categories: Bizarre and Black and White Photo Realness. Craig, Elliott, Dolli, Samah and Ryley find themselves dealing with the seemingly endless possibilities of the the Bizarre brief while Sophie, Xavi, Alex and Jack have to find a way to desaturate their models. I will say that this challenge seemed a little stacked in favour of the Bizarre Team purely because you can do more and obviously the judges are going to gravitate more towards something that’s creative as opposed to a very technical and accurate black and white makeup that had much less wiggle room for creativity as Jack found out when they went a little off script and had a much more avant-garde approach to the black and white glamour of the 1940s
It does fall slightly short of the brief in that they wanted it to be completely greyscale but it’s still a very cool makeup and reminds me a lot of the 18th century Italian pantomime character Pierrot with the slightly cocked eyebrows and deep set eyes, which in many ways made it more bizarre than some of the people on the bizarre team as both Samah and Ryley really struggled to get to grips with their brief and for quite a while just had your kind of ordinary, perhaps not entirely wearable makeup looks going on
Non-Skyped in guest judge, Les Childs, does swoop in to try and get them to remedy the situation by falling just short of threatening their lives and in true Ichiban: Lipstick For Men! style both of them resolve this by adding blue to the lips. Samah went for an over exaggerated mouth and a few feathers glued to her model’s head serving up some real Bedraggled Peacock Realness
It is certainly bizarre but you do also have to remember that Pose has an aesthetic so there does have to be a level of glamour and beauty to the look, which this just doesn’t have. I think a lot of it could be saved with the feather crown being better implemented and the removal of the feather lash which is adding a droopiness to the look which just makes me feel very sad. However, the way the glitter on her model’s cheek caught the light when she dipped was so gorgeous
It’s the highlight dreams are made of.
Ryley’s blue lips were a more geometric offering that better matched the rest of her look and gave it a slightly Egyptian feel in the sort of Elizabeth Taylor as Problematic Cleopatra kind of way
I love what she did with his brows but as a whole it’s slightly underwhelming considering that she had such a cool outfit to try and work with
Dom has issues with her colour matching again, and it is slightly too warm but it’s much less noticeable than it was last week so at least it’s an upwards trajectory!
It was interesting that Elliott seemed to struggle to get into the groove of the bizarre brief, although maybe not entirely surprising given that this was the outfit he was working with
Where is the bizarre? The others have a jester costume, a matador, a jazzy devil and a twisted flapper dress to work with, you can’t give someone Edna Turnblad’s dress from a local community theatre production of Hairspray and expect bizarre
Sorry to put this community theatre troupe on blast but I am mad on Elliott’s behalf, especially given what he is capable of
Can you imagine if he got the jazzy devil costume?
Alas, he went with a very pink makeup and glitzed it up with a few sparkles around the temples which looked perfectly pretty
but Les did have to coax him into giving it more oomph, which he did by then spray painting his model and seemingly almost giving them an aerosol burn
as someone who grew up in the height of the Deodorant Challenge, all I can say is YIKES.
The final look is very pink and looks like the attempt at a melting ice cream look that every special effects artist will try at some point in their training career
I think it could really have used a contrast colour somewhere, maybe a really electric blue to make the pinks pop and to keep some focus because under the lights it just about vanishes entirely
It’s a real shame but everyone has their off days.
Craig hit the jackpot in terms of the costume with his Venetian style jester outfit
if anything, I imagine it was hard to choose which idea to go for because such a wealth of them spring forward. Ultimately he went for a two-faced look with one side being sad Antarctica and the other side being an impish clown
It’s really brilliant, you can instantly imagine how this would play well on camera with the ability to cheat one side and then reveal the next, it just has an innately cinematic feel to it. It was a very clever design to go with.
The last of our bizarre group was Dolli and her jazzy devil which was also one of the easier costumes to work with and came with the bonus of a pair of horns and wings. Looking at her final makeup look, I now realise that it’s actually a dragon costume and with the lifted, angular contouring of the face she managed to pull it all together into a very dragon-like look
I both love the pinball flipper eyebrows and think they’re maybe a little too crafty. They don’t pull focus though because of the very interesting shapes that she’s created around the eyes and I am obsessed with the whiting of his moustache because all I can envisage is a dragon trying to drink a bowl of milk.
Xavi also had quite a bit of facial hair to contend with has his model had a full on beard
the worry being that you had to black it out completely so to ensure no skin poked through while also hoping to God that whatever you blacken it with doesn’t bleed into the whiteness of the base.
He wasn’t particularly happy with how is makeup turned out and it perhaps looked a little muddy in the lighting of the dressing room
but it was a completely different story the moment it hit the stage lighting where the face just glowed and he looked like the most handsome version of The Penguin from Batman
it’s really top notch work and it works so well with the costume – I might have liked to see a glittery beard, just for the extra razzle dazzle of it all but it might have also crapped it up a little bit too much.
The biggest hurdle that the black and white group had to face was trying to keep their model’s faces crisp and clean and not greying them out while blending the black contour into the white, something Alex struggled with a little more than the rest and her look was maybe a touch too grey
It’s a really fun concept, with the almost Grecian dress, the updo and the kiss curls it reminds me a lot of The Muses from Disney’s Hercules
It’s a little heavy-handed all round but I’m not mad at it.
Sophie had the opposite problem in that she hadn’t contoured hard enough so her model’s face looked a little flat
It’s still very pretty though, I wish she had gone more outrageous with the pearls and I’ve never met a vinyl lip that I don’t envy with the intensity of 1000 burning suns.
An Unofficial Pose Makeup Look Ranking
- Craig’s Two-faced Jester
- Xavi’s Handsome Penguin
- Dolli’s Angular Dragon
- Sophie’s Need For Pearls
- Jack’s Swerve of the Brief
- Alex’s Monochrome Muse
- Ryley’s Matador Pharaoh
- Samah’s Bedraggled Peacock
- Elliott’s Melting Turnblad
It’s a close run race for the win between Xavi and Craig with the win being given to Craig for the sheer imagination of it and how well it’d work on camera – I think they could have taken one from each team but alas, it was a (very well deserved) solo win for Craig after a rough start last week.
Smells Like Freedom
Piggybacking off the theme of strength, identity and personal expression that embodies Pose and the Ballroom Scene, the MUAs had to create a look that symbolises what freedom meant to them and I will admit that when they gave the brief I did do a very bad Braveheart impression and then felt even worse because Sophie was doing a nod to Celtic war paint, which she had the perfect model for
I don’t think I’ve ever seen more enviable hair in my life.
As well as the war paint inspiration she was taking the colours of the Suffragette flag which gave it kind of an Aurora Borealis effect, which was only exaggerated by the spritz of white on the inner corners of her model’s eyes
It’s really captivating and striking – I love that she didn’t put down much foundation, if any, which amplifies the visceral look of the war paint. Dom thought it was simple but I highly disagree, there’s a lot of skill in laying down those colours and not allowing the black to dull them out – Sophie just has an immaculate eye for detail.
With a brief like “Freedom” there was always going to be some heavy emotions and Alex was basing her makeup off the fact 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime and that she, herself, is a survivor of sexual assault and her freedom was in telling her story. It’s an incredibly brave thing to lay it all out on the table like she did and I was worried, I know what it feels like to try and create something that holds a deep, personal significance to you and then have it not go quite to plan – it sucks and it makes you feel like your whole world is crumbling around you. So my heart sank when the blister effect she was trying to do didn’t quite work because she wasn’t using the scarring wax correctly – MY KINGDOM FOR SOME BOX INSTRUCTIONS PLEASE. But she put it one side and cracked on with the rest of her makeup which included a stitched up, but open, mouth and quite a glam, gold makeup – which she managed to finish to perfection and then Sophie, being an angel, helped her figure out what was going on with the wax
It’s a breath-taking image. I appreciate that she didn’t feel the need to overegg the horror of it – it’s subtle, it’s insidious, it’s a deeply personal poison. It’s cliche to say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but truly I think Alex’s is.
There was a lot of talk about bodily autonomy this episode and both Jack and Dolli went the route of body modifications. Dolli’s inspiration came from the Maori tradition of Tā Moko, which is the tattoo style that is emblematic of the Maori people and holds a deep significance to them – they prefer non-Maori tattooers and tattooees to use the term Kirituhi as Tā Moko is historically important and significant to the Maori people. Kirituhi, implies a distancing from the cultural reasons behind the tattoos, translating as “drawn skin” as opposed to Tā Moko which has its origins in Maori religion.
As you can imagine with trying to create the line work and patternation that the tattoos are famous for was a big ask and Dolli did struggle with it quite a bit
It is a little off balance but the styling is one hell of a saving grace because the makeup just isn’t reaching that MUA level that the judges are wanting and that we know Dolli is capable of.
Jack’s body modification theme was based around the practice of scarification, which is illegal in the UK thanks to some obscenely vague laws. Their look required them to give their model a bold cap as they wanted to create a V shaped scar on her forehead using, what I believe is Rigid Collodion if I remember correctly from the student horror films I worked on at University. It basically tightens the skin and gives that sunken in, aged scar effect. And from there they went absolutely ham on the eyeliner
It’s such a cool look and you just have to admire the confidence to really lay down all of those black brush strokes – it gives it that jagged, Junji Ito-style manga look and if there’s one thing Junji Ito loves it’s scarification…
Elliott, who unfortunately had found himself in a red seat, was also taking on the challenge of a bald cap for his embryonic inspired look as it’s the only state in which we are completely free of forced identity labels. I really love the idea but he just didn’t push it far enough
it unfortunately gets compared to both a jelly baby and a Teletubby and for the hell of it I’ll just throw in Nudar from Futarama just to complete the trifecta of slightly shapeless pink things
He has recreated the look on Instagram and I thoroughly suggest checking out HERE.
Samah also found herself in a red chair and doing the largest makeup of the group by turning her model into a poster see you see on the wall of your local GP
I think it’s a very impressive piece, the heart could maybe have done with looking a little less fleshy and a little more vascular. I quite like the scratchy blacking out of her model’s skin – Val was really fixated on the fact the eyebrows were just black and I can’t work out if she wanted Samah to paint them blue and red or if she just really wanted him to have his eyebrows comedically poking out from the makeup?
What I really love is how good Samah is with her models and clients – she’s just very personable and I hope that’ll take her far.
Ryley and Craig found themselves in a face-off of their own as both of them had eerily similar themes involving flying birds and sunsets. Craig was going for a more literal painting style which isn’t personally my favourite kind of a makeup look but I can appreciate the sheer amount of talent and work it took to create something like Craig did
it has a beautifully delicate painterly touch to it – I do have to say I think my favourite detail is the hair, I just love the way the colours are worked into it. As a whole though, it does look a bit like a Hallmark sympathy card
Ryley’s take on a sunset was a little more abstract, in some ways, and luckily for her she didn’t have to colour match this time because it was just a very colourful ombre effect with a few illustrations drawn on
I really love the boldness of the eye and almost wish she had just done both of them like that and left off the little doodles. Dom and Val have more of an issue with the fact she chose to put a non-translucent powder over the top of the ombre which kind of dulled it down and dried it out – you can see a little cracking around the mouth but it’s nothing major. I don’t think the colours are as desaturated as they claimed, or at least they aren’t when on TV.
Lastly we have Xavi who was also creating an ombre effect for his look inspired by the Hindu Goddess Kali as an ode to both his exploration of his heritage and the women in his life. He was once again creating a window effect but was this time free-handing it as opposed to using tape
It’s wonderfully vibrant, the pink to yellow ombre really allows the blue to pop and take on an almost metallic look but my favourite detail is the fact the eyebrows go over the line of the window which really brings them and the eyes forward, it’s like the most beautiful magic eye puzzle.
Also, shout out to the headpiece that I am almost entirely certain is made out of zip ties – it’s very Amber Heard at the Met Gala in 2018.
If you’re interested in seeing what Nic did for her Freedom look, you can go check it out on her Instagram page HERE – it’s a really cool sort of rock opera punk look that of course features glitter.
An Unofficial Freedom Makeup Ranking
- Jack’s Graphic Scarification
- Sophie’s Brave Hearted Suffragette
- Xavi’s Kali Window
- Alex Telling Her Truth
- Craig’s Sympathetic Sunset
- Samah’s Cardiovascular Infographic
- Dolli’s Kirituhi Makeup
- Ryley’s Bird’n’Doodles
- Elliott’s Gummy Bear
Despite their best efforts, neither Samah or Elliott manage to beat the seat and both of them find themselves in the Face Off Challenge in which they must create everyone’s favourite uncomfortable makeup look, the jewelled lips. What’s a jewelled lip I hear absolutely nobody ask, well Val will explain
I’m glad we cleared up that confusion!
With this challenge Dom and Val were mostly looking for symmetry and balance in the placement of the stones, which is a tough ask for 20 minutes in which I would maybe have just slathered my model’s lips with glue and made her kiss the tray and just hoped for the best. But that is why I’m not an MUA.
Both of them took quite a while to lay down the base colour of the lips and then had very different application methods, Elliott going for the better option of coating the models lips and Samah trying to apply glue to each individual stone making it harder to get it to stay on the lip. However she started in the centre of the lips making it easier to create a balanced effect whereas Elliott seemingly went left to right.
There was no denying who had won, Samah’s was much better balanced, if maybe a little sparse on the gem front whereas Elliott’s was ever so slightly unbalanced and I have never been more angry with 1 individual stone than I am at that one poking out of the top left of his lips
It is now my mortal enemy. I shall not rest until I have seen its total destruction. #ThatStoneIsOverParty.
Samah is of course saved and we have to say goodbye to Elliott
I would be sad to see anyone go home, they’re all thoroughly lovely and talented people but I am particularly gutted to see Elliott going home so soon, he’s an incredible artist and has so much to offer, I cannot recommend checking out his Instagram page enough at BanksElliott. If his little hair stocking doesn’t have a fan page yet, I will be making one.
And so, 8 MUAs remain