So last Thursday we got a drag-over. There was no real occasion or special event, we were just desperate to see what one of our team would look like in a full face of drag-tastic slap. And we certainly weren’t disappointed…
“I can’t believe I’m doing this…” was all we heard from #DRAG-er Matt as we made our way through a heaving Covent Garden to the MAC store. However after 90 minutes in the skilled hands of MAC artist Karl Hodson Matt had certainly changed his tune. “I’m just devastated I don’t have a wig,” was his new line.
The transformation was so impressive that the skeptic was converted. Well, for one night anyway.
We asked Karl, who loves doing drag makeovers, to go for a look which was dramatic but feminine. We didn’t want to emulate the cartoonish cabaret look: all massive red-lips and too much blue eyeshadow. Instead we wanted Matt to look like he could swagger his way to Ru Paul’s Drag Race with the best of the dazzling US drag divas.
We asked Karl to talk us through the transformation:
Step One: “Block out the brows, then recreate a feminine line. They are the main part which creates the shape of the face.”
Matt’s strong brows blocked out with a white paste (which looked pretty comical at first, kind of like a crude farce of Marie Antoinette). Then a new pair of arched, face-framing beauties were drawn on in thick DIY liner.
Step Two: “You’ve got to now really bring out the eyes. They are the most intense part of the look.”
With shadow, liner, mascara and some heavy-duty lashes, Matt’s baby blues were transformed into a piercing aqua stare. Fierce.
Step Three: “Contouring is the key. You can totally re-design the entire face.”
It was pretty staggering to see what Karl could do with a set of brushes, and an assortment of bronzers and highlighters. Matt’s (already impressively high) cheekbones were remoulded into razor-sharp proportions. Karl explained that this is exactly how stars like Kim Kardashian fake supermodel bone structure.
Step Four: “You always should finish with the lips after the mood of the look is set.”
Karl created the perfect pout for Matt by using a variety of shades of lipstick over heavy, artfully-applied berry liner. He explained that this shading was the key to achieving a voluminous shape.
Karl’s top tip for doing the perfect drag-over?
“Ignore everything you see on the male face. Create a blank canvas and then start from scratch.”
It was fascinating to get inside the head of a drag makeover artist and see just how much can be masked, faked, and created by their skillfull hands.
I kind of want one now…
More examples of Karl’s work can be found on his website: http://makeupbykarl.webs.com/
Words by Roisín Dervish-O’Kane
Film and photography: Roisín Dervish-O’Kane and Leonie Roderick