What do Rihanna, Dolly Parton, Solange, and Courtney Love have in common?
Aside from producing some of our favorite music (count us as fans), these women have graced us with so many iconic looks over the years. For these artists, fashion and beauty has been inextricably intertwined with their music. Their personal style is readily identifiable and the distinct looks they’ve crafted for albums covers and music videos have stayed with us long after their release.
Courtney Love’s baby doll-meets-grunge remains a quintessential ‘90s look. And Solange? Can you even pick one favorite ensemble? The same with Rihanna; the woman keeps serving look after look. (Ahem, let’s not forget the “naked” dress she wore to accept the award for Style Icon at the CFDAs in 2014).
With Halloween upon us, we decided to pay homage to these music trailblazers by re-creating our favorite beauty looks of theirs over the years. To do this, we reached out to Stacey Nishimoto, makeup artist and owner of The Corner Store and hairstylist Dylan Chavles for help.
Ahead, the two walk us through how we can re-create their stunning looks with some simple makeup and hair techniques. Though, as Nishimoto aptly reminded us, don’t agonize too much over the details on Halloween. It will (probably) be dark and sweaty at that Halloween party, anyway.
The inspiration: Album Cover Art for A Seat at the Table
When Solange released A Seat at the Table in 2016, everyone took notice. Not only was it Solange’s first number-one album on the Billboard 200, but critics loved it and fans adored it for the way it uplifted and recognized Black women’s experiences. While Solange gave us plenty of memorable looks in the music videos for the singles off A Seat at the Table, who can forget how Solange turned otherwise ordinary hair clips into a visually stunning statement?
For the makeup in this easy-to-do look, you’ll want to aim for natural-looking skin and, of course, many, many clips in the hair. “It’s all about the skin, which is glowing, natural, yet polished looking,” said Nishimoto. Keep everything else minimal with a tender gloss on the lids that match the lips. “Her brows are the strongest feature that are groomed to punctuate this au naturel look,” Nishimoto said.
The hair, here, is the key to the look. “If you already have a natural wave or curl pattern, brush it out and then put the clips in where your curl pattern recedes so it’s almost like you have it setting in that way,” Chavles said. The more the better.
Get the look:
Emphasize skin with a satin finish foundation and a veil of loose powder
S.N.:Make sure the skin is nice and moisturized and the foundation will glow. A creamy, satin finish foundation is what will stand out. For our model’s skin, we used Dior Forever Undercover 24H full coverage foundation to get a nice, even look.
Place sheer cocoa gloss on lids
S.N.:For the eyes, I do a little bit of mocha eyeshadow using the limited-release NARS Dolomites duo eyeshadow palette (find a similar version here). Then, with the finger I tapped gloss over the entire lid.
Fully fill in brows and brush through
S.N.:Fill the brow pretty heavy with a pencil, and then brush it through.
Mimic the glossy cocoa lids with lip balm and lip liner
S.N.:I used mocha lip gloss on the lips as well to match the glossy lids.
Place clips in hair at natural bend
D.C.: We just used small Madholly duckbill clips for the hair. If you don’t have a natural curl pattern, you can curl your hair and brush it out. Add some dry shampoo or texturizing powder liked Bumble and Bumble Prêt-à-powder, which adds volume for a fuller fluffier look to it. The key, though, is to still put the clips in where the wave pattern recedes.
The Final Look
The inspiration: Dolly Parton’s Western fashion circa ’80s
The hilarious Grammy-winning goddess Dolly Parton won our feminist hearts in her role in the 1980 film 9to 5 , in which she and two other characters (played by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin) take down their their “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” boss. From her bawdy nature to sky-high hair, nothing about the blonde icon is subtle.
The key to this look is focusing on getting the hair just right (the bigger the better). “It’s not meant to look traditionally beautiful, it’s meant to look really plastic and put together and big and fun,” Chavles said. For the face, you’ll want a late ’70s/early ’80s ultra-glam makeup look. “She uses three or more shades of eye shadows (at the very least) always with a touch of frost and almost always rosy and lavender shades and, of course, complete with a pair of faux lashes,” Nishimoto said. “Contouring blush is a must as well as a rusty red shiny lip.”
Get the look:
Use eyeshadows with a pretty sheen
S.N.:The eyes are really important, and I used the quad four, five different shades of rose, and lavender, and pink. Work from the lash-line up to the brow; she’s full of eyeshadow.
Don’t forget the false eyelashes
S.N.:It is Dolly, after all!
Contour cheeks with a brick color
S.N.:I use a brick blush like they did in the ’80s: high on the cheek bone. On our model, we used NARS blush in Exhibit A. Using a nice dense medium size blush brush makes it easy, and then if you kind of do a windshield wiper effect, it’ll seamlessly blend into the skin. And don’t be afraid, it’s an evening look! It’s going to disappear into the night so just be liberal with application. I think a strong red cheek is important to connect the eyes to the frosty rust lip.
Leave the lips for last
S.N.:Line lips with a soft, rust-colored gloss to complete the baby doll look. We used Proenza Schouler for Lancôme Lip Kajal, which is a lipstick and gloss duo, making it a perfect lip for Dolly.
Set your hair on rollers
D.C.:You gotta either get a wig, and if you don’t want to get a wig, I recommend setting your hair on rollers, or truly taking the time to curl your hair, back comb your hair, brush your set out. If your hair is finer, I always like to put mousse like this R+Co Rodeo Star Thickening Style Foam through the roots before a set. Then, blow dry it all through, and then take all of your sections, and do a traditional, barrel curled back, with front sections curled forwards. Let it cool down—that’s a super important part of sets—is letting it cool down for at least 30 minutes, and then pulling all your pins out. Brush it out, and tease it into place.
The Final Look
The inspiration: Courtney Love’s exaggerated crimson lip, messy hair and tiara look from the ’90s
There are few other women whose fashion, beauty and look came to embody an era. And when we think of the ’90s grunge era, we think of none other than Courtney Love. As the lead singer of Hole, Love helped define what grunge sounded and looked like. While Love has since admitted she now prefers a more classic look, her go-to makeup during those years featured a large, red, less-than-perfect lip applied imperfectly. “The look is kinda of a pretty grunge babydoll look,” Nishimoto said. You’ll want to powder your skin for a matte look and keep your eyes soft with fresh eyeshadow hues and lightly smudge a brown eyeliner around eyes. Oh, and don’t forget the tiara. Love often wore a simple and small rhinestone tiara throughout the decade. (Just search Pinterest for ideas.)
Get the look:
Over exaggerate shape of lips with a candy apple, silk red lipstick
S.N.:Use a lip brush and creamy red lipstick like this Tom Ford lipstick in Scarlett to get Love’s over-exaggerated red lip, and go above and beyond the lip line.
Use soft, pretty eyeshadows with plenty of black mascara
S.N.:On our model’s eyes, I did soft moss green and soft pastel pink shadows and heavy mascara. For that eye look, I used a Laura Mercier Kohl Eye Pencil in brown copper along the lower lash line and smudged it in, kinda like she slept in her makeup. It’s more ’90s to have a chocolatey, warm smudge instead of black eyeliner. Otherwise, it’d be too glam.
Choose a soft, baby pink blush
S.N.:Courtney Love liked heavy, creamy matte powder and foundation and barely= there babydoll pink cheeks. Keep the rest of the face matte and clean.
Get hair that’s lived-in
D.C.:For Courtney Love hair, the dirtier the better. Preferably don’t wash your hair. If your hair is kind of stringy and straight, that’s perfect. You can put a little bit of bend in it with a flat iron or lightly bend it with a curling iron without getting any of the bottoms so you can keep them straight. For that added piece-y-ness and texture, I used Kiehl’s Creme with Silk Groom on our model. If your hair is clean and thick, you can oil it down with something like grooming cream or some texturizing wax spray. Avoid using any kind of dry texture sprays. The whole point of this is for it to look sweaty, and messy, and lived in. We finished the look with this small Pixnor Wedding Tiara.
The Final Look
The inspiration: RiRi’s cover look from the September issue of British Vogue
We’ll admit that trying to pick only one look from Rihanna is nearly impossible. During her acceptance speech for the Fashion Icon Award at the CFDAs in 2014, she explained how fashion was a self-defense mechanism for her during childhood. “Even as a child I remember thinking, ‘She can beat me, but she cannot beat my outfit,’” she said during her speech. To narrow down the list of iconic looks from her, we looked to the recent September issue of British Vogue, where Rihanna sported pencil-thin eyebrows (a nod to the fashions of the ’20s) and a colorful flower crown.
Aside from the flowers, to really nail the look, you’ll have to mask your current eyebrows (unless you actually want to over-pluck them, but we doubt that’s the case!). To do this, Nishimoto advises taking a cue from what drag queens do when they want to mask their eyebrows: Use a washable glue stick. (Who knew the elementary school staple could serve another purpose?)
Get the look:
Cover up brows with a glue stick
S.N.:You start with the brows first, on clean skin. You take the glue stick, and you go up against the grain of your hair. Get it nice and saturated with glue, and make sure it’s really smooth. Let it dry, and then go over it again with the glue stick and just plaster it down. It’s important, you have to do it twice. After that, you set it with powder.
Use orange concealer to neutralize colors
S.N.:Next, you get a orange concealer. It’s a color corrector, and that’s gonna knock out the discoloration, the darkness [of the brows]. Press a creamy orange concealer over and set that with orange powder eye-shadow. It’s gonna look like big orange caterpillars over your eyes. And you have to erase that with your own flesh color, so you stamp over with creamy concealer closer to your actual skin tone. Use stamping motions with the sponge because you don’t wanna interrupt all that layer that you just applied, then set it with powder.
Powder your face and use lots of highlighter
S.N.:Once the brows are knocked out, then you go in and you complete the face with foundation and powder. And there’s a lot of highlight in this makeup look, so, the bridge of the nose, underneath the eyes are highlighted. You could use a powder, pearly color. Note that her face is contoured with bronzer underneath the cheek bone. Not on the apple, just more underneath.
Do the eyes and draw pencil-thin brows
S.N.:Fill the crease of lids with smokey shadows and curl lashes with mascara. We filled in the creases in with a wine/taupe soft shadow. Then, you can take a super sharp pencil or a liquid liner with the felt tip and draw in a thin line that follows your own natural brow line. And you definitely need some eyelashes for this. We finish with lashes.
Saturate lips with a glossy vampy color
S.N.:Last, is a super heavy, saturated wine lip with lots of shine. Like a glossy wine, vampy lip. You use a deep plum lip liner. (Lip liner makes a dark lip easier to do because you have more control of the pencil, and then you just go in and fill it in with a deep plum lipstick, and then last, you layer on the gloss from the lip line all the way to the center of the lip.) For our model I used the limited-release Chanel Vamp lipstick (here’s a product similar to the Chanel Rouge Allure shade) for the lips.
Pin fake flowers along crown
D.C.:For this, I put our model’s hair in small hair knots. I pinned the flowers onto the knots with hair pins until I achieved the right combination of colors and shape I wanted. As amazing as real flowers are, please get fake flowers because once you cut the flowers off your stems they’ll wilt in about 20, 30 minutes. It’s actually a pretty easy look, technically. It’s more of a visual and something you can get really creative with.
The Final Look