Bold colors, intricate patterns, and A-list stars brought life to The Barker Hangar in Santa Monica this past weekend, thanks to Where Art Can Occur (WACO) Theater Center’s 5th Annual Wearable Art Gala. WACO was founded in 2017 by Founders and Co-Artistic Directors, Richard Lawson and Tina Knowles Lawson (yes, Beyoncé’s mom), as a “performing and visual arts organization that presents, commissions and develops artistic works dedicated to stories of the African diaspora.”
Each year, the theater holds a gala where stars come dressed to the nines, adhering to the theme for the evening. The 2022 WACO Wearable Art’s Gala’s theme was Harlem Nights, and Lupita Nyong’o and her sister, Fiona Nyong’o arrived at the scene in scaley flapper-girl dresses, each done up with dramatic eyeshadow reminiscent of ‘80s opulence.
The Nyong’o sisters’ makeup artist, Nick Barose, gives Byrdie the inside scoop on his inspiration and execution.
Here’s the thing about party themes—although it’s fine to come dressed in a look that is directly transplanted from the theme, it’s also acceptable (and, in our opinion, more fun) to use the theme as inspiration and create your own meaning behind a look.
“The theme for the event is Harlem jazz era with icons like Billie Holiday [and] Ella Fitzgerald, but I also want to pay homage to the next generation icons, like ‘80s Aretha Franklin and Patti Labelle with fun, colorful ‘80s eye make up on Lupita and her sister Fiona,” Barose tells Byrdie.
Both Lupita and Fiona wore De Beers diamonds and custom floor-length dresses designed by Duaba Serwa, a Ghanaian women’s wear brand. The dresses adhered to Duaba Serwa’s distinctive scaley designs, which offer a geometric twist on the classic flapper skirt, fitting for a jazzy night out. Barose says, “The looks were all black, and with diamonds, so it lent well to really fun, ‘80s-inspired colorful makeup.”
Barose also notes that the makeup looks were in part inspired by his own makeup aspirations in life. “We are definitely seeing a lot of late ‘70s-80s opulence trend,” Barose reveals. “That era is always one of my favorites because that’s when I was a little gay boy growing up in Thailand, playing with my mom and aunties’ makeup, dreaming about the over-the-top glamour. [Back then], you could use all the colors all at once, and that’s kind of what I did on Lupita here.”
“It’s all in the prepping,” says Barose—the trick to having makeup stay on all night is a great skin care routine to hydrate the complexion, while a solid priming routine locks makeup in place. Barose started off with the Lancôme Advanced Génifique Face Serum ($115), noting, “[it’s] always my go-to for red carpet and photo ops—it adds hydration minus the grease, so it won’t interfere with the foundation and makeup.”
Next, Barose applied the Lancôme Prep + Matte Primer ($37) along Nyong’o’s t-zone to minimize shine. “It’s nice to let natural glow peek through on the cheekbones. First, blot away excess moisturizer—especially on the t-zone—then apply a pea-sized drop of the primer focusing on the t-zone. [There’s] no need to wear it all over the face (unless you have oily skin).” To ensure a standout glow along Nyon’o’s cheekbones, Barose used his go-to Armani Beauty Fluid Sheer Glow Enhancer ($38).
Barose finished his prepping routing with the Lancôme Prime It Boost It Eyeshadow Primer ($26) to “help eyeshadow color to pop and stay more true as well as making it long-wearing, crease proof.”
“For foundation, Lancôme’s Teint Idole Ultra Wear ($52) is perfection for red carpet moments—it photographs beautifully and really lasts.” After foundation application, Barose used the Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear All Over Concealer ($29) to brighten the under eyes. He set this with the Lancôme Dual Finish Powder Foundation ($49), saying, “this powder compact is perfect to keep your makeup looking polished all night.”
As for eyes, Barose alluded to ‘80s icons like Patti Labelle and Grace Jones, who taught the world what it meant to use colored eyeshadow.
Barose created an unforgettable cascade of cool-toned hues on Lupita’s eye, starting off with Lancôme’s Hypnôse 5-Color Eyeshadow Palette in Kaki Electrique ($50) to add bright emerald green and khaki shades to the center of the eye. Then, Barose used royal blue eyeshadow from the Bleu Hypnotique palette ($50) to the outer corner of the eye, elongating the shadow into an ‘80s-esque wing. Finally, Barone added Lancôme’s Color Design Eyeshadow in 305 ($23), a rosy-purple shade, to the inner corners.
“For Fiona‘s eyes, I used Lancôme’s Hypnôse Palette in Bleu Hypnotique for that electric blue. I love this wet and dry formula—when you dampen the brush or sponge tip applicator, it makes the texture creamy and brings out even more metallic shine for extra drama. Plus, when you use it wet, it’s less messy because you can control the pigment fall out—a dream formula to create quick drama minus the mess.”
Barose then finished the eyes off by lining the upper and lower lash lines with the Lancôme Idôle Liner ($22) and a quick swipe of the Lancôme Lash Idôle Mascara ($27) to add volume and lift to the lashes.
“For these colorful eyes looks, I didn’t want the lips to be too bright so we went with darker tones,” Barose mentions. “I love the Lancôme Le Lip Liner ($28) because its gel texture is longwearing and smooth so it won’t look harsh or severe. The shade Amandelle is my go-to for Lupita.” Barose then finished the look off with the Lancôme L’Absolu Rouge Lipstick ($32) in shade Mademoiselle Isabella on Lupita for a deep plum finish, and shade Nuit Parisienne for a berry red look on Fiona.