Just when you thought you couldn’t amp up the bling in Lesley Mobo’s collection, Henri Calayag proved equally audacious in his hair-and-makeup design to complement the London-based fashion designer’s “Dynasty”-Studio 54-Tudor-inspired looks for the Red Charity Gala.
Hair was big and bigger, as the jeweled eyelids and lips had more than just a fairy dusting of glitter—incidentally, one of the key looks of the season, as seen at Rodarte, Zac Posen, Temperley London.
No two looks were alike—brows were painted either gold, cerulean or scarlet, and peppered with sequins, crystals and sparkly dust. Hair was an unabashed ode to 1980s excess, voluminous and over-the-top, such that each look held its own next to a Mobo dress.
The makeup design was a product of two months of Viber exchanges between Calayag, Mobo, director Ariel Lozada and stylist Noel Manapat. But nothing was final until they did the test makeup the day before last Friday’s show. When he finally saw the clothes, Calayag felt relief seeing how they fit the cosmic look he had envisioned.
Calayag, an industry veteran, was on tenterhooks, meaning to get it right, as it was his first time to design the look for a show in a long time. The last was for Inno Sotto’s show in Paris in 1995, where Lozada made his directorial debut.
Lozada asked him to come onboard, but it was Mobo’s inspiring life story that clinched the deal, says Calayag, who met the designer in London while on vacation last year.
“I told him that: ‘I’m doing this for you,’” he says.
It was by choice that Calayag receded from the spotlight in the last two decades, content to attend to his clients, many of them socialites and celebrities, including Red Charity Gala co-chair Kaye Tiñga.
“Kids don’t know me anymore!” he says with a laugh. “I decided a long time ago to pay it forward by giving way to the new generation, to leave it to them to be in the limelight… My thought was, quit while you’re ahead. It’s also part of the training in this industry, for you to decide what you really want to do.”
Calayag’s industry friends like Rhett Eala and Michele Sison were excited to see him in his element, documenting his comeback on social media.
“Three decades ago when there was no Photoshop, instant anti-aging treatments that freeze youthfulness, Henri’s work was in-demand,” Sison wrote on Instagram. “If you did not have perfect eyebrows and a symmetrical face, Henri created it for parties, editorials and fashion shows… more often he knew how to mesmerize, glamorize, shock and surprise.”
Backstage, Calayag led a team of 16 makeup artists, including the likes of Eric Maningat.
“I was sent back to my youth, when I was starting. I felt the energy,” he says. His fears were unfounded. “If it’s in your system… it’s like riding a bike. I realized I could still command.”