Behind the Scenes at DFW: How Hair and Makeup Artists Make Runway Looks Pop

It takes a village for events like Denver Fashion Week (DFW) to succeed. This past week, the acclaimed fashion week returned for a seven-day event that brought elevated fashion collections to the Mile High City. Although what the audience sees is captivating, what goes on behind the scenes is what truly makes the runway looks come to life. 

303 Magazine caught up with several hair and makeup artists (MUAs) that worked diligently to make the models at DFW radiate on the runway.

Juan Lino

Backstage can be hectic at events like DFW. That’s why for the hair and makeup artists, working as a team is of the utmost importance. For Salon Education Director at Hairdressing Co. in Colorado Springs Juan Lino, the team that he works with on a daily basis joined the MUAs on Wardrobe Night. The final looks made for a runway show that elevated Denver Fashion Week.

READ: From Elegant Womenswear to Pieces Catered to Men, Here’s What You Missed at Denver Fashion Week Night 3

Joined by his team, this was Lino’s first time working at DFW. While at first it was nerve-racking to work backstage, the experience was extremely fulfilling for Lino.

It’s actually been really exciting, super exhilarating. We made a lot of connections and we’ve just had a really good time working with everybody, connecting, networking. It’s been really really fun,” he said.

Founder of INHERENTTaylor Draper, is a friend and client of Lino’s. Therefore, doing hair for the brand’s looks was the perfect fit. Additionally, Lino’s team was ready for any challenge that may come their way.

Hause of Lino team, photo by Shelby Moeller

We have a team culture — working together and working as a team is very important to us,” Lino added. 

While Lino worked on a variety of looks on the third night of DFW, there was one that stood out. Alongside hairdresser Mae Jones, Lino helped transform a model’s hair into something that was perfect for the runway look that she wore.

We spent a really good amount of time on it, it was kind of slicked back,” he said. However, all of the excitement was seeing “everyone and everything that we’ve done and see our work on the stage.”

Juan Lino doing a model’s hair backstage at DFW. Photo by Shelby Moeller.

Jordyn Arielle

Makeup artist Jordyn Arielle has worked on models for fashion shows before, but this was her first season at DFW. She served as the makeup lead for several nights of this season’s week-long event including Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

For Arielle, the experience was a huge achievement. While often the atmosphere backstage is hectic, seeing the models with a complete look makes it feel worth it.

“Doing makeup for DFW can be stressful but I thrive under those high-pressure situations, there is nothing better than seeing the final product on the runway after hours of makeup,” Arielle said.

Although hair and makeup at a runway show are meant to complete the looks that take the stage, there is also a sense of fulfillment for the models. As a makeup artist, Arielle sees the model’s reactions to the final product. This is often the best part of the entire experience, as she loved to make “every model feel like the most beautiful version of themselves,” she said.

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Some of the MUAs backstage are freelancers or work independently, and others are a part of a team outside of DFW. However, when it comes down to all of the individuals working on hair and makeup backstage, that team atmosphere drives the energy of the events.

Arielle appreciates this aspect of DFW as well, and finds it exciting “getting to work with the dream team that was the other amazing makeup artists,” she said.

To get an idea of the behind-the-scenes process, Arielle painted a picture that we can all probably imagine. “Backstage at the events looks like a lot of powder and lip gloss getting everyone’s last looks ready before they hit the runway,” she added.

With the smell of hairspray and powder floating through the air comes an exceptional feeling. Doing hair and makeup at DFW is an accomplishment, and one that Arielle is proud to have been a part of.

Her advice to those looking to be in her shoes one day is to conceive, believe and receive. “I never thought I would ever work DFW in my life. I truly believe if you want it bad enough you will be here as well,” she said.

After a busy week working to make the DFW runway look better than ever before, Arielle feels profoundly grateful for the experience.

“I just appreciate tremendously the amount of diversity that these shows had and also the way that as a makeup artist I felt incredibly appreciated was amazing,” she said.

Leah Llanes

Leah Llanes, licensed esthetician and professional MUA, joined the backstage team at DFW this season. After doing makeup for the last Denver Fashion Week as well, she was excited to be immersed in the unique experience again.

This past week, Llanes worked on models for five of the seven nights of runway shows. The opportunity allows her to connect with fellow MUAs and dive into the Denver fashion scene in the process.

“Networking and getting myself out there again has been very fulfilling for me and I love being apart of new upcoming talent which feels like a great time for Denver fashion,” she said.

The most rewarding aspect for Llanes has been the friendships that have developed amongst the MUAs who work at Denver Fashion Week. Since backstage is often a hectic environment, those who work behind the scenes tend to establish close bonds that last even when DFW is over.

For Llanes, these are “the friendships I’ve built through the chaos. You really become close when your forced to work as a team. You can’t do something great when you only look out for yourself and I feel fortunate to have met some amazing team players,” she added.

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To those looking to get involved backstage at DFW, Llanes encourages local MUAs to take the chance. While it may seem like daunting, the experience itself is worthwhile.

“I would say don’t be afraid to mess up. You cannot grow without making mistakes so take it all in and assess what could have made things run more smoothly, efficiently and/or areas you may just need to work on as an artist and then try to do better the next go around. One moment will never define you as long as you don’t make yourself live in it,” she said.

The Talent Behind Every Look

Check out all of the hair and makeup artists who helped make this season’s DFW come to life. To see the looks from each night, head to the 303 Magazine 2022 photo galleries

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Sunday, April 3: Kids Couture 

Factory FashionDarrel DeWitt , Glamour by Sky, Scott Lobben, Wesley Buford, Mathew Joseph Vitale, Christopher Dutton, Erika R., Jordyn Arielle, Danielle Reed, Taylour Johnson, Face Forward Denver and Rhonda Castaneda.

Saint Ida: Darrel DeWitt , Glamour by Sky, Scott Lobben, Wesley Buford, Mathew Joseph Vitale, Christopher Dutton, Erika R., Jordyn Arielle, Danielle Reed and Taylour Johnson.

Monday, April 4: Streetwear

KanchikoHaley Rose Beauty, Kimberley Fox, Corri Schro, Sydney Carrington, Jordyn Arielle, Leah Llanes, Luis Felipe Rodriguez Garcia, Donald Teran and Dazzmin.

Kilo Brava, Sliv Life and Adobe Darko: Haley Rose Beauty, Kimberley Fox, Corri Schro, Sydney Carrington, Jordyn Arielle, Leah Llanes, Luis Felipe Rodriguez Garcia and Donald Teran.

Tuesday, April 5: Wardrobe

KetiVani: Alfonso Olarte, Colorado Spgs Hair by Callie, Juan Lino, Kirra Savoy, Ciera Edwards, Esther @ DT Hairdressing Co., Lisa Mendicino, Lauren Taylor, Mae Jones, Anco Hong, Allie Taylor and Kate Tulia.

INHERENT: Juan Lino, Alfonso Olarte, Kirra Savoy, Colorado Spgs Hair by Callie and Ciera Edwards.

Wednesday, April 6: Local Couture

Rachel Marie Hurst: Elijah Bleu, Norris, Kyle Hamilton, Leah Llanes, Ezri Cisson, Amanda Wood, Birch Salon Denver, Emma Johnson, April Jackson and Kayla Does Hair.

MARGINAL: Elijah Bleu, Norris, Ezri Cisson, Birch Salon Denver, Kyle Hamilton, Leah Llanes and Tèa Chiarelli.

Aversano Designs: Elijah Bleu, Norris, Kyle Hamilton, Leah Llanes, Ezri Cisson, Amanda Wood, Birch Salon Denver, Sara Z Hair, The Extension Authority, Kayla Does Hair, Chandler McKenzie and April Jackson.

Tara Hari Couture: Elijah BleuKyle Hamilton, Leah Llanes, The Extension Authority, Birch Salon Denver and Amanda Wood.

Thursday, April 7: International Night Featuring KolchagovBarba

KolchagovBarba: Erin Wyrick, Amanda Humber, Donald Teran, Anco Hong, Kyle Hamilton, Jordyn Arielle, Connor Lusk and Pia Maria.

Saturday, April 9: Sustainable Night

Gulosch Garments, Hott Pink Matter, Lost Room Collective, Rags, TAHIRA, February Jones Presents: The Common Collective and Killionaire: Yahaira Bautista, Luis Felipe Rodriguez Garcia, Chandler McKenzie, Leah Llanes, Kyle Hamilton, Whitney Franklin, Emmy-Lea Agustin, Beth, Carlos Carreon, Alexa Saraff and Alex Grubbs.

Sunday, April 10: Lifestyle Night

The Outlets at Castle Rock: Kimberley Fox, Jenny Walker, Emmy Agustin, Mayte Manrique, Mae JonesCarlos Carreon, Shane Wilson, Marina Volman, Corina Romero, Whitney Thomas, Allie Taylor, Lauren Taylor, Jamie Gatson, Mariah Trujillo, Yahaira Bautista, Kyle Hamilton and Leah Llanes.

Interested in getting involved with DFW? Check out the participate tab on the official Denver Fashion Week website to volunteer, model, do hair and makeup or obtain a press pass for the Fall.

All photography by Adrienne Thomas, Shelby Moeller and Fernando Gomes. Video by Joy Weinberg and song by Disco Lines