Backstage Beauty

Courtesy Giorgio Armani Beauty

Giorgio Armani is bringing his couture colors to makeup counters straight from his shows.

We used to do our runway makeup colors like everyone else,” says Linda Cantello, international makeup artist for Giorgio Armani. “Eighteen months before the shows, and just hope that Mr. Armani’s collection would match ours. Then one year, it went horribly wrong.”

Armani told the team the main color theme would be green. “He gave us the fabric,” says Cantello, “but then he used it in the Emporio collection and made the Privé collection a beige-sand color!” That’s basically when Armani Runway Lab was born.

“I had created this purple color and had a tiny bit of pigment in my bag,” she says. “I stupidly showed it to Mr. Armani. Then thought, why did I do that? Of course he will choose that one, and he did. We had been working on it, but couldn’t get it to stop running. We had a base, got some pigments from the lab, and mixed it backstage. We realized that by bringing pigments and bases along with us, we had the perfect solution to getting the color we wanted, and giving my 30 assistants the right shade to match.”

Cantello’s makeup bag grew and grew with big pots of pigments and bases, “until it weighed like 60 tons! So when we came to New York, we went to the Container Store and bought those really chic plastic boxes, and it became what we called the ‘mobile lab.’”

At the next show, Mr. Armani saw it. “He says, ‘What’s that?!’ ” Cantello explains. “He loved the idea but hated the way it looked. So he had them build us the lab and we now have this beautiful installation that stays in Milan, but can move with us when we need it.

“It makes my life so much easier and helps me to think out of the box. I will use, for example, a lipstick base for an eyeshadow, and that’s how the idea for new products emerge. It’s practical. We need to solve a problem and make something that works really fast. It cuts out a lot of the testing because we use it backstage and understand that it works.”

The beauty look for the Armani Fall/Winter 2015 show is now available in a limited edition—six months after its creation.

From $30; armanibeauty.com.