Susie Rushton: Beauty queen

Saturday 23 February 2008 01:00 GMT

You've read it dozens of times on the back of eyeshadows and foundations, but what does "nude" really mean? In truth, it shouldn't necessarily mean a shade just a tad paler than milky-white. This is a minor point, really, but a pertinent one right now as a storm gathers over the very apparent lack of black and Asian models in the imagery created by the fashion and beauty industry.

It was a question that I discussed last week with make-up supremo James Kaliardos, a man who has wielded the blending brush for every Vogue magazine going. Over from New York to loan his talent backstage to London designers including Basso & Brooke and Julien Macdonald, Kaliardos has for the past five years been the official make-up artist for L'Oréal – and as one of beauty's mega-brands, you can't get much more of a global perspective than that. One of the collections he created for the L'Oréal is called "Nudes", which offers natural, skin tones to match a cosmopolitan range of faces including African to Asian skins. "If you're darker, 'nude' isn't about being paler," he says. But even from a purely fashionable perspective, nudes – which dominated the late-night, smokey-eyed look he created for Basso & Brook's autumn/winter 08 show (pictured) – are a topical subject. "I was looking at old magazines with Anjelica Huston when researching this look," says Kaliardos, "And also the work of Annie Leibovitz, who is really de-saturating the colour in her photographs at the moment."

Backstage, Kaliardos used L'Oréal Paris Color Appeal eyeshadow in Starry Night, brushed into the crease of the eye and dragged out, leaving a space just under the eyebrow. And to get that flawless appearance, Touché Magique concealer was dotted under the eye, around the nose and eyelid and under the brow – available in three shades, it offers coverage for every 'nude', whatever that word means to you.

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