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Beauty at Carnegie Hall

If you’re Asian, you were probably required by your parents to learn either violin or piano. Mine was piano. And whenever I complained I was told, “You’ll thank us someday.” Which is true, although I only lasted 4 years and probably would be thanking them more had I lasted longer. But still I am grateful I can at least play a couple songs, such as Fur Elise and Moonlight Sonata—and if I really try I can still read a note or two. Which is also why my little Lucy will carry on to play either violin or piano too. Ha! And so the stereotype continues.

While I don’t know the extent of her parental pressure, Xiang Wang clearly met and exceeded any standard put before her. Of a 2008 recital she did at Carnegie Hall, a New York Times reviewer wrote: “Even for the most gifted young pianist, it takes a lot to be noticed” and described her has having “an estimable grasp of pianistic color…an ability to maintain and illuminate a strand of melody within the thickest of textures.” Exactly what all this means I am not sure but I do understand she’s a recognized talent around the world.

We spent the day doing a photo shoot for the cover of Xiang’s upcoming CD. Because she normally wears very little makeup and was wary of it, I used just enough to emphasize her features.

Here’s what I used:

Powder. Laura Mercier Pressed Setting Powder applied lightly to smooth and matte-ify. Xiang’s skin was not oily, but any skin type can look shiny in photographs.

Eye Shadow. The darker shade of Clinique’s Colour Surge Eye Shadow Duo in Like Mink from lash to crease and blended up. Tip: If you have trouble applying or blending eye shadow, Clinique is a good choice because their shadows are not highly pigmented so color can be built gradually.

Eye Liner. YSL’s Waterproof Eye Pencil in Black applied right on top and bottom lash lines to emphasize her eye shape and make lashes look fuller. For her eyebrows, I used the same liner by applying a swatch on the back of my hand (to use as a palette) and an angled Eye Brow Brush to gently brush on the natural shape of her eyebrows.

Lashes. Short individual false lashes applied on top lash line to create thicker, longer lashes. While it might sound as if fake lashes could never look natural, when applied correctly individual falsies look more natural than mascara. Xiang looked quite alarmed when I said I was using false lashes but as you can see it looks very natural.

Blush. Bare Escentuals Bare Minerals Blush blended to sculpt and emphasize her high cheekbones.

Lip Gloss. philosophy Raspberry Sorbet Lip Shine with a lip pencil to add just a touch of color and shine.

This shoot was with photographer Chris Lee* and hairstylist Kristan Serafino at Steinway Hall on 57th Street. If ever you are in NYC and play piano or even just love piano, go visit. As formal and imposing and museum-like as it appears, the staff is easy-going and welcoming and you’re free to wander through the building to play the many different pianos in the various rooms. And while some of the world’s best pianists play there, no one even cares if that for you it’s just playing Fur Elise.

*Note: I think Chris would appreciate that, with the exception of the beautiful image of Xiang in blue, I let you know that none of the other images posted here are his. Most of them are taken by an amateur (me) on my iPhone.

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