Backstage at Eco Fashion Week with Marc & Anna Riese - La Biosthetique

All images courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography unless otherwise noted.

Monday at Eco Fashion Week I arrived early so I could head backstage and meet the amazing husband/wife team of Marc and Anna Riese from La Biosthétique Paris. You couldn't have picked a better duo to handle the mayhem of such a large event. This is their 5th season partnered with EFW. All around swirled a team of 19 hair stylists and 19 makeup artists working on 30 models, yet they were in complete control and easily able to delegate so we could have a few moments for a mini-interview. (Note - be sure scroll down and check out the close-up collage of looks at the end of this article.)

Let's start with the company - La Biosthétique Paris - known for it's "Culture of Total Beauty." Core to it's reputation is a full line of quality products that are also environmentally responsible. The term general manager Philip Jung offered when he was introduced on day two hit the nail on the head, Holistic Beauty Products. New products are developed by combining the best hand selected natural raw materials with innovative research, and absolutely no testing is ever done on animals The company also addresses their Eco footprint by using recycled bottles for packaging and printing on recycled materials. In fact, their 100% natural organic line comes in a biodegradable bottle that can be put right in the compost. This level of concern for the environment is a business standard all across Europe.

Images from company website

Marc was born in Germany and is a third generation stylist. He remembers watching both parents as well as his grandmother at work. But hair styling is more than in the genes for this talented artist, it's his passion. Anna was born in Russia and immigrated to Germany where she lived for 20 years. At first she was a company model. She met Marc while he was doing her hair and romance blossomed. She eventually put away modelling aspirations and entered the La Biosthétique makeup/skincare training program. Her experience as a model adds an extra dimension to the knowledge she brings to the table when working with clients. The couple accepted an offer to work in the Paris office for five years and then a year and a half ago moved again, this time to Canada, to step into the role of business owners in charge of the company's West Coast training/education program and distribution.

At the beginning - Image from company website
Each season's preparation starts when pictures and inspiration arrive from the designers and ends with quick changes between runway shows that defy the laws of time. In between is the hard work of making sure every person on their large team knows exactly what needs to happen for each show. Over the week, 70-80 artists from a variety of salons throughout Western Canada will work backstage under Marc and Anna's guidance. They make it look easy. Both talk with the designers, look at pictures and drawings and then offer important feedback on changes they think are needed. After five seasons, the trust level is high and most are open to fine-tuning. A common vision is always found.

Images by Alfonso Arnold

Marc filled me in on hair care and show styling. La Biosthétique's highly trained beauty therapists are actually involved in the creation of new products and provide professional treatments tailored to your personal needs. To my surprise it all starts with the scalp. It's common to be afraid of washing your hair too often, but that's not a problem if you're using the right product. "The beauty ritual starts with a scalp analysis as a healthy scalp means healthy hair. We have a complete scalp method instead of a hair method. For fine hair we have a product for sensitive scalp, for dry scalp and for oily scalp."

This season the runway styling included a lot more crimping. There were still curls, but they were rougher and hairdos more raw. Styling wasn't too chic or too clean. One of the biggest concerns backstage was if you had a model doing several shows. Stylists had to be careful to not use too much product early on as they still had to be able to work that model's hair at the end of the evening. I loved the look seen in Claire Bouvier's show - big hair with plastic hangers incorporated.

Anna walked me through the company's makeup/skincare and show styling. All the high-quality products they offer are natural and/or organic. The first focus is on taking care of a client's skin to make sure it is healthy and free of any blemished or irritations. Only then comes the addition of make-up. Natural preservatives are used - something European countries carefully regulate. When asked for a makeup tip most people ignore Anna shared, "Think about foundation differently. Vancouver is very natural and most think foundation is bad for skin. That was in the 70's and make-up has improved a lot. Especially in the winter time, a good foundation is a must because it protects the skin. My favourite is the Teint Naturel Foundation because it balances out dehydrated skin and evens out imperfections. It also has lots of Vitamin E, A and C which protect the skin from environmental stress like ozone, air pollution and UV rays."

Anna's favourite look on Monday was for Kenneth Barbie (below top left) - exactly the same on both male and female models. It showcased big eyelashes, no liner, an emphasized light eye lid, the inner corner of the lid was bright, highlighter accented the cheekbone and the cupid part of the lip, and then bright pink lipstick finished it off. Definitely a doll look. I loved this too, but also enjoyed the make-up used in the TildArt show - especially the model with orange eyes and matching hat.

La Biosthetique is exclusively available in premier salons and spas. In Vancouver you'll find their products at Zazou Salon & Spa, Strands, Headspace and Black 2 Blond.