Interview with the creative minds behind 'The Voice'
Heather Elliott, Overseas Contributor
No one can argue that NBC's 'The Voice' Season Five winner, Tessanne Chin, has serious pipes and some serious style. Each week on our television screens, we've watched this incredible songstress transform from jeans and an easy, breezy top at the blind auditions to killer couture on the night of the finals when she stunned in a Jovani Fashions number.
As you can imagine, it takes an experienced team with the know-how to make Tessanne and her fellow 'Voice' contestants appear so impeccably well put together each week.
Erin Hirsh, Emmy-nominated costume designer and celebrity stylist, was the wardrobe genie and hard-working stylist behind the looks of our new 'it girl' for 'The Voice'. We recently caught up with Erin a few days after 'The Voice' finale as she was winding down from a hectic season, and spoke with her about the looks behind the 2013 season of 'The Voice'.
OVER-THE-TOP TO NORMAL
Known to style some of the world's most renowned pop stars and rappers, including Rihanna, Kanye West, Ceelo Green, and Janelle Monae, Hirsh told Outlook how she started working for 'The Voice'.
"A producer of the show was familiar with my work and asked me to come in for an interview. It's funny, they were actually a bit cautious before hiring me because they had only seen my over-the-top designs and I had to assure them that I could do normal," she said.
Week after week, Hirsh and her team were charged with putting together countless looks for contestants with varying tastes, styles and sizes, something she explained required a lot of fittings on a daily basis. "I would say the one thing we did was to gently guide each contestant out of their everyday comfort zone, all the while making sure they still felt comfortable at the end of the day. The contestants have to be comfortable at the end of the day in what they are wearing in order to perform at their best. Our job is to take who they are and transform their look into [that of] a recording artiste."
The fashion on this season was definitely a hit and, according to Hirsh, "We shop online, in stores all over town, and we pull directly from designers and showrooms."
The contestants are very involved in their overall looks, as the stylists
always try to incorporate the individual's personality in each outfit. "We absolutely take shopping cues based on the contestants' personalities. Once we got to the live shows, we knew what made them tick. We know what silhouettes and colour compliment their shape and skin tone on camera. We also have a good idea of how far each contestant is willing to go fashionwise, and were careful to take them there gradually."
As it relates to Chin's look on the final night in her Jovani Fashions couture dress, we asked Hirsh how she achieved that winning look. According to her, "I had styled Tessanne in a slinky black dress a few weeks prior to the finale and she transformed into a superstar before my eyes! I knew from that moment exactly in what direction to take her." Tessanne's favourite part about dressing up during the season was helping to pick out gold jewellery pieces to compliment her outfit.
And what's next for Hirsh? She's taking a few weeks off, after which she will be gearing up for Season Six of 'The Voice'.
We also managed to track down the man behind all those 'talk of the town' hairstyles that Chin boasted each week she hit the big stage on 'The Voice', and he gave us an inside look into Tessanne's tresses for the 13-week show.
Shawn Finch, celebrity stylist and hairstylist for 'The Voice'
OL: Tessanne has always been versatile with her hair. However, during 'The Voice', we saw you taking Tessanne's tresses far beyond what we envisioned. How did you determine which look would work for her each night?
SF: Each week, I worked with the wardrobe department to determine what hairstyle I thought would work best with Tessanne's outfits. I must say, the more sophisticated I thought a dress was, the more I felt the urge to keep her hair edgy/contemporary, and vice versa. I think the ying-yang philosophy worked the best for Tess.
OL: Was there ever a look you created for Tessanne that you didn't like after seeing it on camera?
SF: There was one particular night we experimented with adding length with extensions to just one side. I watched the dress rehearsal and saw what I would describe as 'Shirley Temple' curls. I can't tell you how much I disliked this look. I went backstage and proceeded to make all that long curly hair into flat-pin curls and had three minutes to make this new look happen. I was then satisfied with the new look, and that went on camera. Weeks later, I was at a party and a well-known hairstylist came up to me and said, "I loved what you did to Tessanne's hair when she had pin curls on one side. That was my favourite look on her all season!" And I thought, "If you only knew!"
OL: What was your advice to Tessanne?
SF: My hair advice to Tessanne was to keep her hair most often high on top and tight on the sides, as that seemed to frame her face shape the best on TV.
And on the final night? "I wanted Tessanne's hair to be more dishevelled and edgy in the finale so I cut her hair and added a lot of texturiser and made it shorter. I decided to dry her hair without using a brush, and used my fingers to lift the hair into a modified textured mohawk style. I used Finch & Green's 'Hold Me' hairspray to hold the hair high and add shine. I then added glitter spray in silver to add more sparkle. I also added indivi-dual rhinestones to the two side lines of the faux hawk, to add even more shine and drama. We glued rhinestones into the hair with eyelash glue.
OL: What in your opinion is the best-kept secret in hair care that works well with all hair types?
SF: The best-kept secret in hair care is the 'Finch & Green' hair-care system. In particular, it's 'Shamditioner'! It works by not overly drying the hair and yet cleaning it gently. After the first use with Tessanne, her hair went from very dry and brittle to smooth with lots of volume.
We know that Tessanne is a beautiful girl, but her beauty was enhanced by make-up artiste on 'The Voice', Darcy Gilmore, who we also caught up with.
OL: Tessanne loves her bright matte lips, but we've seen her come down from that in a subtle way. How did you manage to get her out of her comfort zone to accept something lighter but just as fabulous?
DG: We LOVE Tessane's bright matte lips! I love it when you can brand your image and then a lip colour or a certain make-up style can be your look. For example, 'Rihanna look' or what Scott Barnes did to create 'JLo glow' look. Certainly, the fact that I had Thea Samuels, my department's make-up artist, working one on one with Tess, so often helps. After a while, the time in the chair becomes collaborative and then it becomes even more fun to try new things on the artiste. We suggest, discuss, and go over each look before it's applied. Then we even sometimes change directions as we go or see it finished.
OL:What was your day to day like getting the contestants of 'The Voice' ready?
DG: The day actually begins Tuesday night after the results show the week before. Everything is considered after song selection. Then, once Costume Designer Erin Hirsh translates the producer's input, I pull make-up images and makeup supplies then assign the look to a make-up artist to create. We often have seven to 10 make-up artists working a day on the show, and the day is quite choreographed. After I revise the looks in person and we watch rehearsals, we know exactly what worked and what didn't . Then I final-edit the look and make changes if needed.
OL: What was the 'it' product that you used on every 'Voice' contestant? What's your advice to aspiring MUAs who want to make it big?
DG: My 'it' product that never leaves my set bag is Make-up Forever Duo Mat powder palette. You could literally do almost an entire make-up with these powders with coverage, highlight, cover, contour, eye shade, etc.