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More Stunning Body Painting: The M.A.C. Chinese Dress Exhibit

Body painting, body art or body makeup applied in a trompe l'oeil fashion on a naked or barely clad body never seems to grow tiresome. So, after sharing some of the amazing works by Emma Hack, Veruschka, Guido Daniele, and Temptu Paints with you, here's some beautiful body art of a different flavor.

For the opening of the M.A.C. cosmetic boutique in Shanghai a few years ago, talented make-up artists painted the bodies of models in the traditional 17th century Chinese dress referred to as Qi Pao or Cheong Sam. The event in Shanghai was called The Body Painting Cheong-sam Spectacular. Then the show appeared in February 2006 to simultaneously celebrate the Chinese new Year and kick off Olympus Fashion Week. Following that, it came to the United States to tour various Nordstroms, where it was called Chinese Dress.

Body painting is considered the haute couture of cosmetics. It combines the meticulous artistry of an oil painter with the special expertise of a makeup artist who understands how to paint human skin, said James Gager, the creative director of M.A.C.

The practice dates from ancient Egypt, when henna was the paint of choice, and has been practiced for centuries on clowns, mimes, opera singers and actors. It's now become very popular for the technique to be used in advertisements and magazine editorials and covers (who could forget that Demi Moore Vanity Fair cover? shown below)

above: Body makeup for Demi Moore's Vanity Fair cover by Joanne Gair

"Body painting is like a puzzle you are trying to work out on the human form," said Patrick Eichler, a senior makeup artist at MAC who led the team creating the peony qi pao, also known as a cheon gsam, on Ms. Ge. They practiced on her last week in a dress rehearsal for a body painting exhibition scheduled for tonight, marking the opening of New York Fashion Week. She is to be repainted today and appear with 11 other elaborately painted models in the show called "MAC Chinese Dress."

A few years later, the M.A.C. Cosmetics Chinese Dress Exhibition was shown at Nordstrom in San Francisco’s Westfield Shopping Centre. The body painting included the application of over 10,000 crystals as well. It was such a hit, the exhibition then toured various Nordstrom's in the US.

I have images from the exhibitions in both Shanghai and the US, so you will notice that in some instances of the same design, the models vary as does the body makeup slightly.

Design: Sue Wong; Lead Makeup Artist: Demia Keppel; Makeup Artists: Pam Jacobsen, Christine Biggers, MEgan Sutherland, Elisa Nunez, Sylvia Lee, Hallie Jacinto; Headdress: Stephen Jones

Design:Nadine Luke; Lead Makeup Artists: Glenn Moala, Jenn Karsten; Makeup Artists: Yvette Soares, Ignacio Maciel, Jack Caton, Rachel Ervin; Headdress: Stephen Jones
Design:Nadine Luke; Lead Makeup Artist: Christine Salopek; Makeup Artists: Rosana Vares, Jorge Monroy, Noelle Barce; Headdress: Stephen Jones

Design:Nadine Luke; Lead Makeup Artist: Victor Cembellin; Makeup Artists: Thang Dao, Shauna Pierce, Jennifer Ledo; Headdress: Stephen Jones

Design:Nadine Luke; Lead Makeup Artist: John Stapleton; Makeup Artists: Janilea Mora, Selena Curry; Headdress: Stephen Jones

Design:Nadine Luke; Lead Makeup Artist: Louise Zizzo; Makeup Artists: Missy Olson, Kelly McCabe, Stacy Maki; Headdress: Stephen Jones

Design: Nadine Luke; Lead Makeup Artist: Amna Pervez; Makeup Artists: Casey Wallin, Maranda James; Headdress: Stephen Jones

Design: Juicy Couture; Lead Makeup Artist: Kris Jorgensen; Makeup Artists: Alecia Littledale, Kimmee Park, Miriam Carvalho, Daniel Belena

Design: Nadine Luke; Lead Makeup Artist: Bryan Campbell; Makeup Artists: Manuel “Monroe” Casado, Melinda Cazarez, Beck Morgan, Nick Fancolli; Headdress: Stephen Jones

Design: Vivienne Tam; Lead Makeup Artist: China-li Nystrom; Makeup Artists: Melissa Kerekes, Sarah Pugh, Jeff Jarwin, Chase Alvarez, Caline Raab; Headdress: Stephen Jones

Here are some great "behind the scenes" shots of the MAC exhibit to kick off Fashion Week:

above: the talented Nadine Luke who served as the designer on most of the painted dresses in the exhibition.

M-A-C Cosmetics is not the only one to paint traditional Chinese dress on naked bodies, other artists have done the same. Here are a few examples for you:

From the Sony Fair 2006 in Times Square, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong:

Thanks to M.A.C. Cosmetics, China Daily and for the images

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