The one Instagram account we couldn’t get enough of during lockdown

A closer look at Sarah Laidlaw's stunning editorial images.

While almost everybody was in lockdown to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, people found numerous ways to keep themselves – and their social media followers including the team at esprit – entertained. Michelle Ruzzene caught up with Sarah Laidlaw, the hair director for Laud Magazine and the hair and makeup director for Priceline, to find out how she created her stunning editorial images shared on her Instagram without access to a model, photographer or stylist while in isolation.

HOW DID YOU COPE DURING LOCKDOWN?

“For the first five weeks I was unpacking boxes after moving house, gardening, cooking and just relaxing. Being in isolation is all for the greater good, so I have absolutely nothing to complain about. I remember at the very beginning of it all, someone wrote somewhere: ‘You’re upset about having to stay home? Anne Frank lived in a cupboard for two years. Get over yourself.’ It’s so true. We’re so lucky. We have food, internet and phones – we’re just fine! My favourite meme from this period of time: ‘What a glorious time to be childless’. Having no children definitely helped with my level of coping.”

TELL US ABOUT YOUR EDITORIAL LOOKS?

“At around the 40 day mark, I just really missed being creative. My favourite part of my job is the high fashion editorial images – the kind of looks that are pretty much over the top and largely unwearable in real life. Without access to a model, photographer or stylist it just wasn’t an outlet that was going to happen in the usual way. I was lying awake all night with ideas bouncing around in my head, so I just started by doing one look on myself and thought it would be fun to document it. I honestly didn’t think it would work.”

WHAT IS THE PROCESS BEHIND CREATING THESE STUNNING LOOKS?

“The process is kind of random. I start with a dress and build the look from there – hair, makeup, accessories. It takes a while as I’m only using things I already have at home to make it more challenging. Sometimes the original idea goes out the window if I don’t have enough bits and pieces to make it work. I’ve loved building the headpieces out of random things. It’s been a really good creative beauty challenge to turn myself into another person. I’m using a few theatre and drag techniques to reshape my face so I hopefully look unrecognisable. It’s turned out to be a bit of an ongoing creative expression project and has absolutely kept me smiling and sane.”

WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF  YOUR LATEST PROJECT?         

“It’s been so good creating for no reason other than fun. There is no client, no art director and no time or budget restrictions. I can decide to do a look if I feel like it – or lie on the couch all day if I don’t feel like it. I’m loving being able to use the skills I usually use on set on myself, it really shows how much hair, makeup and good lighting can do. I can guarantee that my face does NOT look like that in real life. The other lovely and very rewarding outcome of it is all the beautiful messages I’m getting on Instagram – everything from mums at home saying that it’s the one thing they’re getting joy from, to hair and makeup artists saying that they look forward to seeing the next look because it’s keeping them feeling positive and inspired. It’s been a wonderful and unexpected wave of love coming through.”

This article was published in the spring issue of esprit.

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