FX’s Pose went out with a bang, and enough praise cannot be showered upon the hair, makeup, and costume departments. All three groups of artists created such cohesive designs that the cast has never looked better as the series drew to a close. Makeup designer Sherri Berman Laurence wanted to make sure these characters got the endings they deserved, and she managed the impossible: she made Indya Moore look even more stunning than we’ve ever seen her.
Every time Pose flashes forward at the top of a new season, we have a new era of makeup to look forward to. Just like the characters, makeup and fashion take huge leaps and Berman Laurence noted the evolution.
“We started in the 80s and we were into the neons and the iconic 80s looks. It started shifting but the average person tends to lag and stay in trends. Between seasons one and two, the characters have evolved but by 1994 we thought everyone was into those looks. There’s not that vast of a difference but we did tend to go for taupes and spiced lip liners and darker lip liners with lighter lip in the middle. Viva Glam came out then and I didn’t go anywhere without that. There was also pastel lavenders and pinks and blues. We played a little with both. Angel was always so beautiful anyway. What can you do? Between Indya Moore and Dominique Jackson, I was so lucky.”
One of the best additions to the cast was Jeremy Pope’s Christopher, the boyfriend of Mj Rodriguez’s Blanca. This is the first time that Blanca gets a successful relationship on the show, and Berman Laurence wanted to incorporate some romanticism into Blanca’s makeup. Blanca can now consider how much she wants to make herself up for the special man in her life. Or she can do it more for herself.
“Even now, Blanca was the one who had an everyday look. Ever since the beginning of this show, it started to be a challenge to not do the same look twice. Which is very, very hard. With Blanca, she had her daytime look and this season it was more of a blendable, ethereal, natural but glowy look instead of a mousy brown, sort of off look. We wanted her to glow more since she was in such a different place. When she would go out, we would bump that up. When they were in the balls, Elektra or Angel would help her do her makeup and it was a free for all. She became very natural with Christopher like in the scene when they wake up in bed together. She is the one that kind of flipped around.”
Angel and Papi’s wedding is a showstopper. Indya Moore’s makeup absolutely glows, and she looks the most stunning she has ever looked. There’s an openness to her face that even suggests that she is willing to receive Papi as the man she is welcoming to make her life better. Not only was Berman Laurence anxious to beat the face of Moore, Rodriguez, and Jackson, but she recognized what the episode meant to every trans woman on set.
“I could not wait to do her makeup for that episode. Honestly, in real life, I was thinking about all of these women in this scene who felt exactly like what the scene was. This was their moment in real life too. It’s a little more common now than when we are shooting, but it’s still a moment to be their beautiful self. For Angel, I cannot even tell you how much makeup I had brought in. We didn’t get to test it and I’ve been doing Indya for so long that I know her face so well. It was a lot of pressure. How do you go above the beauty that there already is. You’re doing makeup at four o’clock in the morning and to bump that up another level for a wedding was a challenge. I must have used six different palettes on her eyes alone. The glowing was very important because I wanted her to look dewy. I used Nostra Beauty in conjunction with Fenty highlights because I wanted a lot of pink of her. There were probably four different highlights on her.”
One of the saddest storylines throughout this final season was the death of Cubby. I honestly didn’t recognize him when he was in the hospital–his face was unrecognizable. Every time we’ve seen him strut at the balls, he has a youthful glow to his adorable face. AIDS has ravaged him beyond recognition, and Berman Laurence skillfully knew how to effectively execute the makeup design.
“It’s a fine line. You want to show the scariness of what that looked like but you also don’t want to go too over the top. I needed to show such a difference in this person. We built prosthetics to cover his eyebrows to give a look where his eyes were sunken in and accentuated the jawline. He had contacts in and special made teeth to show the protrusion a little more. I worked on The Normal Heart, so I know almost every level of a person with AIDS possible. With Cubby they wanted him to look on death’s door but when you do that for someone it’s hard to see them through all of that. It was heartbreaking when I saw him.”
The final episodes of the series weigh heavily on us because of Pray Tell. Berman Laurence had multiple sets of contacts for Pray’s struggle with his eyesight, but she also had to convincingly apply makeup to show how the cocktail aided in Pray’s recovery. Seeing that transformation is so important to the legacy of the show, because Pose has always shown the reality of the AIDS crisis even on the strongest members of the community.
“In the finale, the AIDS part alone, Troy looks very ill and then he becomes so beautiful with the cocktail. And then it happens with Pray Tell. He was supposed to look so sick but we didn’t do prosthetics on him. I had to make him as gaunt and sickly as possible and we had four different levels of contacts for him between episodes six and seven depending on what the scene was. Taking him from that and then making him shiny and glow-y, I’d highlight his face more. The color palette in the ball scene is so great because Blanca is very magenta and Pray is very red. We had to do so many makeup tests because of the rain. I had to do most of his makeup for the vanity scene before they get on the floor and then I had to translate that into waterproof makeup which is an entirely different technique.”
Pose is streaming now on Hulu.