Unsurprisingly, Afterpay Australian Fashion Week is the busiest period of the year for the fashion industry. And after a solid stretch of time where the runway remained empty, there’s been a feeling of gratitude amongst designers, creatives and backstage teams as they return to IRL showings at AAFW.
Models were also thankful for the world’s first in-person fashion week since the pandemic. Carol Zhu, an in-demand face who has walked for the likes of Kenzo, was booked for a big week of early call-times and long days. Here she chats to GRAZIA about how she survives AAFW and the beauty products she relies on throughout the hectic week.
GRAZIA: What’s your favourite thing about AAFW?
Carol Zhu: I thrive in the fast-paced nature of a bustling environment, so I love that there is so much hype and excitement at fashion week, as well as the energy and creativity that comes from the designers and teams behind each show. Seeing them create these amazing pieces and then getting to wear them and feel the crowd’s reaction is amazing.
GRAZIA: Talk us through a day in your life during AAFW.
CZ: Fashion Week is always an incredibly busy time, but I absolutely love it! Day one of this year’s AAFW started with a 3.30am call time for hair and makeup before the 9am Jordan Dalah show. The hair and make-up for this show was epic and it took a while to come together. I then grabbed a quick snack and a coffee before heading offsite for Bondi Born – the Sydney Opera House was the backdrop for this show and the weather was perfect. I was obsessed with my red lip and slicked back hair for this show.
Usually, if I need to recharge between shows I pop on some music for a bit – I love to listen to classical, it always helps me relax. I only had two shows the first day, so I then had a quick check in with my agent to confirm my schedule for the following day then off to recharge, eat a healthy dinner and get some sleep – sleep is key to surviving fashion week!
GRAZIA: With such a hectic pace, what beauty essentials do you always have on hand?
CZ: A good quality sunscreen, lip balm and lots of water are really my only essentials during the week. The makeup artists work their magic for every show, so I like to just make sure my face is protected from the sun when travelling between shows, that my lips are hydrated – and I am hydrated.
Other than that, I tend to focus more on beauty prep before fashion week to make sure my hair, skin and nails are in good condition. In the weeks leading up to AAFW, I always make sure I’ve trimmed my hair, and buffed and polished my nails. I also love collagen powders for keeping my hair and nails strong and shiny. For my skin, exfoliating my body is an absolute must. Australian Fashion Week always takes place in May or June, so I really rely on body scrubs and moisturisers to keep my skin smooth and hydrated.
My absolute favourite is BEAN BODY’s You Glow Girl Shimmer Scrub, which launches later this month. It’s made with a bunch of natural ingredients like mica, jojoba, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, coffee and sweet almond oil, and it just leaves my skin feeling and looking incredible. The mica (shimmery bits) in the scrub also leave the most beautiful and subtle shimmer on my skin. It’s basically glowy skin in a packet!
GRAZIA: Often there are fashion week after-parties to attend once you’re done for the day. What’s your go-to beauty look that you can pull together quickly?
CZ: I adore a soft smoky wing! It took me a while, but I’ve mastered the art of doing my own winged liner, so it’s always my go-to. I either use a felt tip liner or will sometimes use a sharp angled brush and eyeshadow to create a softer, more blurred look. I’m also all about a dewy base. Charlotte Tilbury’s Light Wonder Foundation has been in my makeup bag for years – I’m obsessed!
GRAZIA: What’s the best beauty tip you’ve picked up from being backstage at the shows?
CZ: You learn so much from all the talented people working at the shows. I think when it comes to beauty (aside from learning to nail a winged eye) the biggest tip is to remove your makeup as soon as you can after a show and come backstage with fresh skin to give the makeup artists the best base possible base to work with.