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Columbus Makes Art Presents Annah Davis on Designing for HighBall 2021

Michelle Gibson Michelle Gibson Columbus Makes Art Presents Annah Davis on Designing for HighBall 2021Stylist Annah Davis of Phía Salon creates incredible hair-raising couture designs, seen here during HighBall Halloween. Photo by Varinia Rodriguez.
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On Saturday, Oct. 23 HighBall Halloween 2021will celebrate costumes and creativity as the show moves to the outdoors stage at EXPRESS LIVE! for 2021. Stylist Annah Davis of Phía Salon is back with more incredible hair-raising couture designs for the White Castle Costume Couture Fashion Show. Annah sat down to talk about hair design inspiration, why she keeps coming back to HighBall Halloween and the upcoming show.

Michelle: You have been part of the Phía Salon team that creates couture hair designs for the Costume Couture Fashion Show since HighBall Halloween’s inception, and part of the makeup team for almost a decade; what do you love about coming back each year?
Annah: It’s so much fun to collaborate with the designers to elevate the art of the whole collection. Whether it’s a large wig with lights and moving parts, a full face of makeup inspired by the work of Van Gogh or Tim Burton or by Disney films, or a clean slick ponytail with classic beauty makeup, our team loves seeing it all come together onstage.

Stylist Annah Davis of Phía Salon creates incredible hair-raising couture designs. Photo by Varinia Rodriguez.

Michelle: How do you use your years of experience as a stylist when working with designers to create hair styles and makeup looks that help tell the stories of their HighBall Halloween couture costumes?
Annah: Being there every year, and leading the Phía team for more than half of them, has made working with designers have such great movement and flow. In the meetings I have with the designers, I suggest wigs or hairpieces we can create ahead of time so they can add embellishments. Sometimes, we recommend simplifying the hair or makeup to emphasize an element of a costume. Because it is a stage show and not an editorial shoot, details are generally bigger and bolder so the audience can see them and how they can connect to the story in the costumes.

Michelle: Where do you find inspiration for couture hair makeup designs?
Annah: A lot of the time, the designers come with a multitude of pictures or sketches and we work from there on hair and makeup inspirations. Sometimes, we scrap everything and collaborate on something new inspired by paintings or buildings or landscapes.

Stylist Annah Davis of Phía Salon creates incredible hair-raising couture designs. Photo by Varinia Rodriguez.

Michelle: What is your process like when creating couture hair and makeup designs?
Annah: With the pre-built items, there are some experiments that happen where we try things out. Sometimes, really unusual steps need to be taken; we’ve baked wigs in the oven, stuffed them with pillow foam and built around chicken wire. Just like the designers with the couture, we start from a place of knowing what we want to create and make it possible, rather than starting from a place of what we think is possible. Once we have an idea of the looks we’ll be creating, our team of stylists and makeup artists (along with a couple of independents) audition to earn placement on the production team as a lead, support, assistant or pre-build.

Michelle: What can viewers expect to see from you and the Phía Salon team at HighBall Halloween 2021?
Annah: Some looks are sleek and sassy, some are elegant yet scary, and some highly structured creations that would have Victorian royalty jealous, but if you want to see it, you’ll have to get tickets now! We’re excited about the new prize that will be awarded to the costume that best integrates hair and makeup in the final look.

Michelle: What’s the best thing about the Columbus art scene right now?
The best thing about the Columbus art scene right now to me is how much of it there is. I started going to Gallery Hop in 1994! I’ve always been lit up by the art of Columbus! From its depth and complexity to its whimsy and lightness, I love feeling like I took a step into the artist’s world and escaped reality or maybe felt a deeper reality in that moment.

HighBall Halloween 2021 will feature hosts Virginia West and NBC4’s Monica Day and Matt Barnes, as well as performances by local band MojoFlo and Virginia West and The West Family, the Out of the Closet Public Costume Contest, and the White Castle Costume Couture Fashion Show. Tickets are available online. For more information, visit highballcolumbus.org.

Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting and advancing the arts and cultural fabric of Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art. Learn more about local artists, organizations, public art and events at ColumbusMakesArt.com.

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