Credit: Johnny Milano, Yeong-Ung Yang

With strokes of an eyebrow pencil and some dabs with a sponge, students from the New York Institute of Beauty prepare models for shows during Fashion Week in Manhattan.

Members of the Make Up Team from the Islandia-based school travel into the city — and around Long Island to help at charity events — building their portfolios and gaining experience as they polish their models’ looks.

“It’s a lot of practice, doing the shows, and we make great contacts,” said Erin Bochan, 34, of Holbrook, as she worked on a recent Sunday on models walking in the Small Boutique Fashion Week showcase in midtown Manhattan.

Three shows spread across the day offered almost 30 designers a chance to get their new creations in front of buyers, and called for a multitude of makeup artists and hairstylists. That’s where the beauty institute steps in.

Makeup artists from the school, along with hairstylists from its sister institution, the Long Island Beauty School, which has locations in Hauppauge and Hempstead, arrive at the venue equipped to get models ready for the runway. Team members tote all the makeup and hair supplies, brushes and curling irons they need for the event, fashioning the “look” for a show based on the designer’s specification — natural, glam, high-fashion or otherwise.

New York Institute of Beauty founder Linda Giardinello, 50, of Lake Ronkonkoma, works to get the Make Up Team gigs so the students get experience and exposure, along with clips for their “look book” portfolios. Giardinello, a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, founded her school in 1998 and has worked hard to give students practical experience, along with classroom work.

Her group offers everything from makeup and hair styling to a full behind-the-scenes staging service. Students learn by doing as Giardinello and several team leaders supervise. Giardinello compensates the team leaders, but the students do it to establish contacts, gain experience and build their portfolios.

At the show, Bochan worked across the table from fellow student Mary Angela Filippone, 21, of Patchogue, who aspires to do makeup in the movie or television industry. Filippone expects to graduate in April from the beauty institute’s 600-hour aesthetics course. She was a MAC Cosmetics makeup artist before enrolling last August in the aesthetics course, and has worked about six Fashion Week shows.

“You’re always getting thrown a curveball, and I love that,” she said. “You have to be able to roll with it, especially at these shows.”

The number of models the team members work on varies by show, but they come prepared. Filippone carries a clip-on light for close work on her clients, which turned out to be a great help at one venue when team members were working in a poorly lit basement. Settings for the shows vary — the team can have great lighting and lots of room to spread out, or tight quarters and inadequate lighting.

Once their work is done, the students take a break to attend the shows and watch the models walk. Other shows the team has worked on this winter include the DYNE show for Men’s Fashion Week and the Fashion Avenue News and the Runway on Fire shows. They are already booked to work March 25-April 1 during Brooklyn Fashion Week.

“I’m proud of the team and how professional they are,” Giardinello said. “They want to be part of something successful, so they work hard.”

Coming prepared

Another trick of the trade came in handy at one show when a designer’s staffer ran over to ask whether anyone had a stain remover stick.

Carlos Rodriguez, 34, of Douglaston, pulled a Tide to Go stick out of his supply kit and held it out, with the caveat, “I need to get this back, OK?”

Students get a suggested kit list to bring to shows and volunteer charity events such as children’s hospital-sponsored proms or fashion shows at senior centers. Items can range from a sewing kit to safety pins and pasties, Giardinello said.

“You will be surprised what somebody is going to remember you were able to help with,” she said.

Rodriguez, a licensed cosmetology professional who graduated from the institute’s beauty essentials and bridal makeup courses in 2016, helped a repeat customer when a model ran over to him holding a tube of lilac lipstick.

“This is what the designer wants to see on my lips,” said Lola Manolo, 28, of Atlanta, who was in town for two Fashion Week shows. “Can you match it?”

Rodriguez — who works at a spa in Huntington — looked at his supplies and nodded yes, then began to paint Manolo’s lips with shade 9 from his ABH lipstick palette. “He did such a superb job that every person asked me who did my makeup,” Manolo said.

Despite his full-time job, Rodriguez said he enjoys the Fashion Week experience, which he acknowledged can be busy and demanding.

“Going through the experience and the pressure, you learn, and it’s rewarding afterward,” he said. “Getting through a show makes you a stronger artist. You have to keep your cool and get the job done.”

At the Grungy Gentleman fashion show in TriBeCa in early February, Rodriguez applied makeup to Knicks guard Justin Holiday. “We’re not correcting, just enhancing,” he said, explaining the process to Holiday, 27, who was participating in his first Fashion Week show. “Evening out the skin, making it look luminous and mattefying it.”

Holiday, of Ossining, was soaking it all in.

“This brings my New York experience all together,” he said as Rodriguez worked on his face. “I never thought I’d be doing this.”

Holiday and teammate Mindaugas Kuzminskas, 27, of White Plains, walked the runway along with more than 30 other models to preview designer Jace Lipstein’s line of sports and casual wear. Lipstein also is collaborating with Madison Square Garden on a line of sports clothing.

Lipstein, 31, has done shows with the New York Institute of Beauty for three years.

“I wouldn’t work with anyone else,” he said. “They come with a full team that’s ready to work, and they roll up their sleeves and get to it. They take direction beautifully. I like how fluid and thorough they are.”

Importance of organization

Course work at the beauty institute can be completed within five months to a year, depending upon the program and whether students attend classes full time or part time, Giardinello said. About 200 students a year graduate from the school, which also is a partner school of the well-regarded Make-Up Designory, or MUD, makeup line in New York.

“We teach seven of their curriculums and use their makeup exclusively for all of the programs taught at NYIB, including the aesthetics course,” Giardinello said. “It was a big deal for us to have that MUD affiliation. They helped us develop this whole system.”

That affiliation also was a bonus for Rodriguez, who wanted to attend classes part time but still get the Make-Up Designory training.

The institute’s Make Up Team started about five years ago, and really took off about three years ago with the Make-Up Designory’s help, Giardinello said. It began on a small scale and then grew when designers saw the students’ work and learned the institute’s team could help handle staging as well as makeup and hair. Fashion Week shows give former and current students practical experience and the chance to work under pressure and on many different skin types, Giardinello said.

“They learn the importance of moisturizing skin, cleaning their tools, sanitation and being organized,” she said. “If you set up your station right, they learn you will get through the girls faster and you will make more money. Organization skills save time and money. As a pro, that station has to function.”

The beauty school also collaborates with video and photography students at Farmingdale State College, who also gain experience while helping students at the New York Institute of Beauty and Long Island Beauty School build their portfolios.

Two Long Island high schools sent several students into a show for the Make Up Team experience. The students won a beauty institute-sponsored social media contest, getting the most votes for a “look” they posted as part of the contest.

“This is such a great opportunity for the kids,” said Michelle Savickas, 45, of Rocky Point, a teacher at Sachem High School East’s cosmetology program who accompanied four students to the show. “They get a chance to see what working in the industry is like.”

A range of courses

New York Institute of Beauty in Islandia offers beauty industry courses ranging from aesthetics to nail specialty, waxing, microdermabrasion, beauty essentials, airbrush makeup and bridal and high-fashion makeup looks. The school is licensed by the state and its courses prepare students to take New York State license examinations. For more information, call 631-582-4737 or check the school’s website,

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