A makeover often heralds an era of self-reinvention — witness the restorative power of a drastic haircut following a breakup. But other times, a makeover can be a physical manifestation of an inner shift that's already taken place. Case in point: the winners of our CUE makeover contest sponsored by The Shops at Canal Place, who were selected from more than 50 applicants. Each woman had stepped into a new era of her life, with new responsibilities and new priorities. Melissa Parker celebrated the birth of her first son this year. Claudia Ochoa turned 40 and discovered a newfound sense of pride in her appearance. Jinyoung Park, a recent college graduate, moved to New Orleans and entered the professional world. As different as these women are, they were all brave enough to enter the contest, lay bare their motivations and accept the suggestions our talented team had to offer. The power to effect personal change — that's the real beauty of a makeover. — Missy Wilkinson
- Tribal print split-front dress, $138, tortoise resin bangle, $44, faux tortoise earrings, $28, neutral strappy heels, $98, all at White House | Black Market.
I'm 26 years old and my shape hasn't really changed much over the years ... so I still wear clothes from high school. This wouldn't be a big deal, except that I gave birth to my son last year. Now I'm someone's mommy walking around looking like a teenager in size-denial. Please pick me! Save me from the looks I get for looking like a teen mom!" — Melissa Parker
When Melissa Parker arrived at the Paris Parker studio for her makeover, she wore a New Orleans Saints T-shirt, no makeup and her hair pulled up in a curly poof on top of her head. "I basically wake up and brush my teeth and put some lotion on my face," she said. "That's the end of my beauty routine." Between caring for her 5-month-old son and her boyfriend's daughter, she has very little time to devote to her appearance. However, she did have a clear idea of how she wanted to look: classy but sassy.
"I want to be sophisticated and classic — to get back to how I used to look, but in a more adult-type way," she said. "I want a look I can be proud of and that makes my son and his dad proud to walk next to me."
To achieve that, hairstylists Tommy Centanni and Lashawn Revadar gave Parker highlights for "a nice summertime, flirty look" and a layered haircut. "Because her hair was so curly, we didn't really know what it looked like when it was straight," Centanni says. "We took about an inch off, layered it and gave her sweeping bangs to create softness and frame her face."
Makeup artist Amber Henderson applied a bronzed, glowing look. "I used a tinted moisturizer and a bronzer for her blush," she says. "I set her look with powder and used the bronzer where the sun would kiss her: the cheeks, the forehead, the apple of the cheeks and the jawline."
To show off the new curves Parker acquired during pregnancy, we outfitted her in a low-cut, tribal print dress that's an easy, elegant option for a date night or a trip to the playground. Parker was pleased with the results: "I look like a young mommy — but not a very young mommy."
- Navy tank with sheer pattern by Leif Notes, $68 citron skirt with lace overlay by HD in Paris, $88, colorblock necklace, $58, gold leaf earrings, $38, colorblock wedges by Pilcro and the Letterpress, $168, all at Anthropologie.
'Mrs. Ochoa, you have gray hair,' has become the expression I hear most from my students, rather than 'No homework, please.' ... I want to (bring) my students... back to their learning process (so we can all) be in the same boat." — Claudia Ochoa
A Spanish teacher at Warren Easton Charter High School, Claudia Ochoa noticed her students had begun paying more attention to her appearance than their lesson plans. "I love teaching, but when I turned 40, all my gray hair appeared, so my students starting asking, 'How old are you?'" she says. "Basically, that's why I decided to go for this makeover — because I needed a change."
Ochoa, a wife and mother of two, favored clothing in neutral colors and minimal makeup. To update Ochoa's style, hairstylist Lashawn Revadar camouflaged her gray hairs and added highlights around her face. "I went with something to make her look younger," Revadar says. "We added some layers to give it a fun, flirty look."
Because Ochoa usually wears black eyeliner only, makeup artist Amber Henderson gave her a dramatic eye look with heavily pigmented shadow. She also filled in Ochoa's strong brows with pencil. "I wanted her to see she could do something (bold) and it would not be over-the-top," Henderson says.
Stylist Aimee Gowland chose an outfit that follows the school dress code while still being fashion forward. She paired a burnout tank — in navy, a color that's one of Ochoa's go-to shades — with a bright neon knee-length skirt. A statement necklace finished the look, and though Ochoa said she wouldn't normally wear a piece that bold, she received a compliment on it.
"(When I went back to school), my students did notice a change," Ochoa says. "They said I look pretty. They liked it."
- Fuchsia blouse with bow, $78, fuchsia skirt, $48, neon chartreuse skinny belt, $30, neon chartreuse and cubic zirconia bracelet, $68, khaki peep-toe slingbacks, $158, all from Ann Taylor.
I'm a recent college graduate who moved to New Orleans from Portland, Ore. with three pieces of luggage. I'm now a professional at Tulane University and would like to add an awesome career woman outfit to my wardrobe." — Jinyoung Park
A senior program coordinator at Tulane University, Jinyoung Park moved to New Orleans last August with little more than the shirt on her back. She felt she was stuck in a post-college sartorial malaise — not a student, not yet a polished professional — and felt ready for a change that would subtly elevate her look while still being easy to maintain.
"I'm just not that girl that's in the salon every month, keeping up with the hair," Park said. She'd recently cut her long hair short and was looking to grow it back out, so to preserve length while adding a definitive style, Kelly Shields cut it into an angled bob with side-swept bangs. Velcro rolls added volume to the look. "I feel like Diana Ross!" Park said.
Colorist Lashawn Revader Lashawn Revader did a demi color: a non-permanent, all natural color that infuses hair with moisture, shine and color. "It's a gentle, fast, easy process that enhances natural color, and you don't have to keep up with it," Revader says. "It fills in any parts that have gotten sun damage, and the red gives a little hint of color when the sun hits it."
For her makeup, Amber Henderson applied "a complete face": eye pigment, mascara, blush. She stayed monochromatic with the eye shadow, a look she says is very au courant. "The trend is sticking to one color on the eye," Henderson says. " Right now, I see a lot of coral, purple, even blue ... almost the colors we saw in the '80s."
CUE intern Megan Braden-Perry styled Park in a hot summer hues: a fuchsia blouse and matching skirt create a strong vertical line that elongates Park's shorter stature, while a taupe heel adds height and visually lengthens her legs. Neon green accessories punch up the look.
"I look and feel like a celebrity," says Park, a vocalist and pianist who was on her way to a gig following the photo shoot. "Taking the stage, I felt more glamourous than I would have normally would have."
STORE INFORMATIONAll stores are located at The Shops at Canal Place (333 Canal St., 522-9200; www.theshopsatcanalplace.com). Ann Taylor (529-2306; www.anntaylor.com) Anthropologie (592-9972; www.anthropologie.com) Paris Parker Salon & Spa (586-9107; www.parisparker.com) White House | Black Market (299-8044; www.whitehouseblackmarket.com)
ON THE COVERPhotography Romney Caruso (450-8127; www.romneyphotography.com) Model Coco Capdepon Makeup Amber Henderson for Paris Parker Salon and Spa (citywide; www.parisparker.com) Hair Jason Ashford, Tommy Centanni, Lashawn Revader and Kelly Shields for Paris Parker Salon and Spa Styling Megan Braden-Perry, Aimee Gowland and Missy Wilkinson
Special thanks to Carla Adams and the entire team at The Shops at Canal Place for sponsoring the CUE Fashion Makeovers.