GFW’s First Makeover Contest Runway Ready, by Michaela Bisienere

Last month, the GFW team got to channel our inner Stacy and Clinton with our first-ever makeover contest.
Our beautiful contest winner is Laura Muriel, a 25-year-old UF alumna who works as community developer for Trendy Entertainment, a Gainesville video game development studio.

 Muriel, who has always preferred a low-maintenance look, said she wanted to do the makeover challenge to boost her confidence and try something different.
“I’m a really big tomboy, and I want to get in touch with my feminine side,” Muriel said.
Already familiar the power of a good old-fashioned makeover — her mother enrolled her in modeling classes when she was younger — Muriel said she had enjoyed the self-confidence that modeling brought out in her.
“I liked modeling because I felt like it wasn’t me,” Muriel said.  “It was this costume I could put on.”
The day of pampering started at Healthy Glow Skin Spa, Muriel’s first spa ever. Esthetician Vicki Fraser and nail technician Doris Conde gave Muriel a signature facial, a brow wax, and a manicure and pedicure.
Though the makeover was Muriel’s first forays into taking risks with fashion and beauty, she said she’s no stranger to spontaneity and the unknown: She said she’s been known to ride speed bikes, skydive and take spur-of-the-moment trips to Costa Rica for the sake of adventure.
“I don’t mind trying new things,” Muriel said. “I like any opportunity to get out of my comfort zone.”
The  next step in her makeover put her spontaneity to the test:  Avant Garde Salon stylist Nicole Collazo cut off almost 10 inches of Muriel’s “mermaid length” that will become her fourth donation to Locks of Love.
Despite being a big step for anyone to take, Collazo said Muriel was totally open to change when it came to hair styling. Collazo gave Muriel lots of bouncy layers to give her hair more body. Muriel’s curls were enhanced by light brown highlights to add dimension and emphasize the cut.
Muriel then headed straight into the makeup chair with make-up artist Kara Winslow. Winslow used matte, neutral shades to give Muriel a natural, fresh-faced look.
“One of my big philosophies is that I want people to look in the mirror and still recognize themselves, but a more enhanced version of themselves,” Winslow said. “I am all about teaching women how to empower themselves through beauty.”
“Empowered” couldn’t begin to describe Muriel’s face when she turned to face the mirror.
“I’ve never seen myself like this,” Muriel said.
To complete the transformation, Winslow styled Muriel in a fabulous head-to-toe look from Pink Narcissus before sending her on her way to a photo shoot for the January issue of Gainesville Today – but not before our GFW director of photography Ashley Crane snapped a few shots of her own on location.
Muriel pranced, posed and primped for the camera like a natural with way more than a few years of modeling classes under her belt.
“It doesn’t even feel like a costume this time,” Muriel said of her makeover. “It feels like we’re bringing ‘me’ out.”
Muriel said she surprised her friends and family by not telling any of them about the makeover ahead of time. The new look was officially debuted that night when she went out with her coworkers. Later, Muriel’s family got to see the transformation.
“My mom was so surprised,” Muriel said. “She was so happy that I got to do this, and she wanted a copy of the magazine right away to save.”
Since the makeover, Muriel said she’s found it easy to keep up with her new look.
“They gave me such a great hairstyle and haircut that it’s no-fuss, and it still looks great,” Muriel said. “Even with keeping my routine kind of the same, I feel better than I did before.”
At the end of the day, everyone involved in the makeover was reminded of exactly what it is about fashion and beauty that keeps us coming back for more.
Beyond what’s trendy and fresh, and beyond how much of our paycheck we just dropped on that last statement purchase, there’s something about allowing ourselves to feel empowered and strong when we take risks and tap into our own personal style — and that’s something we’ve never been able to put a price on.