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Image Is Everything 

The economy's in a slump, and so are a lot of S.F. politicians. At least for the pols, Brow Set seems to be part of the answer.

Wednesday, Aug 14 2002
Few fashionistas will forget the stunning season of fall 2000.

Super-slim hip-huggers, tunics, and sharp-shouldered pantsuits were among the styles that combined rich texture and adornment with clean, spare lines. Colors were solid and dense, with ruby red, dove gray, and deep claret sharing the stage with jet black -- lots and lots of black. Makeup was a millennial-year star, too; plums, reds, and fuchsia defined the fall season's colors, with lips the defining feature.

But it was politics, specifically in San Francisco, that offered the newest of that year's new looks. That fall season could only be described as "independent," "rebellious," and "progressive." Voters elected a brand-new bevy of supervisors, and their combined rakish look promised a fresh type of S.F. politics -- some fashion mavens imagined it promised a whole new type of city.

But by the start of this year, the 2000 crop of S.F. politicos had begun losing cachet; the dot-com backlash that brought them to power had gone the way of lip gloss. In political fashion terms, they might as well have been wearing black-and-ruby hip-hugging jumpsuits. So the makeovers began.

We called in consulting expert Suzanne Chu, 29, long known to the city fashion intelligentsia as the go-to woman for new, exciting looks; she's also known as a turnaround expert.

A San Francisco native and, for years, a senior makeup artist at M*A*C Cosmetics, Chu has advised singers Alicia Keyes and Angie Stone on their "look"; she even recently touched up the makeup of Robin Williams at the Sundance Film Festival.

"I like to basically bring out everyone's inner beauty," Chu says.

If local politicians take her advice, expect to see some real sizzle on the political runway.

Get Serious!

Like anyone seeking a promotion, mayoral candidate Tom Ammiano must take appearance seriously. To hear Chu tell it, the Board of Supervisors president hasn't been doing terribly bad for himself so far; a few subtle touches might take him to the top.

"I'd use Brow Set, something to smooth his eyebrows and give him a more finished look. I'd use some lip conditioner as well. Maybe some Fast Response Eye Cream. It keeps the skin looking moisturized around the eye. The look for this season is neat and healthy; it's about careful grooming and looking polished. Perfect skin is a big fall fashion trend. If you want to be in on that, you can try Moisture Feed, which is an intense moisturizer.

"You don't necessarily need to have short hair, but it's got to be in place.

"He's pretty much there now. But I'd do some minor shaping. He's al- ready drinking lots of water, so that's good."

It's About Look, Stupid!

In his two years on the board, Aaron Peskin has garnered more power than any of his colleagues. He's conducted smoky-room haggling sessions with airport officials; he's the go-to man for city financial issues; and to feather his cap, he recently helped topple Planning Commissioner Hector Chinchilla.

What's the key? It's all about look, Chu says.

"He's definitely in for this season. The bearded look is in for right now, just like Brad Pitt," says Chu -- but there's always room for improvement. "He would benefit from the Brow Set. He would use it on his brow line. Maybe he could use a Studio Moisture Fix to keep his skin moisturized throughout the day, and an eye cream as well, such as a moisturizing eye feed.

"He looks like he has great skin, so as long as he takes care of it, he'll be fine. By keeping the skin moisturized, it reduces fine lines, and keeps him looking younger."

The Supervisor From Mystique

When some of the nuttier board members sidetrack a meeting with a hairsplitting insult match, it's often Sophie Maxwell who scolds them back into line. Despite her schoolmarm aura in chambers, Maxwell is actually one of the city's most charismatic politicians when working a small group; she's witty, excitable, and has a toothy smile that slays. Melding these seemingly contradictory images merely requires a little makeup, Chu says.

"She has beautiful features," Chu says. "I would really emphasize her eyes. I'd go with a smoky eye shadow for fullness on her eyes. I'd keep her lips neutral with a color called Mystique.

"In the position she's in, she can't look too flamboyant; at the same time, she needs to look beautiful. So using earth tones will suit her well, without letting her look like she uses a lot of makeup.

"She can do a dark lip and a light eye. What we want is a sleek, sleek, full color. I'd use lots of Pro Lash mascara, with eyebrow pencils."

Bohemian Rhapsody in Brow Set

Matt Gonzalez entered office two years ago as the board's true bohemian, affiliating himself with the quirky fringe "green" party, adorning his campaign posters with modern art, and speaking slowly, pensively, and well. He remains the board's thinker, sometimes quizzing his ideological opponents at length during hearings to make sure that he accurately apprehends their position, and entertaining reporters' banal questions so thoughtfully it can make them twitch. He's the only supervisor with a legitimate sense of humor. And his occasional legislative coups demonstrate the promise of this professorial, Woodrow Wilson approach. He just made headlines, for instance, with a measure to keep corporations from renaming Candlestick.

But if Matt Gonzalez wants to rise to the next level, his look's got to improve, Chu says. The man's a fashion mess.

"Fashionably speaking, I think if he would comb his hair a bit, to stop covering his face, and to really show his pronounced features, that would help a lot," Chu advises. "Definitely with him I'd groom his brows. He has very prominent features, so with him, I'd always keep a visible face. I think he would be better with a clean-cut look. He has really high cheekbones, so keeping the hair away from his face would really emphasize his look."

About The Author

Matt Smith


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