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.

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.

The Turnaround Expert: Suzanne Chu.
Brandon Fernandez
The Turnaround Expert: Suzanne Chu.
The Turnaround Expert: Suzanne Chu.
Brandon Fernandez
The Turnaround Expert: Suzanne Chu.
The Turnaround Expert: Suzanne Chu.
Brandon Fernandez
The Turnaround Expert: Suzanne Chu.
Ammiano.
Ammiano.
Peskin.
Peskin.
Peskin.
Peskin.
Maxwell.
Maxwell.
Gonzalez.
Gonzalez.
Leno.
Leno.
Brown.
Brown.
Newsom.
Newsom.
Newsom.
Newsom.
Newsom.
Newsom.
Daly.
Daly.
Sandoval.
Sandoval.
Hall.
Hall.
Chu on Gonzalez: "Definitely with him I'd groom his 
brows."
Brandon Fernandez
Chu on Gonzalez: "Definitely with him I'd groom his brows."

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 conditioneras 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."

Don't Go Changin' ... Well, Maybe a Little Bit

Ammiano wants to change jobs, Mark Leno just did; the demands on both men's beauty regimens are identical. Whether aspiring to a promotion or trying to succeed in a recently earned one, appearance sells the man. The methodical, evenhanded Leno has successfully projected a clean-cut image so far, Chu says. With his new job in the California Assembly, he'll need to take this look up the ladder one more rung.

"He should go for the shorter haircut to be a little slicker," she says. "A shorter haircut might give him a new image with the new position. And taming his eyebrows with Brow Set would be ideal. With him, I'd focus on the skin care as well. He's going to be in the public eye a lot more, so he'll want to be doing a lot of moisturizingaround the eyes and everywhere else."

div class="tochead">Tone It Down!

In the annals of California politics, no statesman has shone, politically or visually, like San Francisco's Willie Brown. But with the Board of Supervisors trying to undercut his power at every turn, the glow is fading. The most recent slap: Supervisors rejected all Brown's appointments to the city Planning Commission. Beauty makeovers should complement a look, not exaggerate, Chu says. Perhaps it's time for Da Mayor to tone it down.

Literally.

"He should use Studio Finish Matte," Chu says, recommending a lightweight foundation that supplies moderate coverage with a natural appearance. Ideal for politicians needing to tone it down a little, Studio Finish Matte adds a sheer, no-shine texture in one smooth layer, and can be used on bare or made-up skin. "I'd also use Brow Set and some lip conditioner. He has nice, full lips, so I'd bring those out. Also, he should wear sunscreen so he doesn't get age spots."

He's Got It Goin' On!

For no ascertainable reason whatsoever, there are a growing number of people in San Francisco who believe Gavin Newsom ought to be the city's next mayor. A board veteran, he boasts few legislative accomplishments that don't, in some way, relate to his concerns as a property-owning restaurateur. Otherwise, he seems drawn to issues that welcome demagoguery: He's recently become a champion of the right of dog owners to let their pets roam loose, and has moved on from a campaign to seize shopping carts from the homeless to an initiative that would take away their cash assistance from the government. Newsom's no great orator; his claims to political charisma have mostly to do with a willingness to curse while speaking off the record.

In other words: Gavin Newsom has it goin' on.

"I think he's doing all right. He's got a clean-cut look to him. He looks very polished," says Chu.

Chu believes Newsom is so polished he might even wish to soften up a bit to better suit the new populism he's been trying to play up lately.

"Changing his hair: That would really make him look softer. He really should do something, though; and maybe he just needs a softer texture to the hair. Now it seems to be a wet, gelled look. Something not as hard would suit him. He might also use some moisturizing eye cream," Chu notes. "His features would soften if he were more moisturized."

Hey There, Bad Boy!

After a splashy start two years ago as the simple supervisor who always got into trouble yet had his heart in the right place, Chris Daly has entered the middle of 2002 as the simple one who always gets into trouble yet whom nobody pays attention to anymore.

Chu says Daly shouldn't sweat the slump. It's perfectly normal for a public figure's image to ebb and flow; what's important is to continue refining beauty fundamentals that have worked in the past. The public will come around.

"If he's already considered a bad boy, I'd probably go with that. He has a different look to him, and whether it's bad or good, I'd probably go with it. It's like PR -- whether bad or good, you should go with what's different," Chu says. "In order to stick with his look, he might use some moisturizer to bring out his lips, and to bring out his other features. I think I'd just polish his current look, maybe with some Brow Set."

Wintergreen Shaving Cream + Caffeine Powder x Gerardo Sandoval = Brad Pitt???!

Gerardo Sandoval is an earnest city father with laudable legislative accomplishments to his name. His successful campaign to allow Mexican immigrants to use consular IDs when dealing with the city has become a national model. But Sandoval receives scant public attention despite his solid, journeyman job performance.

Chu knows why.

"Maybe he should try a haircut change to project a serious image. People would take him more seriously. His hair now looks too look soft and wavy. Again, if you want to be taken more seriously, you've got to go for the polish. He might want to try to look a little bit more like Brad Pitt. Pitt has a clean-cut look, like most Hollywood stars," Chu notes, adding an important proviso. Sandoval needs to do a better job of shaving. "He should be using shaving cream with wintergreento get a nice, close shave. I'd definitely use some eye creamto de-puff the eyes. It has caffeine powderin it that takes the swelling down."

Let's Stiffen It!

Oddly, Tony Hall is at once the city's most unusual supervisor, and the most conservative. Hall was the only man to vote against turning San Francisco into a marijuana sanctuary. He's focused significant legislative energy on the issues of golf and horseback riding. Hall drives to work in a solid-white mail-delivery Jeep. And he's a wedding singer on the side.

Chu says Hall's quirky showman's instincts could guide him to the top -- if they were accompanied with the right beauty products.

"If he's singing all the time, his lips will get chapped, so he needs some moisturizer there. And to give him some color while he's performing, particularly when maybe he's feeling a little sallow, he should just dust on some of that Bronzing Powder we have. I would use Oil Control Lotionand Blotting Powder-- that's to control the shine during photography. I'd probably put some gelin his hair to give him that Hollywood look," Chu says before pausing to reconsider. "Hmm. Maybe not gel, but maybe use a little bit of hair productto stiffen it."

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