The O/Make-A-Wish Mother-Daughter Makeovers
Denise Clark, 47
Destanee's mother, Denise, has arrived at the studio in a somber mood ("We aren't out of the woods yet," she says) but lightens up as the team spoils her. "This is the most relaxed I've been in 23 years—that's how old my oldest is," she says as she gets advice from brow guru Eliza Petrescu, and a platinum manicure. When Mom comes out in a black Empire-waist IGIGI dress ($280), draped in diamonds ("Ooh, that jewelry! I feel like a movie star!"), her daughter does a little hip wiggle of approval. "Everything just came together," says Destanee. "The hair, the makeup, the dress, the shoes. It was so exciting to see myself this way for the first time."
Go behind the scenes of the shoot with Gayle
Cathy Austin, 48
Her mother, Cathy, a childcare provider and preschool teacher in Citrus Heights, California, has never paid much attention to her looks—she wears no makeup and admits she hasn't changed her hairstyle since high school. She's transformed with a new chic, easy shag ("I think she dropped ten years," Hershberger says). "I love your hair!" Nicole tells her mom, who looks stunning in a floaty black Tadashi gown ($388). "But can you style it on your own?" "No, you're going to do it," Cathy says, and they both laugh.
Maureen Kornowa, 46
"Since the diagnosis, all this—the makeup and primping—has become so unimportant," says her mother, Maureen, executive director of a local charity in Buford, Georgia. As her own makeover begins, Maureen admits, "You do feel better taking care of others when you take care of yourself." Once her beauty renewal is complete—soft, dewy-looking makeup; a sexy layered cut from stylist Oscar Blandi—Maureen makes a showstopping entrance in a beaded Naeem Khan poncho dress. "The fun part is that I'd never have picked this off the rack," she says. "I feel like a million bucks—not bad for a 46-year-old mama!"
"This is the first time they're getting their inner girl back," says stylist Mary Alice Stephenson.
Cheryl Hudgins, 44
"Halie's cancer is rare, and it tends to recur," explains Cheryl, who teaches at the same Pittsburgh area high school that her daughter attends. "So we have to keep monitoring...and praying." Although Cheryl says she isn't that appearance-conscious, she adapts fast, encouraged by our resident experts ("I could get used to this! I should wear heels more often.... I could start wearing lipstick, too"). When Halie sees her mom appear in a silvery low-cut David's Bridal dress ($208), she says, "Wow! You look gorgeous." "Even the girlfriends?" asks Cheryl, gesturing to her cleavage. Halie: "They're big, but yeah! Show the girlfriends."
Backstage Pass: See what went into the gorgeous photos on these pages, plus go behind the scenes of the shoot with Gayle
Special thanks to the amazing people and their teams who contributed to this story