An exclusive interview with the makeup maestro.
Whenever I interview people I admire, I tend to ramble. A lot. See: my recent conversation with makeup artist Kabuki about Kabuki Magic Collection, his upcoming collabo with M.A.C Cosmetics. During our chat, I was in full-on first-date mode, stumbling over my words and talking over him.
Lucky for me, not only does the New York-based Brit have the patience of a kindergarten teacher, he thoughtfully answered all my questions, even checking in with me if they were “good enough” answers. (They were.)
Kabuki Magic is his first official collection with M.A.C. – even though he's worked on their campaigns and has been using their products backstage at fashion week for ages – and he’s in good company. The iconic makeup brand also enlisted best-of-the-best makeup artists James Kaliardos and Diane Kendal to design their own must-have products as part of the Makeup Art Cosmetics Collection, available online Jan. 19 and in stores January 26.
Kabuki’s roster of lipsticks, shadows and blushes is super playful – think richly pigmented lip colour and vivid eye paints – but also super practical. Here, he talks about his vision and how Kendall Jenner inspired a VIS – very important shade.
Kabuki backstage with Gigi Hadid at Jeremy Scott's Spring/Summer 2016.
What inspired the Kabuki Magic collection? These are products I wanted that didn't exist – either the colours or the formula. Like Fallen Angel Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolour (below, left). It’s a deep berry. I have to do that colour all the time when I’m on a shoot. It’s such a pain because I have to combine three different colours to get something to look the way I want it. So now it’s just a one-step thing. I also wanted a natural matte pink that was like a real lip colour rather than something that looked “lipstick-y.” I was working with Kendall Jenner and I created this colour by mixing [a few] pinky nude shades together. I brought that sample from the shoot to M.A.C and that's how we created Sweet Thing Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolour (below, right). I wanted these products to be very practical—things that people would really need, and not just more stuff.
M.A.C. Cosmetics Fallen Angle Retro Matte Liquid Lip Colour and Sweet Thing Retro Matte Liquid Lip Colour ($25, at maccosmetics.com).
The names of the products are so fun – “Johnny Guitar” and “Sense Of Doubt” (both eyeshadow palettes) and “Ice Follies” (a gloss). How did you come up with them? I made three categories. One was made-up names, the other was Joan Crawford movies and the other was David Bowie references. So I suppose in my subconscious, maybe there are elements of Bowie and Crawford’s careers? Just because I’m a fan so maybe there is something to distil from that into my approach to self-creation.
Do you remember the first time you used a M.A.C product? My first break was in production, [I did makeup for] Sex and the City and then movies afterwards and M.A.C was always very generous in helping with the makeup. Plus, they have real makeup artists working for them and the artists are people I’d be friends with. There is always the feeling of community and sharing tips and, “oh what’s that product?” so it was always like Aladdin’s cave of beauty items.
Let’s talk about spring makeup. Are there any trends you are totally over? I kind of have immediate responses to trends. The ones that I’m over I was never into in the first place. I don't like it when there are a lot of people all doing the same thing. For example, I don't really like when they put that white in the inner corner of their eyes to create a glow. Because we know it’s a trick. I guess I’d rather be challenged and see something new. This surprise is always more exciting than seeing something you’ve seen a million times.
“I use the paints as an eye primer. There is nothing worse than a perfectly blended, precise eye that melts. I wanted these in very bright colours and in white so you could mix them together and created different colours. I tend to use a flat brush to put them on and if I need to blend them out I use like a fluffy brush. But if you’re doing it on yourself, it would be easier to use your finger.” M.A.C. Cosmetics Paints in Cracked Emerald, Holy Holy Overnight Sensation and Win and ($26 each, at maccosmetics.com).
What about "Instagram makeup"? Are you for or against? Mediums create their own style so in a way it’s almost like it works in the medium. I wouldn't say anything bad about it because they’re having fun. It’s like self-publishing. And you can learn from things that are exaggerated. I like going the whole distance [into a look] because it’s easy to pull back and just take an element from that. You can always make something more mild, so to me it’s more interesting to see somebody do all the tricks because it’s more information on one face.
And finally, I’ve always wondered how long it actually takes to make a makeup collection? I think it was about a year and a half! There were a lot of meetings, but they were spaced apart. But it was very enjoyable and I would do it all over again if I could.
Editor's note: We can only hope.
Kabuki created the Precision Brush – in his words “ a really small soft eye shadow brush” – because he found “that a lot of the brushes when they get smaller, they are also firmer so they weren’t good for blending.” M.A.C. Cosmetics Precision Brush ($30, at maccosmetics.com).
Drake and Jennifer Lopez. Image by: Getty
Is DraLo legit? Reply hazy, ask again.
Where's our Magic 8-Ball when we need it? Jennifer Lopez is still refusing to confirm or deny any rumours of her alleged romance with Drake during a press day for her TV show, Shades of Blue.
When an Entertainment Tonight reporter asked her about the romance, the star's publicist cut in and J.Lo walked away. Prior to this awkwardness, she did, however, confirm what everyone already knows. The pair has collaborated on a song that may be on his next album.
Just before she started filming The Promise, Charlotte Le Bon sent an email to her two co-stars. “I wrote to Oscar [Isaac] and Christian [Bale],” recalls Le Bon, miming out the action of typing as she sits in a Toronto hotel lobby. “I just said that I was super-intimidated by them both but I couldn’t wait to start. I promised that when I met them, I’d pretend everything was all right and it was fine, but I just wanted them to know that that feeling was there.” (BTW, Isaac wrote back right away saying he felt the same; Bale never replied.)
We’re catching up with the French-Canadian actress the day after that film’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, and her relief at the romantic epic’s positive reception is obvious. “We had a standing ovation. There were a lot of Armenians in the room, and it was really moving to have them come up to us afterwards with tears in their eyes, thanking us for our work. That’s exactly why I want to do my job.”
In the film, to be released early this year, Le Bon plays Ana, a cosmopolitan Armenian woman who returns home to what is now modern-day Turkey (then the Ottoman Empire) on the eve of the outbreak of the First World War—and the start of the genocide of much of that country’s Armenian population by the Ottoman authorities. (It’s worth noting that Turkey still officially denies this ever occurred.) Ana also finds herself in the middle of a love triangle, torn between an American journalist (Bale) and an Armenian medical student (Isaac).
“I think she really doesn’t know [who to choose],” says Le Bon. “Love is a weird and complex feeling: Sometimes you choose passion; sometimes you choose comfort. I think it’s a modern approach to a love story because although it’s not completely politically correct to say she’s in love with two men, it happens in real life.”
That complicated romantic situation isn’t the only true-to-life parallel the 30-year-old noticed while filming the Terry George-directed epic, which centres much of its action on a group of Armenians (and Ana) trying to escape through the mountains. Two summers ago, Le Bon and her boyfriend were on the Greek island of Lesbos, which, along with being an idyllic vacation spot, is also the site of a large refugee camp filled with migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan fleeing conflict.
“I just remember seeing hundreds and hundreds of people walking in the street in the heat,” recalls Le Bon. “You really don’t know what to do. We bought water bottles and we were trying to give what we could. You’re trying to choose—maybe give to this one because she’s older, this one has a baby. You feel completely helpless.” Fast-forward to shooting The Promise in Spain about a year later: “Seeing those hundreds and hundreds of extras going down the mountain, I was like, ‘Fuck—this is exactly what I saw [in Greece].’ It’s awful to see that 100 years later, nothing’s really changed. Humans are worse than rats! We don’t learn.”
At another point in our conversation, Le Bon complains about her eyes (“They’re too big, especially on a movie screen”), but seeing her use them to persuade, to impart passionate caring, you get a sense of why this Montreal-born performer is already a big deal in her adopt-ed home of France—and why Hollywood has come calling. Le Bon is basically the definition of French-girl cool, down to an endearing overlapping front tooth that seems impossibly chic. (She’s probably pictured beside the word “gamine” in the dictionary.) She started as a model, served briefly as a weather girl on French TV and then got her big acting break in the 2014 biopic Yves Saint Laurent, which was quickly followed by a role in the Golden Globe-nominated The Hundred-Foot Journey and a star turn opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 2015’s The Walk.
And while Le Bon loves acting, she says she feels most like herself when she’s drawing. (And it’s no hobby; she opened her first solo show in Paris this summer.) “The thing with acting is that it goes through so many filters that in the end you can’t control anything, but with art the delivery is so pure because it’s you, it’s just you.”
She says being an actress is work—not so much “what happens between ‘Action’ and ‘Cut’” but what she calls “all this stuff,” gesturing to the elaborately embroidered dress she’s wearing for a day of television interviews, her heavily-made-up face and her carefully coiffed hair. “This is not my favourite thing, you know?” she says. “I wear no makeup in real life, and I wear jeans and sneakers.” Even when it’s for a role, Le Bon finds the beauty routine tiresome. “Sometimes I’m like, ‘Ugh! I just want to do everything without makeup. Can I do that?’ I mean, Christian and Oscar arrived in jeans without makeup. It’s freaking unfair!”
But Le Bon insists she’s not letting down the Canadian side by throwing any tantrums or being difficult. (Although she does half-jokingly threaten to “start a revolution” when it comes to these gender-based double standards.) “The thing people say is that I’m unusually nice,” she says of being unashamedly Canadian. “I’ve been living in France for seven years now, and it’s actually true that we are so nice. Even when I come back now, I’m surprised by how easy and relaxed and cool it is socially. I’m used to the Parisian attitude now, so it’s almost weird!”
Oh, and if you’re wondering how Le Bon eventually fared on-set with those “intimidating” co-stars—well, she and Isaac ended up hanging out all the time (when he wasn’t jetting off to promote Star Wars: The Force Awakens, that is), and she basically became a one-woman fan club for Bale. “I think I laughed at every single one of his jokes for four months,” says Le Bon of her on-set “best pal.” She does note, however, that Bale was very much about doing his own thing. “He’s very present, very professional—but when it’s over, he just disappears like Houdini. Poof!”
Bale even pulled a disappearing act on the last day of filming. When the final shot had wrapped, Le Bon went to find him so she could give him a drawing she’d done for him...and he’d already bailed. (Bale-d?) “I asked everyone where Christian was, and they were like, ‘He’s already on a plane! He’s gone!’ and I was like, ‘Shit!’ But, really, it was fine.”
And then it’s Le Bon’s turn to go, gracefully picking up her skirts as she rises from the table, straight from our chat to a flight bound for Paris.
No, not THAT job. Prince William definitely still plans to be king one day. In fact, he's quitting his day job as an ambulance pilot to focus more on his royal duties.
In a statement today, Kensington Palace revealed that William will end his tenure with the emergency services this summer and plans on moving the family to London from their current base in Norfolk.
It was also announced that Prince George will be starting school in the UK capital in September, as will Charlotte when her time comes.