In the chilly basement of a historic building in London’s Covent Garden, a team of stylists, makeup artists and models is busily getting ready for Luella Bartley’s
fall 2009 fashion show. It’s barely 8 a.m., but it’s clear from the perfectly steamed racks of clothing, the tidy rows of shoeboxes and the fashionistas filing past that the action has been going on for hours. In the midst of it all, Gucci Westman, global artistic director for Revlon, is applying a
bright-red lip colour to a sleepy-faced model. Westman’s style is New York casual: no makeup, tousled hair, baggy jeans and a navy pullover (which almost camouflages her growing baby bump).
“We’re creating characters — individuals with personal style,” explains Westman, who, along with Bartley and hairstylist Guido, decided that each of the 28 models should get her own hair-and-makeup look, riffing on English-eccentric punk, schoolgirl and military influences. “These are cool girls. They’re young, fresh and girlie. Some are tough; some are sweet. This show is about optimism, and the makeup and hair shouldn’t be too serious.”
Westman is one of a growing number of
makeup artists who are consulting with cosmetics companies after making names for themselves working in the fashion and movie industries. These pros understand makeup: They get what works and what doesn’t. They also have insight into what is missing in the marketplace. Westman says that for her, Revlon is a perfect fit. “There are so many things I want to do,” she says. “This is a brand that has so much history, and it’s known for its colour authority. There is so much potential.”
Since its inception in 1932, Revlon has been an innovator, both technologically and artistically. It developed a new type of nail enamel that used pigments instead of dyes; eventually, a collection of matching lipsticks was added to the successful manicure line. It also hired star photographers like Richard Avedon and created trendsetting campaigns that featured products with clever names like “Paint the Town Pink,” “Cherries in the Snow” and the iconic “Fire and Ice.”
Westman says that she’s excited about developing new products: She is dreaming of an all-natural (green) collection and looking forward to the challenge of creating quality products that are widely available and affordable. In the meantime, she’s testing out the recently launched Matte collection. Backstage at Luella, the makeup stations are covered with multicoloured eyeshadows, lipsticks and pencils from the collection. “The textures are really cool and the pigment levels are really dense, so what you see is what you get,” says Westman. “It’s makeup that a makeup artist would use.”
Beauty: It’s in the genes
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