I decided at MM HQ that it is time to pay homage to the greatest makeup artists of all time, the ones that have paved the way for makeup artists like myself, particularly in the past when being a makeup artist wasn’t really a job. They were the real innovators. Before the internet and “co-branding opportunities” and “celebrity makeup artists” and products that have been developed using NASA technology, there were amazing makeup artists who transformed women with simple powders and paints and showed what today we take for granted – that beauty can be mentally and physically transformative.
These are the people who have not only forged a career and a permanent place in the lexicon of fashion, but throughout their working lives have created images that have fed the imaginations of today’s creatives – a shared lexicon and a sort of collective unconscious that every day is referred to on fashion shoots around the world. It is time we honored those who blazed a trail for us to follow.
Witness please, the re-birth of Full Makeup – from the late 70’s to the 80’s every model was re-sculpted with makeup (and not just in earth tones!) Eyes, lips, contoured cheeks – it was all there, in every image, creating a hyper-real Amazonian woman of unparalleled glamour. And at the forefront of this was Serge Lutens.
Born in 1942, in Lille, France, he started as a hairdresser and by 1962 was working for the already hugely prestigious French Vogue. Mr Lutens was the first makeup artist appointed to create Dior cosmetics in the 1960’s – bearing in mind that the brand then became the original powerhouse of luxury cosmetics through the 70’s and 80’s. Not content with just being a makeup artist, he went on to become a very well regarded photographer and film-maker in his own right. He is perhaps best known for his work with the Japanese brand Shiseido – the inspirational and haunting print and TV ads of the 70’s and 80’s really took the brand international. I remember at a very young age being astounded by these ads and the world beyond my own life in rural Australia that they suggested.
But he didn’t stop there – in the 90’s he launched a range of scents that redefined luxury perfumes and that are sold at the best stores across the world – there are now 23 perfumes in all, including the cult classic Ambre Sultan.
In this millennium he has created a new challenge for himself – he has launched a small but perfect range of makeup items that are designed to be the best at what they do – the perfect black kohl, the best mascara, and I think regular MM readers know what a fan I am of the lipstick! It is very expensive, beautifully packaged and a true makeup lovers’ dream – the perfect encapsulation of Serge Lutens’s interpretation of modern beauty. Simple, classic, timeless – always in style.
His influence cannot be overestimated – I know the extraordinary makeup artist Alex Box cites him as one of her makeup inspirations, and seeing his work from the 70’s it looks as fresh today as it did then. Here are two videos for your enjoyment – one of the great master at work, and the other one of his Shiseido commercials from 1973.
Necessaire Beauté de Serge Lutens is at Harvey Nichols London and Barney’s New York in the US.