When your first job was a Face cover with Ray Petri, legendary creator of the Buffalo style, and you’re only 16 and you’ve never done a makeup job before, well where do you go from there? That’s easy, by the age of 18 you’ve racked up your first British Vogue cover and shows for John Galliano and Jasper Conran (and in those days, there were no assistants – just 15 models needing makeup, and you!) Then you’re doing Kate Moss for the iconic Calvin Klein Obsession ads, after moving to New York for the birth of grunge. You stay there for eight years, working for every major publication, fashion house and photographer, including Mario Testino, Mario Sorrenti, Bruce Weber, Steven Meisel, Patrick Demarchalier and Helmut Newton.
At the same time you start working with the world’s biggest celebrities, preparing them for red-carpet events and magazine features, including Salma Hayek, Penelope Cruz and Nicole Kidman. Moving back to London you become the new consultant to Chanel and combine your red carpet work with Kylie Minogue, Thandie Newton, Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller and Gwyneth Paltrow with major campaigns for Chanel and continuing to shoot for British, French and Italian Vogue.
Sound like a crazy dream? Well if you’re Kay Montano, that’s your life. Twenty five years of experience as a makeup artist has made Kay one of the most revered members of the industry, and today we’ve got an interview with her.
1. Favourite makeup job ever?
Toss up between American Vogue in Vietnam with Kate Moss and Bruce Weber, a Prince video (also had the divine Argentinean actress Mia Maestro whose eyes I covered in purple as an homage to Prince) and the two Calvin Klein ads (Kate Moss in Virgin Islands, Amber Valetta in Panama) I did on paradisiacal beaches.
2. Worst makeup job ever?
Let’s just say there are a lot of people in fashion who need to do a lot of work on themselves, who are not given boundaries because others benefit too much from overlooking their dysfunction.
3. Top 5 products?
Chanel Vitalumiere foundation, Chanel eye pencil in Ambre, Bobbi Brown Black Gel Eyeliner, Shu Uemura eyelash curler, M Lab moisturiser.
4. If you could tell women to do one thing differently with their makeup, what would it be?
Stop over-plucking your eyebrows, you look really weird. Strictly makeup only? Experiment & have fun for chrissakes!
5. How did you get started in the business?
Via clubbing and meeting pop stars.
6. How is fashion different to when you started out?
It is totally mainstream with none of the sophisticated sub-culture that I was fortunate enough to grow up marinating in. It is also completely cross-referenced now. Before, there were always VERY distinct tribes with distinct differences.
7. Which work are you most proud of?
Strangely, seeing as I’ve done a lot of prestigious and edgy editorial, it’s actually the most classically beautiful work like the covers and my red carpet work as this is where skill, effort and experience come into play and where I feel I can make the biggest difference, the biggest impact.
8. What do you love doing in your spare time?
I love to practice yoga, walk in the park, go to my local and spend time with my new puppy Quincy Jones.
Is there anything else that you’d like to talk about?
I want to bring back subculture and not have everyone feel ‘style-ruled’ by the fashion press. Ignore us! Do your own thing & dance to your own drum.