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Posts tagged vogue

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Inspiration; Portrait Photography

I’ve become a little known, by the poor unfortunates that work with me on a regular basis, for my obsession with references, and finding inspiration in everything… I have files of literally THOUSANDS of images that I regularly trawl for ideas and to get the creative juices flowing.  I know I’m not alone in this by any means, but whilst there are many shots of beautiful makeups in there, I also often find myself presenting someone with an image as makeup inspiration, and seeing the look of frozen confusion on their face as they try to understand why this crazy woman is presenting them with an picture of a tropical fish, or a snap of some peeling paint, or a sweaty club kid, or… as was the case with the shot in my header there at the top of the page, an old albino woman on a stormy day.

This gorgeous shot from Paola De Grenet's “Albino Beauty" series


was the inspiration behind the “White Light" beauty story I shot with Sarah Brimley, including the image below… those translucent pink shades on the eyelids, the gothic yet delicate colour palette.. luckily Sarah totally understands the inner workings of my brain and embraces those obscure references!


Similarly this shot of nude dancers, painted gold at New York’s Studio 54 back in the 70s;


Evolved into this shot from our “I Feel Love" disco-inspired beauty editorial…


I’m constantly inspired by the thought process behind great editorials and makeup designs, and the references that, in turn, inspire them. I’m also constantly flabbergasted when I see a great makeup lifted from one artist and recreated stroke for stroke by another.  Inspiration should be the process of feeling passionate, and mentally stimulated to create something… not to pass off the creative process of others as your own.  Not to get all damn preachy but I do often wonder if the two get confused by a frightening number of artists these days.  Ahem, moving on…

This post in particular is about great portrait photography, and the inspiration we can take as makeup artists from real people, in real environments. Why you often find us trawling photography books and exhibitions, watching documentaries, and eying people up on the street.

Tim Walker's incredible “An Awfully Big Adventure” for British Vogue;



Featuring beautifully inspired makeup by Petros Petrohilos seemingly based on the flushed complexions of the Kazakhs of Mongolia. The shot below is from Jimmy Nelson’s incredible book, Before They Pass Away.


and Charles Meacham's “Mongolian Man” for National Geographic, beautifully showcasing the beautiful shades within the subject’s skin…


At somewhat the opposite end of the spectrum, Gemma Booth's Virgin Suicides-esque editorial “Pretty Sexy” for Elle France;


Where the barely there, youthful complexion and romantic makeup by Alexandra Schiavi could just as easily have been inspired by the adolescent beauty of the fresh faced girls in David Hamilton's book “The Age of Innocence”


Sebastian Kim's “Tribal” editorial for Numero, featuring clay-like, textured face paint by Maud Laceppe;


Most likely found makeup inspiration from so many beautiful images of tribal face paint (I feel another post coming on…) such as “Aboriginal Teen with a Mask of Mud” by Sam Abell for National Geographic.


And could Peter Lindbergh's 1995 “Azzedine Arizona” editorial for Harper's Bazaar;


and the raw beauty makeup created by Dick Page have been inspired by Richard Avedon's legendary "In the American West" series?


Below are some favourite portrait images from the depths of my reference vaults (aka, my ipad), some of these have inspired my makeup work in some way already over the years, some have yet to make their way to a moodboard, but they certainly go to show that in these days of overly filtered instagram beauty pages and multi-million dollar cosmetic campaigns, sometimes the beauty of a moment in reality is better than anything we could hope to create, and is more inspiring than a thousand editorials…


"Painted Boy, Bombay, India, 1996" by Steve McCurry for National Geographic


"Two Female Impersonators Backstage, NYC" by Diane Arbus


Carnival, Brazil, by David Alan Harvey


"Afghan Girl" by Reza Dhegati


"In the American West" Richard Avedon


Maori Girl, “Before They Pass Away”, Jimmy Nelson


"Calle Cuauhtemoctzin, Mexico City, 1934", Henri Cartier-Bresson


"Rajasthan, 1996, Holi festival", Steve McCurry


"Sub-Saharan Mali" by Joanna B. Pinneo for National Geographic


"Girl, Pushkar", Ron Johns for National Geographic


"Bennedetta Buccellato, Sicily, 1994", William Albert Allard


Filed under makeup makeup artist makeup artists Vogue harper's bazaar elle albino beauty gothic studio54 gold gold body paint tim walker mongolia kazakhs jimmy nelson before they pass away charles meacham national geographic gemma booth virgin suicides alexandra schiavi petros petrohilos david hamilton the age of innocence natural makeup sebastian kim tribal tribal makeup maud laceppe

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Makeup Artists Hall of Fame… Charlotte Tilbury

I know I keep promising to write more product related posts, but one of the reasons I started Warpaint in the first place, was because I felt there just weren’t really any makeup blogs out there that I’d actually like to read.  The product heavy posts just don’t get me going as a reader.  Sorry product junkies, sorry sorry sorry.

For me, one of my favourite parts of this job is the research, yes I am a bad, bad nerd, and things like that get me very excited.  When the concept for a shoot comes my way, or when a client describes to me the sort of look they have in mind, I become the absolute undisputed Queen of Google.  The amount of files overflowing images that I’ve amassed over the years is ree-diculous.  I can pour over photography and fashion books, or become inspired by a texture, or perhaps a lip colour I see during a runway show, mixed with an eyeliner shape I’ve spotted on a 1950s movie star.  I’ve spent hours over the past couple of days amassing heaps of images of various stages of decay and buildings overgrown with flowers as inspiration for an upcoming shoot.  Research is your frieeeeend.  It inspires me, and that’s why I hope these more image heavy posts may get your creative juices flowing too.  (I have received some insanely hot products recently though, I promise my next post will be an ode to my pick of the best!)

It’s easy when writing these Makeup Artist related posts, to pick the more avant garde, more “out there” bodies of work, by an Alex Box or a Pat McGrath for instance.  But personally, my style, as an artist and as an appreciator of others’ art, is more eclectic.  I get just as much pleasure from creating a beautifully glowing nude skin, and fluttery set of lashes, as I do from a full on high fashion creation.  Whenever makeup students or new artists ask me for advice, I always try to impress on them the importance of appreciating the full spectrum of makeup, step away from those feather eyelashes young one!  Come and take a look at the elegant creations of Miss Charlotte Tilbury.

Whenever I think of the more classic beauty looks, there are a few names that spring to mind, but probably first a foremost for me it’s the legendary Ms Tilbury who takes the biscuit.  Not all makeup artists embody the glamour that people expect of us (myself often included!) but Charlotte is as recogniseable in the industry for her gorgeous boho chic and flowing firey red hair as she is for her enviable body of work.  A regular collaborator with Burberry, Chloe, Mango and Donna Karan amongst others (and unofficially known as Kate Moss’s favourite makeup artist - Kate has Charlotte to thank for beautifying her on her wedding day.  Not jealous at all Kate), she is known for that, polished, aspirational, feminine type of beauty. At the same time, her full-on 80s vamp look for Daphne Groenveld on the cover of Vogue Paris in December 2010 was equally iconic, as was her Cleopatra inspired block pastel eye for Alexander McQueen back in 2007.  Whether more dramatic, or more stripped back, the words that always spring to mind are feminine and luxurious.  Charlotte’s creations seem to come unashamedly from the mind of a girly girl, and as a bit of a tomboy myself, there are elements of that I definately aspire to!

Behind the scenes Charlotte has also been responsible for creating MyFace Cosmetics, currently exclusive to Boots in the UK (MyFace also has the backing of fellow makeup artist and personal fave Kabuki, talk about a dream team!).  I’ll put my hands up and say it’s probably the highest quality, drugstore-price range of makeup you can buy.  I’ve been given the range to use backstage at London Fashion Week and was seriously impressed, it’s presence backstage in itself is a testament to Charlotte’s reputation, you won’t find every high street makeup brand being used at the shows.  Their MyMix foundations, amongst other things, are wonderful, I often advocate foundation as being one of the parts of your personal makeup bag where it’s worth splashing the cash for a great finish, but if you want to be more thrifty, then get ye to MyFace quick sharp.  Charlotte also designed a full range of eye, lip and cheek shades clearly labelled as to whether they complement fair, medium or dark skintones.  Pretty much a foolproof method for the woman on the street, to rid makeup drawers nationwide of stacks of pretty shades you’ll never use.  Gawd bless you Miss Tilbury.

Enough of my gushing, feast your eyes on the beautiful creations of the lady herself, polished perfection never looked so pretty.


Filed under makeup makeup artist warpaint Lucy Gibson Charlotte tilbury kabuki vogue vogue paris daphne groenveld boots lfw london fashion week fashion week myface myface cosmetics cleopatra backstage alexander mcqueen kate moss burberry chloe mango gisele love magazine lindsay wixson rosie huntington whiteley jourdan dun id id magazine j-lo

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People of the Sun; Bronzed and Beautiful Hall of Fame!

I’m not going to lie, the Sun is a-shining outside and as much as I love writing these posts, I want to be out there feeling the warmth on my skin, not sat inside on the laptop.  As I’m sure do you so if you’re inside reading this, GET OUT THERE!!  Just don’t forget the sun protection, thankyou please.

What is it about the sunshine that just makes everyone so beautiful?  Walking home late last night on the warm streets, there were groups of people just hanging out in the balmy evening air, girls in pretty dresses, guys with their shirts thrown over their shoulders.  I felt like I was in Spanish Harlem or something.  HOT.  All that was missing was someone busting open a fire hydrant on some street corner.

I have to say I do love my skin looking bronzed, but I keep it protected these days, if you’re not a fan of your own lily white flesh, get that SPF on and see my St Tropez post for tips on beautiful bronzed flesh.  But it’s not just the tans that looks great, the skin gets this sexy, glowing warmth to it that’s just missing through those long grey days of winter.

Have you ever found that when you get off the plane in a hot country, do the toilet run to freshen up before your bags come in (just me?), you look in the mirror and nothing’s really changed but you just look… better?  It’s that warm weather glow people, I’m telling you, there’s nothing like it.  And if the sun doesn’t have his hat on where you are, there’s always the next best thing, creating it. Glycerin spray, gloss, bronzing powders, and entire bottle of N9 Face and Body… This post is an ode to the work of makeup artists channeling sunshine through their fingertips.

"Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter, 

Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here, 

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun 

And I say

It’s all right…”


Filed under makeup makeup artist lucy gibson sun sunshine suntan tanning fake tan self tan bronzer face and body gucci lady gaga sophia loren isabeli fontana vogue vogue italia harlem spanish harlem new york the beatles here come the sun daphne groeneveld sasha pivovarova armani armani cosmetics abbey lee abbey lee kershaw gisele

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A vintage editorial love affair… the 90s!

I’m a little bit OCD when it comes to researching shoots, in what I like to tell myself is a good way. I can happily while away hours pouring over books, old magazines, videos, photos, looking for makeup inspiration, and inspiration for shoot ideas in general. And now thanks to Google images, reams of street fashion, historical references, advertising, photography, couture, illustration, blah blah blah and of course, editorial are right there at my eager fingertips. And one thing cannot be denied, while I love to keep things modern and am always excited to see the industry moving forward… I… Flipping… LOVE… vintage editorial.

There’s a very cool shop in Soho here in London called VinMags, that specialises in selling back issues of hundreds of magazine titles from years gone by. Many a good friend of mine has been presented with a copy of Vogue from their birth month as a birthday prezzie. It’s always amazing and amusing to see how much fashion, and the fashion press, has changed, even within our lifetimes.

An upcoming shoot has recently had me pouring over 90s editorial, and while the fact that the 1990s, the decade in which I spent my teens, can now be considered “vintage” is slightly nauseating from a personal point of view, some of the images are certainly inspiring me creatively. The fashion of the era is definitely in the middle of a resurgance at the mo, but that seems to me to be a lot of street fashion, or more noticeable pop culture references. Editorial, filled with couture, the iconic supermodels of the day, and pushing the boundaries of fashion and beauty at the time runs the risk of being forgotten.

Well not here at Warpaint thankyou very much! Some of these images are plain beautiful, some fierce, some funny, and one even hangs framed on my bedroom wall. I’ll let you decide which is which, enjoy!


Filed under makeup makeup artist Lucy Gibson warpaint vintage editorial 90s nineties 1990s vogue paolo reversi kate moss naomi campbell supermodels models christy turlington cindy crawford kristen mcmenamy shalom harlow ellen von unwerth linda evangelista helena christensen

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My wandering mind… Too much too young?

Now, before you slap my wrists for this post, yes I know this is a makeup related blog, but I like to keep it’s entries based loosely around that theme on a variety of different subjects, so I believe this post has a place here… It does refer to a beautiful piece of editorial after all, and as a makeup artist I’m drawn to many shoots, past and present.

A piece that drew me in recently was “Cadeaux”, shot by Sharif Hamza, a good while back now, this appeared in Vogue Paris’s December 2010 issue.  I’d never seen this shoot until recently, and when Googling it I was surprised to come across reams of news articles and blog entries spewing forth horrified rants about the “sexualisation” of children, and the effect of forcing younger and younger children into the appearance-obsessed world of fashion.  I was merely drawn to the stream of striking images, and the adorably beautiful young girls, and the perfect take on adult glam makeup for kids playing dress-up, by Christelle Cocquet.  (It almost seems frivillous to discuss the makeup at this point, but it is beautifully done, evoking that sense of finger-painting with Mummy’s cosmetics that little girls tend to do, and staying just on the right side of playful.)  Now pardon me if I’m being naive, but I never felt horrified at any point…  Did I miss something?

The piece centres around the concept of gifts (“cadeaux“‘s English translation), the young girls in the shoot seemingly playing with and showing off their somewhat pricey gifts at Christmas time.  And it struck me as just that, playing.  Young girls have always liked to play dress up, is that not the spirit that this piece is trying to evoke?  Really I can’t begin to get into the subject at hand enough in a short blog post, I could write a two hundred page dissertation on this one given the time… 

I remember the first photography book I ever bought, that is still as beautiful to me nowadays as it was the first time I laid eyes on it, Sally Mann's "At Twelve".  A collection of candid black and white images showing the lives of local girls, aged 12, it conjurs up so many stories; about their lives, their characters, their desires.  These are young girls, on the cusp of, and toying with the idea of womanhood, and while they are a little older than the models in “Cadeaux”, and in this case their Lolita-esque charms have begun to make their presence known, while the photographer doesn’t try to paper over these, they still emerge with their innocence and integrity intact.  To see anything more intentionally provocative surely is in the eye of the beholder.

Sally had already courted controversy with her heartbreakingly gorgeous collection of photos "Immediate Family".  In amongst the images, the sometimes nude or partially nude shots of her own undeniably beautiful children posing for the camera caused a furore over the supposed sexualisation and exploitation of her children.  To me, it showed the closeness of an artistic family and the freedom and silliness of childhood, with honesty.  I don’t believe Mann for one second intended to exploit or harm her own children, even my favourite shot, of her daughter posing with a fake cigarette is just that, posing.  I remember having a sip of my Dad’s beer as a kid, just to “see what it tastes like”, spitting it out like a mouthful of dirt.  It’s just honesty.  To pretend that young kids don’t play with the props of adults is ridiculous.  But then is it so wrong to recreate this in a piece of art, or then editorial?

Maybe I really am being naive, while there is no innapropriate flesh on show in “Cadeaux”, there are perhaps a couple of unnervingly seductive stares to camera… And some of the outfits and hair and makeup looks on show are undeniably covetable to a grown woman, in a purely “Oooh, I want one of those!” kind of way.  But then someone plays the paedophile card and the whole thing takes a nasty turn.  Was Carine Roitfeld suggesting young girls should be going out dressed this way?  No.  Was she trying to sexualise these children?  God no!  Was this an innocent idea, wildly misjudged?  Perhaps.  Or was the controversy it courted, whilst not perhaps necessary, wholly expected and even in some way welcomed?  When Vogue Italia met with similar controversy recently, this time raising questions of racism in Steven Meisel's "Haute Mess" editorial, I had to wonder the same thing.

Is the fashion world just having a bit of innocent fun with these kind of shoots, that we all take far too seriously?  Are those in the driver’s seat of the big fashion publications so lost in their own very stylish bubbles, that they’ve lost all sense of what’s appropriate?  Or is something a whole lot more unappealing going on? 

I’m still making my own mind up here (no pun intended), so for now the jury’s still out on this one.


Filed under Lucy Gibson cadeaux carine roitfeld christelle cocquet christmas cosmetics dress up editorial gifts makeup makeup artist sharif hamza steven meisel vogue vogue paris warpaint sally mann lolita at twelve twelve cigarette black and white immediate family family photography

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Makeup Artists, Hall of Fame!

I’m really relishing the thought of getting the chance to spill the beans about some of my favourite makeup artists over time, maybe introduce you to the work of some you’ve not seen before, and for purely selfish reasons, to get the time to look back over their work and find inspiration all over again! The temptation is to talk about the more obscure artists, or certainly those that aren’t the MVPs, or perhaps newer artists, to keep things interesting.  

Truthfully though, that would seem to be a case of cutting off my nose to spite my face, as the fact is that while there are a plethora of incredible, inspiring makeup artists at the top of their game right now, one woman always stands out as THE makeup artist. The Queen Bee if you will. And that lady is of course, Miss Pat McGrath.

To 99.999% of society, uttering the name of Pat McGrath would result in a stream of blank faces, and oh what a poor, unenlightened bunch they would be, because to makeup artists, this woman is kind of like our Elvis.  Basically a bit of a legend.  I don’t get starstruck these days when working with celebs, and friends will vouch for the fact that I’m rarely tongue tied, but when I saw Miss McGrath quietly having a mooch around Selfridges beauty hall a few years ago, I was struck by the need to rush up and gush at her like a crazed fan, coupled with a total inability to think of anything to say.  I turned into a total fan girl.  And for that reason alone she has to be be the subject of my first Ode to a Makeup Artist.  Vogue didn’t call her “The most influential makeup artist in the world” for nuthin’.

Originally from the more than slightly unglamorous no man’s land of Northampton, like many other great makeup artists McGrath had no formal training, although she did study basic Art Foundation upon leaving school.  It seems the makeup academies and courses that are so prevalent these days are a modern monster, they didn’t much exist at all a decade ago, and as such most of the makeup artists I hold in great esteem never trained in any official fashion.  Becoming a makeup artist was merely an extension of their already thriving creativity.  Alex Box began as a fine artist, Kay Montano as a club kid, Kabuki as a fabric designer.  People like Pat are part of the reason I believe it’s passion and a love of the arts that make a true makeup artist, not the ability to write a thesis on the various layers of the epidermis, or afford the often astronomical fees.

Pat first came to prominence in the early 90s, working regularly with the then relatively unknown iD magazine, her use of colour, texture and her unique eye for undeniably cool beauty helped raise the magazine to prominence.  She still remains their beauty director to this day and hasn’t looked back since.

Pick your favourite Italian Vogue covers, or American Vogue editorials, big chance that was Pat McGrath.  Love that Steven Meisel shoot?  No doubt Pat McGrath.  Thought Rooney Mara looked like a beautiful badass in “Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”?  that was Pat’s doing.  Using a product by Armani, SKII, Max Factor, D&G?  Designed by Pat McGrath.  Wearing an on trend makeup look?  Don’t be surprised if, even without your knowing it, like some sort of Derren Browne of beauty, it was inspired by Pat McGrath.  This is because Pat has, for the last Lord knows how many years, designed more runway looks than any other artist.  She has a crack team of assistants, racing with her around roughly thirty five shows per fashion week, with 2 vans FULL of makeup, tools and references.  Rumour has it her kit consists of roughly 50 hold-alls and suitcases (my heart is all a flutter).  The makeup artist Kenneth Soh, part of Pat’s team, used to regale me with tales of the looks they had created that season, and I absolutely relished hearing about the different products and techniques that had gone into creating each look.

From the decadent, surreal creatures she created for Galliano at Dior, to the understated, polished healthy glow of Stella McCartney, each season Pat creates the looks, that filter through to become the makeup trends, that are sold in the shops and are then worn on the faces of girls in your street.  The prevalence of bleached brows on the braver fashionistas in recent years?  You can thank Pat for that.  And the fact that the red lip, after so, so many years, still remains a classic symbol of glamour and sensuality, season after season?  Don’t be surprised if Pat has something to do with it.

So there you have it, a frankly far too short and not remotely gush-worthy enough profile of my ultimate makeup heroine.  Thankfully it seems Pat shows no sign of putting down her makeup brushes (or fingers, she loves to apply with those fingers!)  any time soon, so we’ll get to enjoy her neverending, always changing creativity for years yet.  And now I’ll leave you to drool over a selection of some of my favourite McGrath creations of recent years.

What a ledge.


Vogue Italia - Nov 09

- Vogue Italia - November 2009 -

Dior - ss09

- Dior - Spring/Summer 2009 -

D&G fw09

- Dolce & Gabbana Cosmetics - Autumn/Winter 2009 -

Dior aw08

- Dior - Autumn/Winter 2008 -

Vogue Germany 2010

-Vogue Germany - March 2011 -

Prada Fragrance

- Prada Fragrance - Fall/Winter 2009 -

Gucci aw11

- Gucci - Autumn/Winter 2011 -

Vogue Italia May 2009

- Vogue Italia - May 2009 -

dior haute ss04

- Dior Haute Couture - Spring/Summer 04 -

- V Magazine - July 2009 -


- Louis Vuitton - Spring Summer 2011 -


Filed under makeup makeup artists Lucy Gibson Warpaint pat mcgrath kabuki alex box kay montano max factor sk2 skII sk-II d&g Dolce and gabbana armani vogue italia vogue dior john galliano stella mccartney kay montano id id magazine steven meisel rooney mara girl with the dragon tattoo kenneth soh fashion week fashion week makeup prada

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"Outsiders" - Vogue Paris Beauty.

I love, love, LOVE this mini beauty story in April’s issue of Vogue Paris, Karim Sadli worked with four of the industry’s top hair and makeup artists, each shooting a look of their choosing on the wonderful Malgosia Bela.  On the makeup side of things we have the incredible Lucia Pica and Yadim.  Love it.  And how dreamy do they all look in the group shot?!

First up one of my all time faves, Lucia Pica.  She gave Malgosia an aggressive, almost tribal twist on a highly seductive look.  The combo of textures and the striking shades of red, against a pale expanse of skin, is to die for.

My French is a little rusty to say the least, but roughly translated the quote reads;

I wanted to create a strong image, retaining all the beauty and charm of Malgosia. The idea being to combine what I love about my profession; contrasts, colours and textures, but always in a certain harmony 

In Yadim’s image, while we still have a glossy red lip, the vibe couldn’t be more different.  To me this look conjours up supermodels of the late 70s, incorporating oh-so-retro but oh-so-current metallics on the eye, it’s his take on a classic, luxurious look that always feels to me like the ultimate in glamour.

"My vision of modern glamoris a very chic French womanvery Guy Bourdinbut with a twist.  Here I placed the blush very high and added glitter on the eyelids, so that the result is more modern, vibrant…”

Two great, inspiring artists, not afraid to play with shades, textures or modern interpretations of beauty.  Heavenly!


Filed under makeup makeup artist Lucy Gibson warpaint vogue vogue paris beauty yadim lucia pica karim sadli malgosia bela guy bourdin