Writing earlier about make-up in the mid 1500s, I remembered a shoot for US Vogue in June 2000, featuring Carmen Kass, shot by Michael Thompson, styled by Tonne Goodman with hair by Serge Normant and make-up by me. It was titled Divine Inspiration and compared designers’ inspiration with their interpretion. Helmut Lang was inspired by Zurbaran’s 1640 portrait of Sainte Elisabeth de Portugal, “Borrowing a detail that doesn’t exist today,” for his Fall 2000 collection. I like that notion and feel encouraged anew to scan old paintings for similar inspiration – there’s always a rosy cheek, shadowy hue or white highlight you can lift!
I was very inspired by BBC1′s adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall on Wednesday night – a future classic, firing on all cylinders yet a slow burn drama, allowing time to relish the details and digest the complexities. Refreshing in our age of quick fixes and fast edits. It’s a treat to watch stage actor Mark Rylance (as Thomas Cromwell) on TV and I found the acting superb, particularly Claire Foy as a deliciously annoying Anne Boleyn. Hilary Mantel wrote a piece in today’s Sunday Times News Review, saying that our fascination with the Tudors endures because they are just like us (only bloodier!)
In fact, women ‘bled’ themselves to look paler, as this was a prerequisite for courtly beauty, signifying nobility, wealth and delicacy (not having to work outside in the sun). Make-up wasn’t fashionable during the reigns of early Tudors; it was Queen Elizabeth 1 who set the precedent, wearing lead white to cover up her smallpox scars and signs of ageing, along with vermilion to redden cheeks and lips. Make-up became heavy and was sadly often poisonous, but women have always been prepared to suffer for beauty!
What gave the actresses in Wolf Hall authenticity was their apparent lack of make-up, thanks to the work of award-winning make-up artist Morag Ross. Of course, we know that ‘no make-up’ often entails quite a few products, and can often be the hardest look to achieve. We all want pure, flawless, healthy looking skin, and the balance between a light touch yet still covering blemishes, is something most women want, and that hasn’t changed throughout history.
Today we have so many products to choose from (fortunately non-poisonous in the main) and it’s fun to experiment, but also confusing. Make it easy for yourself by having a basic set of products and techniques to create your ‘best version of yourself’ face – your ‘no make-up’ make-up. You may use primer, foundation, concealer and powder or a tinted moisturiser/BB cream – depending on your skin type and the season. Include a blush and you’ve immediately portrayed health – I find cream blush to be the most natural looking, applied low on cheeks (like the flush in old oil painted portraits). Also add light – we’re always thinking about shading and not enough about brightening. You’ll be surprised at how refreshing a buff of pearlised powder on bones can be. Brows really do frame your face and a little definition with pencil or powder increases contrast, aiding a youthful appearance. Dot a brownish black eye pencil along the lash line to make them appear fuller and darker, curl lashes and tickle them with a light coat of mascara. Nourish lips with balm and boost shape with a natural lip colour pencil. If you don’t normally pay this much attention to your make-up, it sounds like a lot of products and effort, but you’re worth spending time on. The routine will become quicker and once you’ve got your base right, you can add whatever ornamentation you fancy on top, whether that’s a singular or signature statement – a crafted lip, slick eyeliner, smoky eye shadow or cheek contour – or a balanced make-up that includes all features. Or you could skip everything and just don a crown…
Our working day began this morning while it was still dark! Luckily we had plenty of lights set up backstage at Roland Mouret’s Pre Fall 15 show so we could start making up our models at 7am. With a great M.A.C team on board and reliable products at our fingertips, all models had their ‘individually defined beauty with a punk edge and Mayfair polish’ applied in time for the 8.30am rehearsal! Nails were painted deep navy by Ama Quashie using Morgan Taylor. Hair was teased and tousled by Lyndell Mansfield and her team who created a fun atmosphere with their music and energy.
In fact, Lyndell’s make-up provided some of the inspiration for the show, along with a pinch of Gwyneth Paltrow in the Royal Tenenbaums and Sissy Spacek in Badlands. Also Sophia Neophitou’s eyeliner, who art directed the looks and styled the show. Each model had their own singular statements to suit, ranging from an intense black liner around the eyes with layers of cloggy mascara; heavy, spidery lashes with black kohl in the waterline or a matte red lip with blurred edges. Skin was kept fresh and with minimal amount of concealor applied. Models looked boyish rather than pretty – tough but chic. By 9.30am it was time to get organised for the model line up. M.A.C artist Dominic came prepared with his clip on lights to check for any imperfections…
Showtime was just after 10am and by 11am we’d left the building and the Instagrams were in full swing, capturing the mornings events! I can’t imagine a better way to end the year – I’ve worked with Roland since the 90s so it’s wonderful to watch his evolution. I’d like to give thanks to M.A.C for their support; the brilliant Jude Paternoster for her fine organisation and humour; Inca Events for their elegant production; Sorcha Adamson at CLM for being there and my two fabulous, loyal assistants, Hannah Paul and Lucy Pearson.
By Hannah Paul
Last week we welcomed the UK’s top beauty press to Dowsettland! We were very excited to have guests and it seemed appropriate that our first event was for Maybelline NY’s SS15 trends presentation…
With warm welcomes out of the way and everyone seated Sharon took us through a demo with various looks that weaved in lots of inspiration from our latest trends. Our journey started with the most important essentials for every woman, that could take her confidently to the gym, off to work or shopping. We were then treated to a crafted eye look that included shades of champagne and an elegant eyeliner for that important working lunch or afternoon off. We finished with a Friday night out look and the option to create the perfect lip with various layers to determine staying power or an updated smokey eye with a flash of vibrant turquoise suitable for a weekend festival or late night gig! Our model for the day, Georgie Hobday carried off each look beautifully..
During the demo Sharon laid out the make-up she used on the beauty bar for the journalists to play with. As you can see from the picture below she found it hard to choose her favourite products and instead ended up using 34 Maybelline NY items to create the end result.
We also had the brilliant nail technician Michelle Humphrey with us to take us through nail trends for SS15 and a chance to see the latest capsule collection Maybelline NY have brought out for Christmas. It doesn’t matter what we meet for, discussions always stray to another season!
The studio took on a real transformation with the Maybelline NY team making their mark. Our beauty bar had the trend book laid out for referencing during the demo and our bookcase featured the season’s key looks, while cleverly displaying the perfect products to achieve them. Our guests had the opportunity to have a closer look after the demo and it was great to also see them peeking at Sharon’s work, books and masses of make-up she has built up through such a successful career!
In the afternoon we enjoyed some delicious treats and squeezed in some time to celebrate Georgie’s birthday, with a surprise visit from make-up master Andrew Gallimore – a perfect finish to a great day!
It was sad to see everyone leave Dowsettland but we loved that they enjoyed the day and filled Instagram with some great pictures. Even our lovely model, Georgie said it was the ‘Best day at work ever!’
Images by Hannah Paul, Lucy Pearson (Sharon’s assistants) and Sharon Dowsett.
This gallery contains 4 photos.
Harrods magazine has just published this beauty story, All That Glistens, photographed by David Ferrua, featuring model Valerija Sestic and written by Jan Masters. I’ve been discussing the use of gold in makeup with my assistants, Hannah and Lucy, who say … Continue reading
I never used to care much about skin care, because there was always make-up to cover it up! Now that I’m older and definitely wiser, skin care is an important bridge to make-up: it’s fundamental. For the past few years or more, I’ve been a judge on the Annual STYLIST Skin Care Awards – although I’m not a skin care expert, I have lots of experience in using products practically. The fifth annual awards were held recently which prompted me to consider what are the products that I consistently reach for… what are my face savers? I’m very lucky that brands are generous and send quality products for me to try out, but that can sometimes be confusing (for the skin too!) I must admit that my favourites do change, sometimes on a whim and sometimes according to the season or specific skin needs, but here’s what I’m using in my kit and bathroom at the moment:
Clarisonic - this machine cleans skin six times more efficiently than manual cleansing and helps skin care products to be more efficient.
Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Cream - simple but effective, hydrating and glow giving. I love having these little mini pots in my travel kit.
Kiehl’s Skin Rescuer - I’m always reaching for this stress-minimizing daily hydrator, and so is my husband. Their Rosa Arctica Eye Cream’s great too.
Maybelline NY Baby Lips – I use this balm more than any other product during fashion week: not only to nourish lips, but to give freshness to skin, especially cheeks.
Embryollise – I never leave Paris without a few tubes. I find this moisturiser is the most useful in my kit because it seems to suit everyone.Good value for money.
Erborian BB Flash Essence - a serum from a new Korean range which I’ve only just started using, and I’m most impressed with the brightening effect.
NUXE 24HR Soothing and Rehydrating Fresh Mask - does exactly what it says! I use this at least once a week, and I especially enjoy applying it after a sauna and steam.
Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels - I like Skyn’s no-nonsense, straightforward approach and these eye gels have come in handy on a few occasions.
Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm – you only have to unscrew the lid to be transported into a spa! The oily base cleanses effectively, lifting make-up from skin.
CHANEL Gentle Biphase Eye Make-up Remover - it’s the best! The combined water and oil formula lift off the most stubborn, waterproof mascara. Reliable.
Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water - of course I’m a fan of Bio Derma, but this comes in a bigger bottle for half the price and does the same job in my opinion.
Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant - this gentle exfoliant is a classic and has never been off my bathroom shelf. Just make sure you rinse properly!
L’Occitane Creme Divine – rich and creamy for when I feel like I need extra moisturising, either in the morning or at night. Luxury.
Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate - for a long time I avoided oil because I have oily skin, but this blend helps to balance it. I use it alone or with other night creams.
This Works No Wrinkle Midnight Moisture - created by beauty guru Kathy Philips who knows her stuff. Smells relaxing, sinks in easily and doesn’t make too many claims.
I’ve been going through my archives recently, whilst moving into my new studio (aka Dowsettland). When I came across these two old stories from i-D and Dazed, photographed by Mark Alesky (with hair by maestro Malcolm Edwards), my assistants asked how I did the make-up. For the top three looks, I asked the models to lie on the floor while I crouched over them with a straw and some diluted aquacolour. I dropped a small amount of paint and blew it through a straw, then repeated the process until I was happy with the pattern. Thanks Kim and Molly! It was quite risky and random, but that’s how I liked it in those days. For the bottom four looks, I used an airbrush in a very amateur way, trying to imagine where the shadows would fall and recreating them. We were shooting in soft daylight so I really had to use my imagination! The make-up on the title page, Textbook Definition, was inspired by the shadow cast by George’s glasses (from Gilbert and George). My only regret was that I never mastered the equipment but I was ever so pleased with the published story. In fact, it’s one of my favourites! You can view Mark’s portfolio at: http://www.markalesky.com/portfolio.html
As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been looking through past archives and enjoying old work immensely, especially collaborations with other creatives. Toby Neilan is a graphic artist who accompanied me on many shows, in London, Paris and Milan, taking photos and manipulating them, giving a beautiful extra dimension. For the AW04 season he created these mood boards which really express backstage: the models, make-up, hair, styling, clothes and accessories. You can see more of his work at www.tobyneilan.com but here are eight great works featured in my previous site, I-Shadow issue 4.
ASHLEY ISHAM, London
GIBO by Julie Verhoeven, London
JOHN RICHMOND, Milan
VERONIQUE BRANQUINHO, Paris
I’ve been enjoying looking through my archives in my new Studio and found this postcard which was designed for my company by the illustrator and artist Fiona Wylie (the original ‘eye’ logo was designed by Reed Wilson). This discovery triggered a jaunt through my previous website (accessed top right) to look at Fiona’s trend inspired images for i-shadow.net, SS04. They’re so vibrant I thought they were well worth a revisit. You can read the text by fellow make-up artist Lee Pycroft and myself at:
LOUD MOUTHS AND BIG BROWS inspired by Tracy Boyd
COLOURAMA inspired by J Maskrey
SUPER NATURAL inspired by Julie Verhoeven for GIBO
NAUGHTY NOUGHTIES inspired by Collette Dinnegan
HEAVENLY EARTHLY inspired by Warren Noronha
Fiona’s work can be viewed at:
Thank you Fiona!
I’ve just moved into my new Studio and the best bit has been going through old files and finding photos like these, taken by Andrew Gallimore in the days when we worked together. These lovely lips belong to beautiful model and actress Liberty Ross, who has always been elegant, graceful and fun to work with. We sneaked these shots in whilst working with photographer Donna Trope… Naughty! But nice.