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If there's one creative constant you can rely on in these times of darkness, it's David Bowie. The late musician, artist, and style icon has a body of work that's worthy of many lifetimes and his exuberant, all-embracing spirit lives on in every facet of it. For a group of makeup artists in isolation, revisiting Bowie's wide breadth of epochal makeup looks has served as a powerful coping mechanism amid social distancing.
Over the past few weeks, Grace Ahn, Justin Lentz, Phoebe Ogan, Rachael Vang, Valerie Harvey, and Ivan Castro have participated in a “Makeup Houseparty” series, in which they gather on the group-video-chatting application and each take on a select visual theme. "Connecting with my fellow artists and sharing the results has been a lifeline in these uncertain times," explains Lentz, who was working as the makeup artist for Madonna's Madame X tour before its remaining dates were cancelled due to coronavirus concerns. The latest theme? None other than Starman himself. Not only did it present an extraordinary opportunity to flex their skills, using advanced techniques to perfect Bowie's directional looks, but the gathering gave them the chance to wax poetic about how he's impacted them as artists.
"David Bowie's aesthetic and groundbreaking originality was something that has inspired so many corners of my life, personal style, and artistry," explains Harvey. "Having nursed this obsession with Bowie for decades, when we started doing these parties in quarantine and coming up with themes, Bowie was naturally my first suggestion to our group."
As tends to be the case when Bowie is the catalyst, the final results of their tribute were nothing short of awe-inspiring. They even caught the attention of Bowie's wife Iman, who shared a composition video of all their recreations. "We are all David," wrote the supermodel. Here, each artist shares their final Bowie look, and gets candid about why they chose it.
"I’ve had a deep, longtime obsession with David Bowie, his music and films. From the moment I discovered him as a young girl living in South Central, L.A., while everyone else was immersed in the budding rap culture, Bowie made the most sense to me. I called dibs on recreating his Aladdin Sane album cover look because that was the first image I ever saw of him, which immediately sparked an insatiable desire to know everything about who this beautiful man was. This look is iconically Bowie and the perfect image of his original, upside-down approach to art, music, and free expression for men and women alike. It was such an honor to take on this look amongst the talented group of artists I’ve been friends with for 15 years. I love how the entire tribute turned out. It’s my favorite to date!"
"This makeup for Bowie's Ashes to Ashes album cover is my favorite Bowie makeup look. I love the Pierrot style that the great makeup artist Richard Sharah created. I think what attracted me to this is that it’s a complete fantasy created with makeup alone. Also Richard Sharah’s work is so distinct and helped inspire me to be the makeup artist I am today."
For me, David Bowie was a force who helped shift the paradigm of gender norms by blurring the lines of masculinity and femininity through his art. When my friends and I were deciding which looks to recreate, the one that came to mind instantly was the superlative look that legendary makeup artist Pierre Laroche created for his iconic Ziggy Stardust persona. I’m always drawn to colors and textures that create interesting juxtapositions and this image was the pinnacle of that. And what artist does not love the drama of a red and gold palette?"
"His greatest hits album, Best Of Bowie, was the number one choice for me to recreate as it’s a tiny slice of the most iconic eras of his career. In hindsight an added bonus of this look was being able to finish it fast enough to really enjoy the chat we have in every session about why the subject means so much to us."
"For my David Bowie look, I chose his character Goblin King Jareth from Labyrinth. As a kid watching this movie, I was in awe of all the fantasy and adventure. That made me want to capture a more brooding character of his since he has so many facets in his repertoire. It was fun to do makeup that wasn’t your run-of-the-mill pretty, and put my personal twist on it to make it feel more sinister."
"David Bowie......I have been listening to his music my entire life. I chose the gorgeous Pin Ups album with Twiggy. The colors and the '70s vibe really spoke to me. Stepping out of my comfort zone and essentially becoming someone else is what this makeup is all about. The challenge of pushing all of my hair off my face and creating this look gave me newfound confidence. I didn't want to wash it off."
Originally Appeared on Vogue