In a Brooklyn studio, the Paris-born, New York-based makeup artist Violette is putting the finishing touches on the face of one her models. Violette—she goes by first name only— is dressed in white Nikes, boyfriend jeans and a feminine peplum top. She’s opted for a no makeup look but she’s surrounded by various pots of glitter, tubes of glue, and piles of pigments for today’s shoot.
At age 19, after spending summers working at fashion ateliers and studying art at the Louvre, Violette headed to New York to try her hand as a professional make up artist. “I had like three brushes and two foundations in my bag,” recalls Violette. To prove her skills, she offered to do makeup on models for free.
Fast forward to 2014, Violette has become the one of the most-in-demand makeup artists in the fashion world, ratcheting up an exclusive roster of clients from Carine Roitfield and Dior. They love her use of eccentric materials like glitter, sand, gold leaf and sticker-stars.
We caught up with Violette to talk about her muses, the Kardashians’ painted faces, and her personal DIY tips for creating her over-the-top looks.
Yahoo Style: What you do is totally different and so much more than base makeup with eye shadow, a brush of mascara, and a kiss of lipstick. Where did you get your ideas from?
Violette: I used to collect fashion pictures that really inspired me— so I was looking at Vogue and other fashion magazines. I would compare my work to the faces in the images. And I was very hard on myself.
YS: Obviously it’s art. It’s not just makeup. So how do you make that translation?
V: Studying art taught me how to work with pigments. I build almost all of my products on set. I also learned how to approach applying make up like it’s an academic painting. I learned how to create dimension in a face and how to consider light and shadow— it’s exactly the same technique as you would use to paint faces on a flat canvas.
YS: Do you have a muse?
V: I love women. All women around the world are my muses. People ask me all the time, ‘Who is your icon?’ But I have the same answer: none. I find something so inspiring in each of the women that I meet.
YS: So when you see someone, you don’t already have an idea of what you want to do
V: No. It’s like when I touch her face, then I know in that instant.
YS: How do you adapt these textures and techniques to an every makeup regime? How would I wear something like the models are wearing in this shoot?
V: You can do the molten cooper eyes if you do a base that’s super natural, fresh, and clean. But if it’s too done, it can look costumey and I don’t like that. You want to work with concealers, only on parts of the face, a little blush, and no mascara. Keep it super simple. And then the molten copper eyes look like a true fashion statement.
YS: You will go beyond the red lip, but you love a red lip.
V: Yes, I love a red lip. It sounds super weird but I was obsessed with the Wizard of Oz when I was a kid. I was really crazy about the shoes and I feel like there is a link between shoes and lips. I don’t know why. For example, and maybe this is because I am French, but I usually accessorize with just a lip and a heel. For me, those are the two things that make it a bit va-va-voom. I wanted to create Dorothy’s shoe texture on lips, like we did in the shoot – glittery lips.
YS: Most girls are intimidated by makeup in general, like creating that perfect smoky eye. What are your tips?
V: If you want to do a super crazy smoky eye, follow the natural shape of your eyes. If your eyes go down, your makeup should go a little bit up.
YS: What do you think of the no makeup trend?
V: I think it’s genius. The problem for women is that many people always think they’re perfect, but they’re not. It’s a way to show people that we are human and to show that natural side is gorgeous.
YS: So what do you think of the Kardashians’ pancake style makeup then?
V: Why not? When you’re drawing a face on a canvas you put the shadows, highlights, and all of that. I think they are painting their faces. And I think art is subjective.
YS:What about any makeup hacks, especially since you use such unconventional materials?
V: I buy cosmetic pigments and build my own crazy colors and textures. You can go to an art supply store and get some golden leaf. Then put some cream on your eyelid so you can place the golden leaf right on there, like eyeshadow. Then clean the cream wherever you don’t want the gold to be. That’s how you get a crazy, gorgeous texture on your eyes.
YS: And what about crazy sparkly lips?
V: Put gloss on your lips. Then dip a tissue into glitter and dab it on to your lips.
YS: Are you interested in doing makeup on celebrities?
V: I’ve done some celebrities in the past. The only problem is that I love to change it up every day. Usually if you work with a celebrity and they love you, they want you to stay with them. I don’t want to just live and work in one world.
YS: Do you think social media has changed beauty?
V: Social media has allowed the world of beauty to have a whole other audience that is super excited about what we do. Fashion is obsessed with trends and I really discovered that people in the beauty world don’t care as much about trends. They don’t care about being cool. They just want to be in the moment, like ‘I want that nail. I want it now.” When I post something on Instagram and I see what people like, that becomes the trend I want to follow.
YS: So what does your own makeup bag look like?
V: Mac, Tom Ford, Dior and Nars.