The Interview – Kabuki


Kabuki is something of a legend in the fashion industry, having risen so rapidly up through the ranks of top makeup artists to reach the level he is now in just a few short years. He is Ms Kylie Minogue’s makeup artist and is currently travelling with her (having just wrapped Paris Fashion Week!) and within the business he is renowned for being a ‘makeup artist’s makeup artist.’ Born in London and based in New York, Kabuki has worked with some seriously major names, beginning with the first two series of Sex and the City (and if you don’t remember changing your makeup routine to emulate Carrie Bradshaw’s noughties gorgeousness, you must have been living in a yurt in Tibet). Since then he has created memorable looks for Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani and Madonna, and is still a regular contributor to Italian Vogue as well as US Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Allure and Numero.

His incredible use of colour and theatrical take on fantasy make his work both opulent and unmissable, but he can also create an understated modern beauty look for clients like Gwyneth Paltrow when required. He has recently been appointed the Creative Director of myface.cosmetics (one of MM’s favourite brands!)

I was very lucky to get a moment with him.Here is his interview:


1 – What are you working on at the moment?

I just finished shows for New York and Paris fashion week so first on my list of things to do:  regain sanity. I’m working on my paintings in my upstate New York home while my agent fills in my schedule for the winter.

2 – Favorite makeup job ever?

Michael Jackson. He was lovely to be around and we had some great conversations about the legendary people he knew. Sadly, the Matthew Rolston and Bruce Weber shoots with him turned out to be the final shoots he ever did.

3 – Top 5 Products

  1. Myface Blingtones
  2. Dior Show Mascara
  3. Nars Aqua Gel Hydrator
  4. Myface Mymix Foundation
  5. MAC #33 Lashes

Kabuki Make-up

4 – Best Makeup tip ever

Apply your makeup at a table so you can rest your elbows and have a steady hand. Make sure you have enough light to see properly. If you make mistakes, clear them with pointed Q-tips dipped in a non-oily remover, such as Crealine.  Even if you’re wearing just a little makeup, it looks bad if it’s not cleanly applied. Not the most exciting answer but, honestly, it will improve your result more than anything else I could tell you.

4 – How did you get started in the business?

I wasn’t unknown in the New York City club scene of the 1990’s so I was on designer/stylist Patricia Field ‘s radar. She plucked me out of the crowd to paint Sarah Jessica Parker’s face for a new TV show called SEX AND THE CITY. Then I worked on some movies, including PARTY MONSTER. Then Steven Klein saw that and called me for an Italian Vogue shoot. Then Madonna saw the Italian Vogue shoot and called.  And the ball was officially rolling.

5 – How is it different to when you started?

The longer you’re around, the more relationships you acquire. In the beginning, I think maybe some people were unsure about me for whatever reason: maybe my name sounded odd, maybe some of my over-the-top looks made them nervous. But after they meet me and work with me, they know I’m professional and just there to create a beautiful make-up that fits within their context.

Kylie - Makeup by Kabuki

6 – What do you do in your spare time?

Drawing and painting mostly.  I always bring a sketchbook and mechanical pencil with me when I travel, and I travel pretty often.

7 – What are your favorite looks for the coming Autumn/Winter season?

I like the trend towards more bold and glamorous make-up for the coming season that I’ve seen at the shows.  Clean and fresh is nice too, but nothing says “glamour” and “sexy” like a strong makeup look.

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The Interview – Lee Pycroft

London-based Lee Pycroft has been working as a celebrity makeup artist for over fifteen years, and her work can be seen on countless red carpets and magazine covers. She has worked with celebrities like Naomi Watts, Sienna Miller, Reese Witherspoon, Jessica Biel, Diane Kruger and Elle McPherson, to name a few. She has worked for British Vogue, Grazia, GQ, Esquire Glamour, Tatler and ELLE, always giving her makeup a signature strong, sexy feel that remains polished and feminine. I assisted Lee in London and not only is she a lovely person, I like that she is able to take her incredible red carpet work and translate it for every day women, which is a skill in itself. Without further ado, I give you, The Interview.
Sienna Miller - Lee Pycroft Makeup 1) What are you working on at the moment?

I have just finished working on the live final of Britain’s Next Top Model which aired this week. There were several make up changes to be made in very little time so I worked on themes that will delivered impact but allowed for quick changes! I just did the Richard Sorger show at London Fashion Week and am prepping for a beauty story that is coming up.

2) Favourite makeup job ever?

My favourite make up job ever was also sprinkled with a touch of luxury too!
I travelled through the night to Las Vegas on a private jet to do the make up for an actress who was receiving a life time achievement award. Her look got a lot of press and the job was lucrative and fun.

Diane Kruger - Lee Pycroft Makeup 3) Top 5 products?

  • Chanel Pro Lumiere Foundation
  • Chanel Inimitible Mascara
  • Mac Mineralise Pressed Powder
  • Bobbi Brown Gel Liner
  • Lancome Long Lasting Softening Concealer

4) Best makeup tip ever?

Keep your eyes on mass market brands as they are swiftly catching up to the prestige brands in terms of technology and textures. If you shop around a little you can pull together an impressive selection of inexpensive products that will deliver impressive results…. watch this space!

5) How did you get started in the business?

I started by doing a basic make up course then writing to all the photographers I could find and asking if I could test with them. My letter was enthusiastic and I got lots of calls back! I then met other more established make up artists who allowed me to help them, for free. This gave me priceless experience and I made contacts too. I always think half of my success has come from being relentless in my attempts to establish myself, a positive attitude and whatever periods of great success I have had, always being grateful for what has come my way…

Cate Blanchet - Lee Pycroft Makeup 6) How is it different to when you started?

There are far more people in the business now but my position is easier as I am so much more established!

7) What do you love doing in your spare time?

I love doing motivational courses! Anything that stretches the mind and spirit; I love hitting the road alone or with loved ones and finding random places to stay, going walking by the river, anything that feeds the spirit and creates memories…. as you never know when you might be creating your last one…

8) What are your favourite looks for the coming Autumn/Winter season?

I love the silky tobacco stained eyes with khol inside at Gucci and the reckless looking dark eyes at Zac Posen.

For more of Lee’s work please visit

The Interview: Ellis Faas

Ellis Faas Creamy red lipstickDutch-born makeup artist Ellis Faas certainly has the eye of a painter, and the soul of an artist. Growing up in the Netherlands with a very artistic family, she first wanted to be a photographer but quickly grew frustrated by the technical side of photography, and more and more drawn to the magic being created on the face on the other side of the camera.

This bloomed quickly into an editorial career that within the space of a few years had her working on all the major magazines around the globe with top photographers like Mario Testino, Patrick Demarchalier, Vincent Peters, Karl Lagerfeld, Paolo Roversi, Terry Richardson and Jean-Baptiste Mondino. Her intuitive and often startling use of colour has made her highly respected in the industry, and the sumptousness of her makeup work was always distinctively hers.

She has now turned her considerable talents to her line of makeup available around the world. The Ellis Faas line is designed to make women’s hectic lives simpler, more streamlined, and yes, more beautiful. The idea is simple – to re-work the basic elements of a woman’s makeup needs into a sleek container that chicly and snuggly fits in your bag, and can be used when needed – and to be gorgeous enough to use in public.

I met Ellis in London late last year when she launched her line at Liberty’s of London, and not only is she a lovely person and a great makeup artist, her line of cosmetics is a practical and elegant solution to the age old problem of the overflowing, disorganized makeup bag. I love the colours of her line which are all based on the human body – the bruisy browns of the creamy eyeshadows are incredible, and the quality of the concealers and foundations are superb. Plus, Ellis Red lipstick really does suit everyone!

Even though they are only a young brand, they’ve already been voted Editor’s Favourites at Allure and Glamour. We are lucky enough to have an interview with the lady herself.

1) What are you working on at the moment?
At this very moment, we are preparing the launch of our new products: five eye highlighters. They are not merely highlighters, because these are liquid, but they dry upon application, and then the Lights give the illusion of having a small metallic sheet on the eyelid. It was quite a challenge to come up with the right texture and the right pigments, but I think you are going to like them!

2) Favourite makeup job ever?
That’s difficult… I tend to have best memories because of the team and what happened on the set. But if I have to choose a great team in combination with makeup that I am really proud of, that would be a beauty shoot for Numéro by Jean-Baptiste Mondino.

3) Top 5 products?
Of our own brand? Our foundation, concealer, mascara, “Creamy Eyes” eye shadow and Ellis Red lipstick.

4) If you could tell women to do one thing differently with their makeup, what would it be?
I don’t believe in giving rules of dos and don’ts, but if there is one thing that women have to keep an eye on is choosing the right shade of foundation. Apart from that, I just hope that people will experiment and will develop their own sense of beauty, without listening what people like me are “advising”.

5) How did you get started in the business?
I have always liked makeup, but initially, I wanted to become a photographer – also because I didn’t even know that makeup could be a profession. Making photos I always used a lot of makeup, and more and more I disliked the technical aspect of photography and but instead was drawn to the intuitive side of doing makeup. Both is creating an image… And actually I never stopped photographing either, but never professionally until we started our own brand for which I take all the pictures.

My international career started after photographer Mario Testino saw my portfolio and asked me to work with him. After that the ball started rolling.

6) How is it different to when you started?
For me personally? That is the travel, and the needed flexibility because you never know when you have to leave for a job.

7) Which work are you most proud of?
My own brand!

8) What made you start your own line?
I made something that I missed in my own daily life. My professional kits were always very neat and organised, but I couldn’t stand my private makeup bag: different sizes, different ways of packaging, brushes and other applicators – and all of that stuffed into a bulging makeup bag. There once was a survey that women take longer to find a product in their bag than actually applying it, and it was exactly like that for me. Many brands try to come up with portable solutions, but then for instance they make palettes of which you only use one colour. So the main thing is that I wanted to come up with a solution that was practical, looked nice and gave women 100% flexibility. And the flexibility is also in the colours that suit all skin tones, and the application of the product is very easy for non-professionals.

9) What do you love doing in your spare time?
Like building my own brand, I also like to “build” things in spare time: so I’m always working on my house, my garden…

10) What are your predictions for the coming season for makeup?
I have no idea, because I never keep track of trends. But of course I hope the whole world will fall for liquid eye highlighters as THE thing to start using. And I know just the brand where they can find that ;).

On Wednesday, June 9th, Ellis will be at Liberty’s of London, answering questions from the audience and there is a chance to meet Ellis personally. I highly recommend a play with her lovely line, as it really is like nothing else on the market. There is a booking fee, but that is redeemable against sales on the night. Please call 020 7734 1234 ext. 2506.

The Ellis Faas line is sold in Liberty’s of London, Mecca Cosmetica in Australia, and Bergdorf Goodman New York.

The Interview: Sophy Robson, the Nail Queen

Kate Moss in Vogue - nails by Sophy RobsonSophy is arguably the hottest manicurist in the world at the moment, having just finished the runway shows for Louis Vuitton, Vivienne Westwood and Stella Macartney (not to mention creating the totally bad-ass ghetto nails at Henry Holland’s London show that were all over, shot campaigns for Tom Ford, Longchamp and McQueen, and tended to the celebrity nails of Alexa Chung and every supermodel in the world – put it this way, Kate Moss is a regular. Not bad when only ten short years ago she was working in a nail bar in Soho!

She is loved in the industry for her sparkly personality and her endless technical skills – this is a lady who has custom blended fifty nail polishes for a runway show, has her own blog (which is ace by the way – check it out at for a real behind the scenes look at fashion), created the graded nail and basically invented this season’s trend, the Mannequin Nail. So without further ado, I bring you ten questions with the Nail Queen herself:

1) What are you working on at the moment?
I have just finished fashion week (thirteen shows!) come back and done a four looks nail story for Grazia and a Topshop make up and Armani campaign straight after so once I caught my breath, I am now working on a display for a press day next week at PR Mandi Lennard’s basement in Hoxton. I have never had a PR before so this is very exciting. I have also chosen a red polish for a new charity brand launching in April called All For Eve.

2) Favourite nails job ever?
I have enjoyed and felt fulfillment from many, many jobs. However, show-wise, I think my favourite was the first time I did the Louis Vuitton show last year, as working with someone like Marc Jacobs and an organisation as efficiently run as Louis Vuitton was both a demanding and rewarding experience. When I was re- booked again this season it was quite an honour for me, and the sense of accomplishment after we worked to produce another trendsetting nail for the runway is very high!Sophy Robson's nails in Elle

3) Worst nails job ever?
There was one nightmare job once but I have almost erased it from memory now. I don’t think the person in question is even in business any more so who cares!

4) Top 5 products?
Seche Vite – Dry Fast Top Coat
Solar Oil for cuticles
Diamancel nail files
Chanel Nail polish

5) If you could tell women to do one thing differently with their nails, what would it be?
STOP leaving your polish on for too long! This is the main cause of dehydration and yellowing of the nail plate.

6) How did you get started in the business?
Initially I was working for a trendy West end nail bar chain and I began to meet commercial models who would come in to get fake nails done for jobs. I was good at producing very natural looking fake nails, and began to collect their tearsheets from magazines as evidence of my work. Then I began to approach hair and make up agencies and it sort of went from there.

7) How is it different to when you started?
Nails have become big in fashion now. When I started there was barely any photographers or stylists that recognised the need for a manicurist. So the interest has increased, and generally manicurists are treated with much more respect than when I started. Also there are so many more opportunities now, as the demand for nails has grown so much.

8) Which work are you most proud of?
When the Mert & Marcus pictures of Erykah Badu in Tom Ford’s White Patchouli perfume appeared, I could not believe how good that image was. I felt like I was not likely to get a better representation of my work than that! The French Vogue cover of Laetitia Casta’s nails especially when someone told me it had been used as a reference for another shoot they were on. I am also proud of the “gradient” or Ombre” nails look as it started as a small post on my blog called “colour change nails” and went round the world. I love it when people write “I have never been that into nails until I saw this….”

Sophy Robson9) What do you love doing in your spare time?
Well when I have some I love to spend time with my daughter… she is becoming like a teenager now so we do girly things together like shopping, going out for dinner, cinema or bowling. I also love staying at hotels and going running in the park.

10) What are your trend predictions for the coming season for nails?
Pastel blue nails and other candy colours. Nails are a fashion accessory now so you can be as adventurous and stylish as you like.

The Interview – Serge Lutens

Serge-LutensMakeupMole has been incredibly fortunate to have been granted a rare interview from world-famous perfumer and makeup artist, Serge Lutens. After more than forty years in the beauty business he has some rare insights to offer. I am very grateful to Mr Lutens for taking the time to answer my questions.

1) Aside from Serge Lutens Beaute, what are you working on at the moment?

To tell you the truth, to me it doesn’t even feel like working! Let’s just say things happened along the way. It’s not a job as such but the identity of a moment.

2) What was your favourite makeup job ever?

I would say that for me, makeup was not a choice, but it presented itself to me, and it transformed my imagination in that instant. Makeup is the medium that permitted me to create these images that represent an expression. The makeup is the passage from what is real to what is imagined, the passage of the white fixed by the powder…when the skin is transformed into stone. After this step, the rest is a continuation of the story and the way it is inscribed on the skin.

3) What was your worst makeup job ever?

The moment I was mistaken for a makeup artist!

4) Top 5 products you would recommend?

Who am I to recommend something? Makeup for me is not central. It is one of the things of which I construct my artistic vision. The product could be coal, flour or even a mask (Japanese Noh theatre remains one of the most beautiful in the world!) What interests me in the end is the ritual and what it means. The expression is more important than the instrument that creates it: the paint doesn’t make the painting or the pretty pen a writer!Serge-Lutens-makeup

5) If you could tell women to do one thing differently with their makeup, then what would it be?

If it is makeup for makeup’s sake then it is of no interest to me. If the makeup represents something one wants to express in that instant, it becomes an instrument and this is interesting, but not to be made up is also makeup in itself!

6) How is it different to when you started?

That’s a long time ago. By chance I was working in a hair salon, and two years later on a busy day, I cut a strand of hair that was for me, a rupture with what was surrounding me, and “I cut short” my hair career. This was an awakening!

7) Which work are you most proud of?
It has never been about work for me. I have made things and said things and written things – all have been instruments but none have been central.

8) What do you love doing in your spare time?

Free time at home is used doing the same things – I am always searching for something! I am permanently active. I don’t read books or watch films to distract myself because I am always searching for something.

Serge Lutens Beaute is available in the UK at Harvey Nichols London and in the US at Barneys New York.

Check out my review of Serge Lutens’s fabulous  lipstick here