A few days ago, I was doing my makeup in front of the mirror. Nothing new here, you might say. I was clutching my beloved MAC 217 – beauty fans will most definitely know what I am talking about – and I realized that the woman in the mirror was holding a brush. A brush! Me, with the drawing skills of a kindergartener… The best I can do with any artist’s tool is doodle when I am on the phone! Makeup brushes, professional ones especially, really resemble a painter’s tools, and if you think about it, makeup is always our daily moment of creativity, isn’t it? Choosing the right lipstick, matching eyeshadow colours are all activities similar to an artist’s work, that allow us to express our mood of the day, or perhaps our sense of belonging to a type, or a style, using our face as our our canvas. I always wished to be portrayed as a pre-raphaelite painting, which is why my daily aesthetics might remind others of just that. Anyway, I am wandering off, most of all, my artistic side has taken control. What I do in my room in the morning is very, very far from what you could define an artist’s work: I really don’t feel good enough to call myself an artist.
When talking about makeup, photo shoots and catwalks are the best places to see artists at work, and watch the pros unleash their creativity, create trends, and suggest new ways to interpret makeup. Think about the Spring-Summer 2017 shows: there was some crazy stuff there! Think of the graffiti-style graphic style we saw at Leitmotiv and Emilio Pucci‘s shows; think of the face paint spotted at the Max Mara and Desigual shows, or of the softer, yet creative interpretations, such as the flamboyant eyeliners at Fendi and Vivetta. There was also some incredible experimentation going on, as was seen at Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, Giamba, Issey Miyake, and Olympia Le Tan: they chose really crazy looks! Of course, getting to those levels would require very high skills, although according to some artists – just ask Jane Richardson at NARS – there are moments when anyone can feel like an expert. The true sign of change comes when you make a mess, and realize you are completely able to fix it.
Really: you don’t need to be able to recreate all the catwalk looks, or to get crazily creative with carnival-like makeup. Actually knowing what we are doing when applying makeup, and our ability to exchange tips and advice with friends and acquaintances is what sets us apart from those who apply 43 kilos foundation by mistake, have no idea how to fix that, and proceed to leave the house like that, secretly hoping no one notices the mess – by the way, if that ever happens to you, just get a wet sponge and wring it well: that will easily get rid of the excess foundation. Anyway, to go back to our parallels with art, it’s a little like a painter working on many versions on his canvas, over and over, until he gets to the one that makes him happy. This was very common in the past: analyzing art with modern technologies, we realized just how much artists used to work on their paintings, mistake after mistake, until they finally produced their masterpiece. When we do our makeup, our face is our only canvas, and we must make sure we look after it very carefully. Makeup can be art too, and it can also get pretty philosophical: you can learn from your mistakes, and when you know how to fix those, that is when you know you can call yourself an expert. Ah, the things I discover while looking in a mirror, doing my makeup! Who knows, next time I might as well end up understanding relativity theory… Hey, it might be useful sooner or later!