A tête-à-tête with MUA Bobbi Brown.
When I was growing up in the ’70s, if you weren’t a blond, blue-eyed supermodel, you were not considered pretty. And I certainly wasn’t that. I never saw the possibility of beauty in my face. When I went to see Love Story and saw Ali MacGraw with dark hair, a middle part, thick eyebrows and really natural makeup, I was like, ‘Wow, she’s beautiful; I guess I am too.’
“When I started out, it was a new concept that a makeup artist was going to create a line of makeup. That was revolutionary. People think I’m smart because I have always included women of all colours [in my makeup shade range]. But it’s not smart; it makes sense! I want every woman who comes to a counter to find her foundation. I didn’t do it for some marketing reason or because it was in vogue at the time. You need a foundation that matches your skin.
“How would I define nude? Nude is not beige, and nude is not washed out. Your own nude is the colour you have on your eyelids when you wash your makeup off; everyone’s is different. I’ve been doing the no-makeup look for years, but this season we call it the modern no-makeup look because it’s actually makeup that looks like you’re not wearing any. It enhances your natural beauty but helps you cover up your flaws. I’m sorry, but dark circles need to be brightened. [Laughs]
“Makeup gets you in these bizarre places that people don’t realize. [In the ’80s], Annie Leibovitz hired me and I got to do the Rolling Stones’ makeup for the Dirty Work cover. It was really fun. Keith wanted black, smoky eyes. I actually saved all of the smudgy cotton Q-tips for years; I don’t know where they are now! After I did their makeup, the stylist came in with all of their clothes on hangers. She closed the door and said, ‘Okay, guys, get ready.’ I’m cleaning up my makeup and I look up and all of the Rolling Stones are in their underwear, getting dressed.
“I’m the ultimate chick magnet. [Laughs] Sometimes I say ‘Have you ever heard of Bobbi Brown the makeup company?’ When someone says ‘No,’ then I’m like, ‘Well, I have this cosmetics company and we use real models, and you can Google me.’ But I’ve found some beautiful girls on the street [to use in our campaigns]. I think probably my biggest strength is something that can’t be taught: I am so naive. I am. I just never think something’s not going to work. I have ideas and I’m like, ‘Why not?’ As soon as everything looks like the biggest disaster, I say ‘Okay, so now what? What do we do now?’ That’s being an entrepreneur.” n
Ali MacGraw; Brown’s office (left)
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“I love everything British,” says Brown, whose office is adorned with items cementing her anglophile status, including an official note to say that Kate Middleton wore Bobbi Brown makeup at her wedding. The City Collection pays homage to London, as well as Paris and New York. Bobbi Brown Limited-Edition City Collection London and Paris palettes ($75 each). For details, see Shopping Guide.