MAKE-UP MAVERICK The woman behind the billion-dollar beauty empire talks self-esteem and feminine empowerment. By Ayesha Khan. Photographed by Christopher Sturman.
When Bobbi Brown first came on the scene in the late Eighties, women’s paler than pale faces were sharply contoured and drenched in loud colors. “I tried to do make-up like other make-up artists, but I was just bad,” she laughs. “I couldn’t draw lips, I couldn’t sculpt noses, I couldn’t make girls’ skin look a different colour, it just didn’t make sense to me,” she continues, adding how Naomi Campbell had a few choice words for her upon seeing her first Vogue cover. “She had a signature look. She would do her lips with this very dark pencil and not blend it and put a gloss over it, and I thought that looked really unnatural so I did one colour.” Many make-up artists Bobbi admired even said she’d never get work. But if her billion-dollar company is anything to go by, Bobbi had launched a make-up revolution.
Despite her success, there is one job Bobbi takes more seriously than anything, and that’s wife and mother. In fact, that was the biggest deciding factor when make-up behemoth Estée Lauder offered to buy her brand just four years after it launched. “We’d had other offers, but none of them were right. Leonard Lauder wanted to meet us, and though we weren’t for sale I fell in love with him. He said, ‘I know your family is important to you and that you don’t want to just be this businessperson. What if I told you we could grow your business and you could do what’s important to you?’ Here I am all these years later so the man only speaks the truth!”
This flexibility means part of Bobbi’s workweek is deliberately spent at home. Always the gracious host, she will often take work meetings in this handsome abode, and given its welcoming environs it’s no wonder her staff is willing to make the hour-long commute (she also has a satellite studio moments from her house). “Bobbi is a very warm, down-to-earth person and loves to share her home. The design reflects her needs for keeping the house easy and approachable,” says interior designer Michael Aiduss who helped the family with their most recent renovation. In the kitchen, rustic exposed beams offer a farmhouse appeal. “This house looks old, but it’s under 15 years old. My husband is a developer and everything is brand new, but it looks like it’s 100 years old,” says Bobbi. In the foyer, the deep Bobbi walls with contrasting white wainscoting feature portraits of American presidents procured over the years from online antiques portal 1st dibs. Portraits of dogs line the living and game rooms, where charcoal grey walls and sofas upholstered in Holland and Sherry menswear-inspired fabrics
Bobbi Brown in her drawing room. Tweed jacket, Chanel. T-shirt, J Crew. Necklace, Lulu Frost. Jeans, Zara. Pumps, Saint Laurent
Bobbi’s farmhousestyle kitchen