Black Magazine - - Director's Cut -


When I sat down to in­ter­view Justin Henry I had a page of ques­tions I couldn’t wait to ask, Justin has had one of those ca­reers in the beauty in­dus­try that most make-up artists or hair stylists can only dream of. I be­gin by men­tion­ing that I re­mem­ber him from liv­ing in mid-90s London and we try to con­nect where it was we might have met. He says it was a crazy time for him, work­ing con­stantly, a blur so­cially, his work was the to­tal fo­cus. “I had one of those lives that wasn’t my own, I was booked 5 months in ad­vance and I worked, like 5000 hours a week”. I ask about his move home to Aus­tralia, his an­swer comes as a stream of con­scious­ness and I re­alise that this chat will be less of an in­ter­view, more of an ac­count of sev­eral ma­jor events in re­cent fash­ion and pop cul­ture his­tory by some­one who was a part of it. I set­tle in and lis­ten to won­der­ful sto­ries about Justin's ca­reer and the mo­ments that have de­fined him and have helped change the way we see make-up and beauty to­day.

Justin was very fo­cused from an early age on his love of fash­ion and beauty, start­ing out in Syd­ney he was frus­trated that no-one would cut him a break so he came to Auck­land in 1989 to shoot for Fash­ion Quar­terly with Derek Hen­der­son and the other bright young things on the New Zealand scene at that time. Justin had al­ways been very in­spired by the work of Hel­mut New­ton and made up his mind that if a fel­low Aus­tralian, with mixed her­itage could have that type of in­ter­na­tional suc­cess, then so too could he. He packed up and headed to Europe where he worked in Paris and Ger­many for mag­a­zines do­ing make-up and hair, which was un­usual at that time, as most teams would be made up of sep­a­rate hair stylists and make-up artists. Dur­ing this time that he met and worked with a bud­ding young su­per­model who just hap­pens to be the cover star of the mag­a­zine that you’re hold­ing. Justin re­calls: “Tyra was 17 or 18 and we worked to­gether on a mag­a­zine shoot.” He must have made an im­pres­sion be­cause years later he posted the pic­tures on his Face­book page and Tyra had this to say in the en­su­ing com­ments; “I re­mem­ber your tal­ent. You blew me away! And you were so in­sanely nice. Me and my Mama were su­per im­pressed with your spirit and com­mand of my make-up and hair. There ain’t many that can paint a face and coif a ‘do. Justin Henry is one of those rare makeup and hair brush tal­ents!” Justin tells me; “I couldn’t be­lieve that it was the real Tyra and that she had an­swered my friend re­quest, and I never ex­pected that re­ac­tion or that com­ment.” A few months after this chance Face­book re­union, Justin was due to go to Amer­ica with Thom Kerr to shoot Kim­bra so he de­cided to ask Tyra if they could shoot her for Black, say­ing, “I haven’t shot with you in so many years, ob­vi­ously you don’t need to, but I’m just go­ing to ask, would you be in­ter­ested in shoot­ing with me?” She said, “I would love to! Tell me when?” So after a bit of crazy sched­ule wran­gling they made it hap­pen. Justin tells me, “She turned up and said, ‘I’m here be­cause I love your work, I’m your can­vas, tell me what you want and I’ll do it.’ She al­lowed me to wax her eye­brows and pull her hair away and put all of th­ese dif­fer­ent wigs on her, she sat there and was just won­der­fuln - no drama, no diva, no sign of a bil­lion­aire mogul, she was present, avail­able, will­ing to try dif­fer­ent out­fits, she was jumping and rolling around. I was so grate­ful and com­pletely in awe of her hum­ble at­ti­tude to mak­ing a strong fash­ion story. We’d say; “Let’s chan­nel Tina Turner 60s rock n roll” and she would just do it. She’s a su­per­model, she un­der­stands. You give her 4 words and she in­ter­prets it straight away, she might be 20 some­thing years in the game but she’s still got it and she’s still rel­e­vant.” He says he was ner­vous she might not like his work, “She looked up after I’d fin­ished a look and said ‘I look re-touched al­ready, awe­some, let’s go!!’ Ob­vi­ously, that’s the re­ac­tion you want, when she’s been made up by the best in the world and she likes what I’ve done.” Justin's hum­ble at­ti­tude is what makes him a joy to lis­ten to - he still re­mem­bers be­ing that “un­known, up-and-com­ing make-up artist from Mel­bourne.” After work­ing for a time in Europe he made the move to New York and ar­rived at the time that Grunge was hit­ting the fash­ion world, things were about to change in a ma­jor way. Justin's equal tal­ent for hair and make-up was a big call­ing card and as the new aes­thetic meant new ways of work­ing on shoots, there were a small group of artists/stylists who were buck­ing the ' 2 in a team' trend at the time. “I was work­ing with all of what were then new girls like Kris­ten Mcme­namy, Am­ber Val­letta and Shalom Har­low on th­ese grunge shoots for Vogue and Made­moi­selle mag­a­zine. They re­ally liked the fact that com­ing from Aus­tralia, I did both hair and make-up and they let me work on shoots do­ing both.” I ask him whose face epit­o­mised that time in his ca­reer, and he tells me that Am­ber Valetta was that face for him. Around this time he was as­sist­ing Fran­cois Nars, who would be mak­ing up the ‘Su­pers’ like Stephanie Seymour, and Ta­tiana Patitz and he would leave the new girls like Am­ber for Justin to make up. This was an amaz­ing learn­ing time for Justin, as­sist­ing and work­ing on the teams of Kevyn Au­coin, Laura Mercier, Bobbi Brown, Nars and watch­ing the way they worked, their en­ergy and tech­niques.

When Jed Root first set up his agency, Justin was the baby. The orig­i­nal roster of tal­ent was pho­tog­ra­pher Michael Thomp­son, Kevyn Au­coin, Dick Page, Ru­miko and Justin Henry. “I was able to see Allure mag­a­zine evolve in the agency and see the first cover of Linda Evan­ge­lista be­fore it was re-touched. I saw the way that Kevyn and Michael worked to­gether to make those cov­ers hap­pen. It was in­spir­ing, see­ing the way that artists like Kevyn would cre­ate the look. But then part of the job is to li­aise with the pho­tog­ra­pher and tell him to ‘clean up that eye­brow, fill in that lip line, tone down the shadow in the left eye it doesn’t match the right’ and just be part of the whole re­touch process, this


was a mas­sive eye opener for me on how you got the end re­sult, in the mag­a­zine.” This broad­ened Justin's un­der­stand­ing of the dif­fer­ences, yet sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween a makeup artist and a cre­ative di­rec­tor al­beit in a time where In­stant film dom­i­nated pro­ceeed­ings. “It was the time of film and Po­laroids. The pic­tures went away to be re­touched, you had to un­der­stand re­touch­ing and talk to the art di­rec­tor and ask if they were re­touch­ing or not be­fore the shoot? If they were: “I’ve got to do it a cer­tain way and if they’re not re­touch­ing then I need to add more or less to get the look I want.” I ask if there is a mo­ment that re­ally sticks in his mind from era? “My very first shoot for Vogue I got to go to St Barts with Car­lyne Cerf de Dudzeele to shoot 14 pages of US Vogue with Christy Turling­ton for the Septem­ber is­sue, which is the is­sue you want to be in. When it came out I went to the newsagent, I opened it and lit­er­ally, was hor­ri­fied. I hated it! She was beau­ti­ful, of course, I can look at it now, but as a make-up artist I wanted her to look more made-up, more glam­orous and here she was look­ing com­pletely raw, nat­u­ral, and at­tain­able. That at­tain­abil­ity was rev­o­lu­tion­ary to other peo­ple but to me as a make-up artist I thought peo­ple would hate it - that I’d never work again. I was young, I didn’t un­der­stand the mas­sive global change that was about to hap­pen, I didn’t get that. I had no idea that I was a part of that, no clue and I was dis­ap­pointed when I would shoot with great girls like Am­ber, Christy, Shalom, I worked with Linda Evan­ge­lista, but al­ways in an edgier, harder, raw more ac­ces­si­ble way and I some­times thought that peo­ple didn’t val­i­date my work, and that they couldn’t see that I could do a re­ally good smoky eye.” Justin de­cided that New York wasn’t giv­ing him what he needed, “So I moved to London and started eat­ing tuna and sweet­corn sand­wiches with Katie Grand in the East End shoot­ing Dazed and Con­fused. When I did this, I was shoot­ing with Rankin, but I didn’t know who Rankin was, I didn’t know what Dazed and Con­fused was go­ing to be and I def­i­nitely had no idea who Katie Grand was!” Once again, Justin was part of a New Move­ment, this time in London. London be­ing what it was, no one was will­ing to give a flash guy from New York, with all of this Vogue in his book, a chance, so he had to start at the be­gin­ning with the new­bies and work his way up. He soon got his break in Europe, shoot­ing for Ital­ian Vogue in Paris with Michel Comte for Jean-paul Gaultier. At that time Justin was in­cor­po­rat­ing grunge skin and hair with black lips or black brows, or tak­ing a black girl and do­ing white eye­liner on her - it was a mix of grunge and mod­ern which at the time was pretty ground­break­ing and worked with the English aes­thetic. He joined Premier Agency in London and started work­ing with pop stars like The Spice Girls, All Saints, Vic­to­ria Beck­ham (be­fore she was Vic­to­ria Beck­ham) and Rob­bie Wil­liams. He worked with Baz Luhrmann on Des’ree’s video I’m Kiss­ing You for the Romeo and Juliet sound­track. Dur­ing this time Justin be­came an ac­ci­den­tal Celebrity Makeup Artist, a time when “all mag­a­zines still had mod­els as their cover stars, prior to the celebrity crazed cul­ture we have now, when do­ing celebri­ties and pop stars wasn’t cool - quite un­know­ingly, once again, Justin was buck­ing a trend. Celebrity reached new lev­els when he was “rec­om­mended by Vogue to be the per­sonal groomer for the Vice Pres­i­dent of the United States, flown to the White House and groom­ing Al Gore in the Oval Of­fice.” When Justin got the call from May­belline to be their World­wide Cre­ative Di­rec­tor he had been re­cov­er­ing from a se­ri­ous ac­ci­dent that could have ended his ca­reer: “It was a high­light in my ca­reer but it was at the same time, a mas­sive per­sonal epiphany. I’d had a very bad ac­ci­dent a cou­ple of years prior where I nearly lost my right hand. I was in hos­pi­tal for four months and I’d had, by that stage, two years of phys­i­cal ther­apy. At the end of all of that May­belline found me through my Paris agent and flew me back from Europe where I was on hol­i­day and ba­si­cally asked me if I would be their Cre­ative Di­rec­tor. I told them what my re­al­ity was in relation to my in­jury and they said; ‘Thank you for your hon­esty we al­ready knew that, we’ve done a lot of re­search on you and we ac­tu­ally want you for your cre­ativ­ity - we can hire a team that can work with you, what we want you to do is over­see the ed­i­to­rial di­rec­tion of May­belline be­com­ing May­belline New York glob­ally and in­cor­po­rat­ing mul­ti­cul­tural aes­thet­ics.” Ba­si­cally, it was my job to re-brand the company. I got to book pho­tog­ra­phers, I chose the aes­thetic of the make-up. In­no­va­tive new prod­ucts were brought to me be­fore they got to mar­ket, so I was able to be on the in­no­va­tive side of things. All of this gave me the self-con­fi­dence after be­ing de­stroyed, you know, I thought just be­cause I have a scar and just be­cause my hand isn’t per­fect any­more, I’m still able to do good work and more im­por­tantly I’m able to come up with con­cepts and make them hap­pen as a Cre­ative Di­rec­tor. Ba­si­cally, that’s what I’ve been do­ing ever since.” So for the 3 years Justin was global Cre­ative Di­rec­tor of May­belline he changed the look and feel of the brand mak­ing it the younger, cooler, edgier brand that it has be­come. He was re­spon­si­ble for the One New York Minute TV cam­paigns shot on lo­ca­tion away from the stu­dio and made the ad­ver­tis­ing con­cepts more Ital­ian Vogue than they had pre­vi­ously been. He booked mod­els like Adri­ana Lima and Erin Was­son to be shot by Stephane Sed­naoui and styled by Patti Wilson on the streets of New York.

I ask Justin which mod­els he is in­spired by at the mo­ment, he tells me that Holly Rose Emery is his cur­rent ob­ses­sion. Thom Kerr and he were cov­er­ing Mercedes Benz Aus­tralian Fash­ion Week for Black last year and ev­ery­time she came out at each show with a dif­fer­ent look or hair-do he would point to her and say to Thom, “Who’s That girl?!” Thom would say” That’s that same girl again J, what’s wrong with you why can’t you recog­nise her?” Justin would say “I don’t know but I love her!” I guess he was on trend be­cause look at what hap­pened.. When he first laid eyes on Holly he thought she was fab­u­lous, in the same way he did with Am­ber all those years ago. He thinks that she has a “com­pli­cated but sim­ple strong look”, she doesn’t need hair and make-up, she’s stun­ning and gor­geous but then she can morph into any­thing you want her to be, she has that amaz­ing blank can­vas that you can add to. A year after first see­ing her at the shows in Aus­tralia Justin got to shoot with Holly Rose in New York for BLKONBLK and of course the images were stun­ning. As our Aus­tralian ed­i­tor in Mel­bourne Justin has de­liv­ered some stun­ning images and im­por­tant sto­ries to Black Mag­a­zine. He tells me about how he came to be part of the team, “My agent at the time said you should check out this mag­a­zine Black, it’s quite edgy, it’s pretty cool I think you’ll like it. I bought it and I thought fuck this is awe­some. I had the op­por­tu­nity to bring An­drej Pe­jic to the mag­a­zine for a cover and that was the be­gin­ning of Rachael and Grant and my­self work­ing to­gether. They were the first peo­ple down here to thor­oughly embrace my his­tory and ap­pre­ci­ate the fact that I’d come from noth­ing and built my­self up and then de­cided to come back home, be a nor­mal per­son and still do what I do. They ac­cept my work and like what I do and they know that I’m more than just lip­stick and mas­cara and a side pony­tail, they un­der­stand that I’ve had this amaz­ing his­tory.” It is an amaz­ing his­tory up to this point, but it’s not over yet, Justin Henry con­tin­ues to use his unique visual lan­guage to cre­ate stun­ning work.

www.justin­hen­ry­beauty.com www.vivien­scre­ative.com.au/justin­henry

Justin with Linda Evan­ge­lista at Am­ber Valetta's wed­ding

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