Bri­tish make-up artist Charlotte Til­bury sits down with Sarah Maisey to share sto­ries gath­ered over a 25-year ca­reer

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Meet­ing Charlotte Til­bury; and five tech de­vel­op­ments in beauty

It’s hard not to like Charlotte Til­bury. Makeup artist to the stars, instigator of count­less make-up trends and, since 2013, founder of a much-loved, epony­mous make-up brand, she is also a hu­man whirl­wind. Whether she’s talk­ing about lip­stick, shoots in the desert or Jen­nifer Lopez’s con­tour­ing, she is so en­thu­si­as­tic and an­i­mated that it is im­pos­si­ble not to get swept along.

Any­one who has held even a pass­ing in­ter­est in fash­ion mag­a­zines over the past 25 years will be fa­mil­iar with Til­bury’s work. A vet­eran of in­nu­mer­able fash­ion shoots, she has worked along­side some of the big­gest names in the in­dus­try.

Mario Testino, Mert and Mar­cus, Kate Moss, Mi­randa Kerr, Vic­to­ria Beck­ham and Kim Kar­dashian are some of the names that trip off her tongue, but I am still taken aback to learn that she was the make-up artist be­hind a 2002 shoot en­ti­tled Cast­away Kate in

Bri­tish Vogue that sparked my own in­ter­est in fash­ion. It starred a young Moss, whose bronzed skin (from her lips to her eye­lids to her arms) was so beau­ti­fully matte that it trig­gered a trend for nude lips and matte skin that ex­ists to this day. “Back then, there were no tan­ning prod­ucts,” Til­bury says with a laugh. “To get the skin colour I wanted, I had to mix Ben Nye and Guer­lain, and then I lit­er­ally im­printed the mix onto her body with cot­ton wool. It took three hours. I wanted her to look nat­u­rally bronzed, gor­geous and nat­u­ral. For her beige lip in the shoot, which I called Nude Kate, I was us­ing con­cealer, a pinky lip­stick and a bit of a brown­ish lip­stick – it was a con­coc­tion. And it set off a mas­sive trend. A er­wards, ev­ery­one was ask­ing me: ‘Can we get that lip?’ So prod­ucts were be­ing born with­out me re­al­is­ing.”

With an ap­proach to make-up that she her­self de­scribes as “alchemy”, Til­bury hap­pily mixes prod­ucts to get the pre­cise colour or tex­ture she is look­ing for. “Make-up artists have se­crets and tricks that we keep to our­selves, and it’s part of the rea­son we are booked. Magic Cream is where it all started for me. I was work­ing with a lot of celebri­ties, and they would come off planes, ex­hausted and de­hy­drated. How do I make them look gor­geous in un­der an hour? It be­came so fa­mous back­stage – it was then known as ‘se­cret cream’ – that make-up artists, celebri­ties and mod­els all wanted it. When I launched my YouTube chan­nel, I re­alised I couldn’t do it with­out my Magic Cream. When we went on sale in Sel­fridges, we had about 200 peo­ple queu­ing to buy it, and it’s still one of our best­sellers.”

Hav­ing spent years de­vel­op­ing tricks and short­cuts, Til­bury is now keen to share her knowl­edge. Aware that many women feel in­tim­i­dated by the sheer range of make-up prod­ucts avail­able on the mar­ket, her aim is sim­ply to help women feel more con­fi­dent. “All of my prod­ucts come from me want­ing to steal a celebrity’s DNA and put it a bot­tle,” Til­bury ex­plains. “My Won­derGlow Skin Care Primer is like shrink­ing Gisele Bünd­chen and putting her in a jar. She looks lit from within, glow­ing and gor­geous. So I wanted some­thing that would do good for your skin, and make you look very glowy. Jen­nifer Lopez is the con­tour­ing queen. It’s an old Hol­ly­wood trick, and when I worked with her, it was all about cheek­bones, high­lighter and fa­cial ar­chi­tec­ture. Film­star Bronze & Glow is some­thing I wanted to give to women in an easy for­mat. The whole thing is about democratis­ing makeup and com­ing up with a so­lu­tion. This was all about tak­ing my tips and tricks from the run­ways and red car­pets, and giv­ing it to real women.”

Aside from work­ing on count­less fash­ion ed­i­to­ri­als, creat­ing red-car­pet looks for celebri­ties – Kerr, Kar­dashian, Ni­cole Kid­man and Si­enna Miller are all devo­tees – and do­ing the make-up for both Moss and Amal Clooney’s nup­tials, Til­bury is also the brain be­hind the launch of make-up lines for He­lena Ru­bin­stein, Gior­gio Ar­mani, Alexander McQueen and MAC. “I cre­ated the whole Tom Ford line with Tom Ford,” she con­fides.

The UAE’s first stand-alone Charlotte Til­bury store is due to ar­rive in The Dubai Mall early next year. Open­ing along­side stores in Kuwait and Bahrain, it prom­ises to of­fer the same ex­pe­ri­ence as her Lon­don flag­ship. “We are creat­ing a Beauty Won­der­land,” she says. “I wanted to cre­ate an old-school theatre that’s fun. You can come in and get a quick fe­line flick, or a five-minute smoky eye. I wanted to cre­ate dif­fer­ent ar­eas, a juice bar and a boudoir area, which is like Marilyn Monroe’s dress­ing area. There will be amaz­ing artists and pri­vate ses­sions for VIPs.”

The Dubai store may be new, but Til­bury is no stranger to the UAE. She tells the tale of her first-ever visit to the coun­try – and like most of the make-up mae­stro’s sto­ries, it’s a good one. “I came here 13 years ago, when Dubai was just emerg­ing. It was Kate Moss, Naomi Camp­bell, Mert and Mar­cus, Karen El­son, Am­ber Val­letta and me, in the mid­dle of the desert, shoot­ing the Louis Vuit­ton spring cam­paign. There was noth­ing here then. It was like the Wild West.”


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