How tickled I am by the Queen of Slap
Charlotte Tilbury – flamehaired master of the smoky eye, creator of countless Vogue cover looks, and Kate Moss’s best mate – is searching my face with the fervour of an iris-recognition scanner at Heathrow.
“Oh my GOD I am DESPERATE to put make-up on you!” she shouts. “You’ve got great eyes – they’re hazel but I could make them look really green! Your eyes could morph!” And she’s off, grabbing an eye palette from the stack of products in front of us and chatterboxing away about colour combinations.
In her 20 years as a makeup artist, Tilbury has made her name transforming women into unreserved glamazons. She’s the magician who gives Mossy her trademark feline eye and nude lip, Adele her peachy sheen, J-Lo her A-list goddess glow. Now, keen to impart her wisdom to the rest of us, she’s bringing out her own range of cosmetics – and I’m first in the firing line.
“Fifty per cent of women in this country don’t engage with makeup, and that is a huge disaster,” Tilbury says, looking flummoxed as she covers my hand in smudges of lipstick. “Women are not using that secret weapon to make themselves look gorgeous and feel better. I think lots of them are scared of looking stupid, they don’t know which colours to match or how much to put on, but beauty is not this exclusive club shrouded in secrecy – everyone can look beautiful!”
Tilbury, 40, is wonderfully, unashamedly high-maintenance. Feminist fatwas about narcissism don’t wash with her. So wedded is Tilbury to her slap that she doesn’t even take it off at night. “I take my skin off but I don’t take my eyes off,” she declares. Does she not wake up with panda eyes? “No, it’s just a little bit rock ‘n’ roll-looking.”
But surely there must be days when she can’t be bothered with the faff of it all? “That is never an option. It’s like, why would I not look fabulous? People can criticise me for it but it’s the goddamn truth! I look much better with make-up on and it makes me feel good.”
Tilbury grew up in Ibiza, the daughter of a painter father and a location scout mother. Her childhood sounds bohemian – full of beach parties with the Rolling Stones and Freddie Mercury – but it wasn’t until she enrolled at boarding school in England that she became educated in the transformative powers of make-up.
She came back to Ibiza after her first term, aged 13, sporting mascara, eyeliner and lip gloss. “Everyone, from seven-year-olds to 70-year-olds, reacted to me in a totally different way,” she says. “They all said, ‘Don’t take offence but you’re suddenly so attractive!’
On the lash: Charlotte Tilbury. ‘I look better with make-up on and it makes me feel good,’ she says