Rejecting beauty trends and rules, makeup artist Violette is all about true artistry.
WHEN MAKEUP ARTIST VIOLETTE SPIES an incredible fabric, her instinct is to bring its qualities to a face. “I try to recreate the texture and colour on the eyelid,” she says, wearing a white T-shirt, mauve satin skirt and delicate gold jewellery, her shaggy brown bangs grazing her eyelashes. “I’ll change the shape of eyeliner to make it more couture, or I’ll blur the edge of a red lipstick to make it feel like the shape of a dress or a fabric.”
Born in Paris and now based in Brooklyn, Violette— who goes by her first name only—was not formally trained in makeup artistry, which she believes she benefited from. “It’s really old school,” she says. “It’s not about inspiration or expressing yourself.” Instead, she studied fashion design and art, the latter training her eye for her future career. “It helped me understand volume in the face and body and how light is supposed to hit the skin,” she says.
Avoiding a more traditional path worked out for her. In 2017, she was appointed global beauty director at Estée Lauder, where she is conscious of the storied American brand’s legacy as well as its founder. “This company was created by a woman in an era when it was impossible for a woman to start a business,” she says. And though she sees herself as “a guest in this house,” she still brings her savoir faire to the brand, especially when it comes to product development.
That’s evident with La Dangereuse, her second makeup collection for Estée Lauder, which was inspired by a quote: “A well-read woman is a dangerous creature.” “I created a story about this fabulous woman in the ’30s in Italy,” she says. “She’s very rich and beautiful and has incredible taste.” Picturing this woman’s closet and home (“satin dresses and velvet curtains”), Violette decided to base every product on these imagined textiles. She ordered “the best” fabric samples from France and Italy, assembled them in a book and then took it to Estée Lauder’s labs in Toronto, where she asked the chemists to match product shades and textures to her swatches.
The result is nine items that Violette says are unrivalled. “You haven’t seen anything on the market like this,” she says. There’s a pot of glitter that is so fine she swears it’s easy to work with and an eye gloss with holographic pigment that you can use as a highlighter. And then there are the eyeshadow palettes: “Blue Dahlia” was inspired by “how the colours of the darkest roses look in the dark—mostly everything turns blue and green,” she says. The palette includes a shade Violette claims is one of the best products she’s ever created. “It’s the perfect velvet mix of black and blue,” she says as she presses her finger into the pigment and strokes it over the back of her hand. “To me, it’s even chicer than wearing a smoky eye or black eyeliner.” The “Amour, Amour” palette features burgundy and copper tones; in fact, she’s wearing one of the shades today. “All of the colours are like foil and fuse with your skin,” she says. And, she insists, they are easy to wear even though they’re strong. “That’s what I’m going to try to show women: how to wear these and feel like yourself.”