French Lessons

Re­ject­ing beauty trends and rules, makeup artist Vi­o­lette is all about true artistry.

Fashion (Canada) - - People - By Lesa Han­nah

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.”

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