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Which One Are You?

posted by Wendy August 31, 2016 0 comments

I’ve been in the UK for most of the summer – all over the country, in cities and towns and villages, observing women and girls of all ages and from all walks of life. It seems to be that their make-up styles can be categorised into five groups, which is perhaps a generalisation but that is, after all, what people do when they observe other people.


The Carefree or Couldn’t Care Less

They are makeup-less, or carefree or both. Neither caring nor wanting to present themselves in a certain way. I do not judge them, but it is pointless spending too much time on them for my purposes here. I do wish them well. And think of all the money they’ll save! Although research has shown that they may miss out on other things financial and may even not earn as much long-term as those that present themselves in a more polished way at work. True.

The Clueless  They might be in the above category but maybe they don’t attempt much because they don’t know how to. I meet more of these women (and girls and boys) in my non-working makeup life than any of the others. They ask a lot of questions and have a great interest but not much confidence. Yet.

She's found her look and it's fab

She’s found her look and it’s fab

The Lucky Ones

The ones that have found their best look, perhaps by helpful intervention at some point in their lives, or are self-taught. They use makeup to their advantage, presenting the best version of themselves, without hiding  behind it.

The Eccentrics  The really independently British girls and women who wear originality on their faces and on their bodies, displaying a certain flair that I find essentially British but that has nothing to do with race – again of all ages and places and so interesting. They make me happy to think about the confidence they have or are developing and the music and fashion choices that will ultimately make up the whole picture of their lives. They are not stuck in one particular style – they might be the retro girls, the glams, or the new punks – but are claiming it for their own. Their look will probably morphe many times in their lives as their stories progress. This group is really my favourite, for all those reasons and because it’s like looking back into my own 80’s youth and seeing the fun we had with makeup and what it could mean to us in our tribalistic tendencies (then it was New Romantic, Soul Girl, Mod, post-punk, office girl, not necessarily in that order or independent of one another). I think it’s a very British phenomenon. I don’t see it anywhere else.

kateb youngviv

Zandra Rhodes, then

Zandra Rhodes, then

adamantZandra Rhodes, Adam Ant, Siouxie Sioux, Isabella Blow, Kate Bush, Toyah Wilcox and the grandmother of them all, Vivienne Westwood, all used make-up to tell their stories in a wonderfully eccentric but beautiful way. Not necessarily how you want to look but I admire their strength and how they use their image to create it. There is a new breed of these women, thankfully. The torch has been passed and some interesting women are running with it…

Florence Welsh, one of the fabulous new Eccentrics

Florence Welsh, one of the fabulous new Eccentrics

crazycontourThe Dolls  This final group is the most worrying to me, and the most boring at the same time. The super-contoured, mega-highlighted, lip-lined, false-eyelashed dollface girl with the perfect (but not) eyebrows of massive proportion. I see loads of white shiny pencil trails all over these girls. And sigh. Because I can’t see where the real girl, and so her real beauty starts, only where it ends. I wonder what each one look likes Underneath It All (cue song) because there is such a conformity in their faces that the individual is lost. It’s a terrible shame, and a dangerous one; call me a feminist makeup artist. For me makeup has always been about finding the best -looking version of ourselves, not about putting masks on women and telling them to look the same. Obviously this happens to some extent in the beauty and cosmetics industry, we follow trends or emulate women we admire. Film stars, musicians and sometimes princesses have been the modern beauty trend-setters but I find the new breed of beauty queens (you know who they are) strangely disturbing and anti-individuailstic. Anyone can go online to see how to disappear themselves behind mega-makeup applications.  I saw one recently which was about how to contour your nose with a FORK. I kid you not. And it’s really ugly. It’s a look reliant on wearing enormous quantities of makeup, (lots of it very shiny) which inevitably breeds strong makeup dependency issues, and I wonder what will happen as these girls and young women grow up and grow older? Will the day come when they get rid of it all and opt for none or a pretty, natural look?  Or will they go on wearing the lashes and contour into their old age.

Whatever Happened to…too much makeup?

Whatever Happened to…too much makeup?


I’m waiting for some serious makeup rehab issues in about four years when, fingers crossed, everyone will tire of the hideousness. I’m going to set up a help line.

1 800 266 8687 (CON TOUR)


Love Story: All About Ali MacGraw

posted by Wendy February 25, 2016 0 comments

It cannot be denied that I am presently in love with all things 70’s. I can’t really trace this obsession back to one particular thing, but perhaps Cameron Crowe’s “Dazed and Confused” played a part in it, because the style of that film so grabbed my attention that I watch it at least once a year. It also seems to me that the female icons of that era possessed a kind of glamour and style that was original and different, and so I still look to those women for beauty and fashion inspiration. On a purely psychological level, it may be because my mum was in her heyday in the seventies, and those are my earliest memories of her, all kaftan and curly hair. Whatever the reasons for my love of the style, I proudly don a flare and do not apologise for it.

My "Love Story" flares and a clog. Sometimes I am really dazed and confused.

My “Love Story” flares and a clog. Sometimes I am really dazed and confused.

Of all of the fashion and film icons of that time (the ones we historically take our beauty cues from in the modern ages) there are a few that stand out for me, one of them being Ali McGraw.


Ali McGraw reached international fame in 1970’s “Love Story”, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress and won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama. In 1972, MacGraw was voted the top female box office star in the world.


In the 1970’s Ali McGraw was the ultimate All-American natural beauty. Usually tanned and freckled, lightly made-up for the most part, with glossy brunette hair, she represented a carefree and shiny beauty that was both the height of high fashion and the domain of everywoman.


In later life she became a yoga devotee and is credited with popularising the form of exercise and spiritual discipline in North America. At the age of 75 she is still an absolute stunner, and so she gives us this gift: no need to disappear, no need to stop caring about or for ourselves as we get older. I think Ali McGraw is a true inspiration for many generations at once…


…and has undoubtedly remained a beauty icon all her life. All hail Ali!



Joy for Jennifer Lawrence

posted by Wendy January 25, 2016 0 comments

For me, Jennifer Lawrence represents what is best in modern Hollywood. She is a true radiant beauty, and thoroughly unique. Not for her the cookie-cutter look, nor is she a slave to the one hair style (well, I can talk, but I’ve only recently grown my hair long!) we see everywhere. She is a really modern and fresh style icon, so she gets Top Marks for Inspiration. Not to mention she is a fantastic talent and a chameleon on screen. Anyone who can pull off the make up and hair and jersey dresses of American Hustle without looking self-conscious gets an Inspiration Award. At only twenty-five, I think she will bring us lots of lovely for years to come.


Jla2"The Hunger Games" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals

P.S Jennifer, when you read this, (note I say WHEN and not IF), call me, because sometimes you just don’t get the eyes exactly right. Just saying. it’s not your fault, it’s your people xo

P.S later in 2016, after this was written, Jennifer starred in a lovely film, by the name of “Joy”.


Make Up Forever and Dany Sanz

posted by Wendy January 18, 2016 0 comments

Last week I was invited to attend a presentation by Dany Sanz of  MAKE UP FOREVER. I did not really feel much like going out. Honestly, I was in full Bowie Bereavement mode but decided to do something good for myself and get out of the house and away from all the music I was listening to, which was bringing great joy for the gifts he gave us, but also buckets of tears at the loss. So I touched up my makeup, and off I went on a very rainy night (not good for the hair) to the Curlique makeup store in downtown Vancouver which was hosting the evening. I even found rock-star parking which was a sure sign I was meant to be there.

This was my seat. Oooh la la

Je suis dans la front row. Oooh la la

I have long been a fan of the MAKE UP FOREVER line, which is a fantastic French pro brand that gives me every colour under the sun if I need it, and a host of products no other company makes.  I am very glad that I didn’t miss this event. Not only did it cheer me up, it inspired me when I really needed it.

Dany Sanz is a sixty-nine year old powerhouse with gingersnap hair, a Parisian makeup artist who started her career while the Glam Rock movement was in full swing, lucky lady! She is tiny like a bird but with such immense energy, intelligence and wit that she fills a room.


Dany Sanz sharing stories of her life and work

This is what I learnt about her and her work…

Like me, Dany Sanz never had any intention of becoming a makeup artist, also like me, was unaware of it as a job when she was young. Ok that’s enough about me. She came from a poor working-class family, showing a  great talent for art as a child and went on to study fine art and painting, later stumbling into a career in makeup. During the 1970’s she was painting sets for a play, and one of the actors in the production needed to be painted to look like a white mask. As she recalls, the makeup artists there were classically trained, and didn’t know how to do it, but she did. Within a few years, fashion magazines were hiring her to paint clothes from the collections onto models’ bodies, and soon after that designers began requesting her to do this during collection seasons. As a trained painter influenced by the masters, she brought her knowledge of colour and texture to a marketplace when there was no one else doing this and carved out a unique career for herself.

Dany set up (and began to teach at) the Ecole Chauveau makeup school in Paris, and started making products using her kitchen mixer because those that were in existence at the time were pretty poor in quality, and she and her new students and were in need of different things. Again, her painting training aided her in this, and a line of professional products was born. As more and more makeup artists and students began to request the products, and their production line grew, Dany and her husband Jacques Waneph, launched MAKE UP FOREVER, the name of which came about over a few bottles of red wine. According to her, it sounded better in English than in French! That was in 1984. The pair opened their first boutique at 5 rue de la Boétie in September of that year. Dany designed and drew the logo herself.

Dany’s philosophy is a beautiful thing. Above all she emphasizes the importance of education, and generosity of information. These things are indeed gifts. She is ever grateful for her own teachers and consequently passes on her knowledge to all who want to learn it. Two of France’s superstar makeup artists, Stephane Marais and Tom Pecheux, are former students of hers.

Dany shared a sweet story of the stress that went along with success in business; her immense feelings of responsibility for the livelihood of her employees and their families as the brand grew and grew and her worry about making mistakes in business. She has followed the opportunities that arose in her life, emphasizing the need for a real strength of spirit due to the competitiveness of the business. Despite all her success she remains a hands-on artist with a true humility instead of a superego. Unlike me.

Dany body painting for the audience

Dany sharing technique with the audience

Today the line is under the umbrella of LVMH which acquired the brand in 1999 and accelerated its growth. Although still hugely popular with professionals for it’s HD Foundations and concealers, it is no longer just a pro-line, but available to everyone through retail outlets and online. The label, which is sold in 50 countries, opened its second Paris boutique, which is less of a pro store and more for all make up fanatics, in the Marais. Make Up Forever does huge business with Asian markets, most notably Korea, without which, she says, the label would not be the cult beauty brand it has become. Dany Sanz, with all her tenacity and talents, has made MAKE UP FOREVER a huge success story.

My most recent makeup starring Make Up Forever, for a masquerade party

My most recent makeup starring Make Up Forever, for a masquerade party

There are jobs I could not have completed without this line.  At work, I am an obsessive labeller of all my supplies. My MAKE UP FOREVER products are in an area labelled “Unicorn Corner“. This makes my assistants laugh (“it’s in Unicorn Corner!”), which is no bad thing. Glitter, rhinestones, creams in a billion colours, glow-in-the-dark powders, feather eyelashes, star powders, dry pigments…all these are from the company I most often turn to when called upon to create something out of the ordinary. Beautifully, all the stuff I use to do a full Glam Rock make-up comes from the woman who started her career at that time. Which is why I love it.

I was once called upon to do a fluorescent makeup. There was only one company to call: MAKE UP FOREVER

I do love a balloon. As spotted at the event last week

I do love a balloon. As spotted at the event last week

All in all it was a fabulous evening. Even the parking ticket didn’t bother me (well it was rock-star parking after all and still cheaper than valet). The night gave me some much-needed positivity and she even answered my question about how Bowie inspired her work. A good way to kick off the new year in make up. And out of it.




Happy Birthday to the Man Who Fell To Earth and then Sold The World

posted by Wendy January 8, 2016 3 Comments

Happy Birthday to Mr Bowie. On this day, the 69th birthday of Mr David Bowie, let’s celebrate how much of a true inspiration he has been to western fashion and makeup culture.


He is Glam. He is Rock.

He started it all. And then some.

David Bowie is so many things…an icon, an innovator, a cult figure.

I have a personal history with him, so to speak. Growing up a few streets away from where he did, in Bromley slash Sundridge Park in southeast London, it was impossible not to know who David Bowie was or what he meant to the place. He was our brightest star. My friends went to the same school as him (much later of course!), we drank in the same pubs he used to play in, and I even got married in the same registry office where he and Angie tied a knot in 1970. His wedding hair was better than mine.

David and Angie get married in Bromley, 1970

David and Angie get married in Bromley, 1970

Bowie started in pop music in the 1960’s and then stepped into his own spotlight in the 1970’s as a pioneer of the Glam Rock movement.  He has been Aladdin Sane, Ziggy Stardust, The Thin White Duke, The Man who Fell to Earth, The Man who Sold the World but always An Absolute Beginner. He is an absolutely iconic figure of pop culture and a Master of Imagery, in a  pre-Madonna world. Pre-Madonna, not prima donna.

A Hunky Dory, 1973

A Hunky Dory, 1973

He has been a true innovator for forty-odd years, and whether you are aware of it or not, has probably had a direct or indirect influence on how you look at some point. It is fair to say that he has created the biggest cult in pop culture in an amazing career marked by reinvention, innovation and visual presentation.

He has been all these things and continues to shiftshape.

Boys Keep Swinging. 1979

Boys Keep Swinging. 1979

I very recently read about a “new” trend for blue eyeshadow. Beg to differ. Bowie was NEW.  He pushed the boundaries for men and women and developed visual styles all his own, leading the way for the ones that followed. He took androgyny to new levels and changed our views about the possibilities.

Not to mention what great ideas you can get from him if you consult the Bowie Style Catalogue. It could keep you busy for years. Speaking of busy, I am off to the shops. The birthday genius has a new album out today.

How girls from Bromley do Halloween (2015)

How girls from Bromley do Halloween (2015)


BLACKSTAR is released today

BLACKSTAR is released today




posted by Wendy January 3, 2016 0 comments

That any of us should look like this at sixty! Iman, a Somali-American, is a beauty in the truest sense of the word, from inside out and around the world. She is a true inspiration in beauty and business, a mother of two and engaged in global charity work.

Iman at sixty in 2015

Iman at sixty in 2015

Iman was discovered by photographer Peter Beard, while she was at university in Africa, and moved to the United States to begin a modelling career. Her first assignment was for Vogue a year later in 1976; she landed some of the most prestigious magazine covers, becoming one of the first generation of “supermodels”. She was an instant success in the fashion world, though she herself insists that her looks are merely or typically Somali. Yves Saint-Laurent once described her as his “dream woman”.

Iman in YSL

Iman in YSL

Iman runs her own immensely successful line of cosmetics for women of colour, bringing that to the market when little else was available, changing  the marketplace for us all by enriching it.

She is actively involved in a number of charitable endeavours, such as the Keep a Child Alive program and the Children’s Defense Fund as well as being an Ambassador for Save the Children. Not your average model! And certainly not your average 60 year-old. She not only looks beautiful, she does beautiful, for other people.

Not to mention she’s married to ….Mr David Bowie, who changed the look of generations of men and women with his pioneering use of characters in performance, a Makeup God in is own right, and from Bromley, enough said! He will be getting his own page, obviously!


Jerry Hall

posted by Wendy December 30, 2015 2 Comments

I do think it is important to have knowledge of those who have gone before us and shaped our fashion and social culture. Enter Jerry Hall, circa 1975, who had IT, still has IT, and will have IT till the day she doesn’t. I can’t do her justice in five minutes. There will be lots about makeup history on the blog because it fascinates me and got me started in this crazy biz, but for now, be inspired by Jerry on New Year’s Eve, cos that girl was glamour all the way and I can guarantee she went to some great parties!

If I ever meet her I will have to quiz here on why she left Bryan Ferry for Mick Jagger. Come on Jerry! That’s madness. Which one looks better in a suit? We all know the answer to that xo


MakeUp Moments

posted by Wendy November 21, 2015 0 comments

I call my Debbie Harry memory one of my makeup moments.  I’ve had many more, as I am sure many of you have, and funnily enough, since I’ve been referring to them as that, I’ve found out that other people do too. Can you remember a moment or memory that has shaped how you feel about makeup, good or bad? Would love to hear about them.

Here’s some more that spring to mind:

  • Buying my first ever Chanel quad eyeshadow at duty-free even though I was a university student on a tight tight budget. The palette contained white, grey, pink and black matte shadows, tres chic, and saw me through more than a year of sophisticated studying, i.e., going down the pub with some books. I wore the shadows with a pink Chanel lipstick, which probably cost me a whole day’s wages from my part-time job, but I was looking gooooood haha. The look went better with my pink Converse then the oxblood Dr Martens and SWP pamphlets. I still have the compact.

the classic Chanel compact

  • Watching my mum apply lipstick; the faces she pulled to do so and copying her, much to her irritation; funnily enough I am quite sure I now make the same faces myself. There’s something about putting your eyeliner on that calls for a really monstrous facial expression!    My mum wore a beautiful creamy beige Revlon lipstick. I wish they still made it.
  • Choosing my wedding makeup. A rite of passage in western culture that otherwise has very few ceremonial landmarks for women.
  • Being told by my very glamourous Auntie Cynthia, who was a huge inspiration to me in terms of her personal style: “never let them see you without it” and she never did, waking up earlier then her husband to make sure she “had her eyes on”. Not exactly how I live, but she was quite fabulous and I appreciate her ethic.

The reason I think these makeup moments are important is because they are significant and personal and may or may not point us in certain directions.  I went through a period when I believed that using makeup and thinking about how we looked or wanted to look was a frivolous thing that didn’t matter and shouldn’t play a part in my life.  I was becoming a feminist (I still am one) and had personal appearance tied up with gender inequality.  It took a return from a six month journey through India to change my mindset about that, to see it for what it is; a means of enjoyment, adornment and even empowerment, that has existed in civilizations for eons, for both men and women. It represents us both physically and culturally, it is informed by where we are in our lives and where we are in the world, and that’s why it’s still around and we love it.  It’s a way of reaching our femininity, and so let’s celebrate it. I think makeup is part of The Art of the Female.  I think that makeup is a tool.  So use it, whatever your reasons.


And So It Began….

posted by Wendy November 21, 2015 0 comments

I went to a strict, but fantastic, girls school in suburban London. Makeup verboten! But try stopping teenage girls of the ’80’s from experimenting with makeup. Impossible. The mascara would go on on the way to school. And you’d be in trouble if any teacher noticed you wearing it. But everyone needs mascara, right? I still feel that way, it would be my desert island necessity (along with a an enormous pair of sunglasses and loads of sunscreen). I feel blessed to have grown up in a time in London when inspiration was incredible and all around me, and though makeup wasn’t in any way the most important thing about my life, it became a pretty great aspect of it as I grew up.

My real adventures in makeup started before my teenage years ….and I would have to say my first significant makeup moment was on a Thursday in 1979 when something quite amazing happened. Thursday was Top Of The Pops night, and you just couldn’t miss it, it was brilliant and most importantly, you had to know who was going to be Number One in the pop charts; this was something to really look forward to, believe me!

So on this Thursday night, a vibrant, unbelievably gorgeously urbane girl appeared on the screen. The incomparable Debbie Harry and Blondie. She was not perfect, but beautiful and so unlike any of those Hollywood stars because she appeared to be real, which meant her look was attainableto me and my friends. She blew our minds. And led to my first cosmetics must-have. A red roller-ball lipgloss. Readers, I nicked it, not because that was my usual behaviour but because we didn’t have much money and I didn’t get pocket money, but I had to have that lipgloss. Do not try this at home. I got caught, which to this day I am grateful for, and into enormous trouble.

The lipgloss was not allowed at school or even at home but I did wear it secretly whilst dancing round my room to “Heart of Glass”. And so it began. Not the shoplifting, which I never tried again, but my love of makeup and all it could do.