Photo: Courtesy of MAC
How did you get your start in this industry?
"I fell into the industry by pure chance, really. I was a hairdresser and I used to wear tons of makeup — tons, and tons, and tons — and photographers kept saying to me, 'Oh, you should do makeup.' I was a bit reluctant, and then one day the makeup artist didn't turn up. So, I had to do the makeup, and that shoot ended up being in a magazine in Australia. Then people just started booking me. I made a lot of mistakes because I'm self-taught, so in the beginning I would make everybody look like me — they always had big, black eyebrows and very black, heavy, sooty eyes — but it's only by making mistakes that you learn. As time went by, I kind of refined and honed my craft."
And how did you get involved with MAC?
"It the early '90s and I was doing Paul Smith's show, and Gordon [Espinet, MAC's senior vice president of makeup artistry] came to see me and sort of said, 'Look, we'd like to sponsor you. Use our makeup.' I think I had about 18 - 20 models, and MAC provided me with the makeup, and I just did all the models myself. I think I really got to work with them [consistently] when they used to sponsor Lee [Alexander] McQueen, his shows were when I first used a team from MAC. We've just had a fantastic, happy, long relationship because their guys are really good and are really well-trained. In the beginning I would resist them: 'No, no, I have to use my own makeup artists. We know what we're doing.' But, pretty soon I realized that they are there to support me and my vision, and that's brilliant."
What is it about MAC products that you in particular like, and why do you think it appeals to such a large, passionate audience?
"Well, they've got the technology behind their product. When you pick up an acid green eyeshadow, you know it's going to work. Nowadays, you can pick up some beautiful, they-look-great-in-the-palette products, and you dip your brush in it and it all breaks up. So, what I'm trying to say is the product delivers — it delivers so that's why people go back to it again and again.
Is there a certain category within the products that you particularly love?
"I love the Mineralize Foundation. I'm using that a lot of that at the moment. I like the finish I get with it — a kind of like satin finish with coverage. It's a very easy foundation to use. I love all their shadows and powders, and there's a great range of cream color bases. In my work, editorially, I use a lot of cream colors. They've got such a damn big range! They do cover everything. Their pencils are great, but I can't believe they're discontinuing one of my favorite pencils, Indigo."
Ooh, that's a slippery slope. We've seen MAC really do a bigger push into nails, is that something you like to see as a makeup artist?
"I love nails, I love the variety, and I love changing it up. In London, they are mad for nails. In Australia, mad for nails. And, we went to L.A. and it's amazing how even though there's a lot nails, there's a lot of nude. I thought that was kind of bizarre. In L.A. there's a lot of full-on dressing, there's a lot of exposed skin, there's a lot of short skirts, high heels, and then, these nude nails."
Is there anything you think shouldn't come back, ever?
"I don't really like too much of a tan. I like a real tan, but I don't like an orange tan. You do still see a lot of that, unfortunately."