The master of makeup was as famous for his ability to transform women as he was for his talent to make women look just like themselves - only better. The master of makeup was as famous for his ability to transform women as he was for his talent to make women look just like themselves - only better. Photos by Robin May
There is no such thing as natural beauty."
The wise words of Steel Magnolia's resident beauty operator Truvy Jones have resonated with me since the first time I longed to use real mascara at the age of 12 (not the clear Cover Girl variety my mother allowed). I love makeup. It's one of my favorite things about being a woman. The idea that with the stroke of a brush, the swipe of a new color of lipstick, you can be made over. A new you.
And so when I first opened Kevyn Aucoin's Making Faces I found it impossible to do anything less than pore over each page. Proof that makeup can make you over. It was the late 1990s, and I was living miles away in northwest Arkansas with no idea I would ever call Aucoin's hometown of Lafayette my home. Aucoin, I knew at the time, was already a legend. Now, living in Lafayette and 10 years after his death that persona has only grown taller. The master of makeup was as famous for his ability to transform women as he was his talent to make women look just like themselves - only better.
It's truly a gift. Makeup for people like me is simply fun. Makeup for masters of the craft like Aucoin is nothing short of art. And so, 10 years after the legendary man behind the brushes died, we pay homage to Aucoin with lessons in his signature contouring and holiday makeup. Samuel Richard, himself a fan of Aucoin, did the honors.
"So, you know Kevyn Aucoin," I start when proposing this endeavor.
"We love him," Richard interjects.
"We?" I ask.
"Everyone in the industry," Richard says matter of factly.
And it's true. Perhaps it's the artistry. But, it's certainly more than that. It's the story. That a young man with an extraordinary gift left home and made it in the big city. Heck, made it in the big world. That he packed up his brushes and pursued his dream. And succeeded. Wildly succeeded.
"He inspired me to do this," Richard says of his profession while applying contour lines across my face.
Each line is aimed to accentuate my bone structure. It's a practice that Aucoin perfected in Making Faces years ago and one that until recently had fallen out of vogue for most. But as of late, celebs like Kim Kardashian (we'll consider this her one contribution to humanity) have brought back contouring and the idea that makeup is meant to be seen.
"When I started out in this industry it was all about looking natural," Richard says, noting the scores of women who came through his chair at MAC with a request for makeup that didn't look like makeup.
"That's not the case anymore," Richard says. "People want to look made up."
Women are embracing the bold. Red lips - like the ruby variety he gave me for the holiday look.
"Dark merlot and purple. Purple, purple, purple," Richard says. Yes, even on the lips.
As I'm quizzing Richard about the red lip - we've all heard anyone can wear red as long as it's the right shade; it must be the right shade - he's quick to dismiss how intentional people are with the subtleties of color. With this idea that you can only pull off this one certain shade when you go bold. Richard, you see, believes people should be a little less worried about following rules and a lot more about being fearless. Now, that's a shade that looks good on everyone. Naturally.