Sunday, 7 August 2011

Ode to a Make-up Artist: Kevyn Aucoin

My teenage experimentation with make-up turned into passion for the art form once I was acquainted with Kevyn Aucoin.

Back in the days there weren't any YouTube Gurus to show you how to do a smokey eye, so when I spotted The Art of Makeup in my local bookstore in 1996, a whole new world was opened to me. I discovered that make-up could be more than just applying mascara and lipgloss or camouflaging acne.
Pictures from

After being discovered by Vogue, Kevyn Aucoin mainly worked with photographer Steven Meisel during the 80s.

He progressed his career when he became Creative Director at Revlon and build up an impressive portfolio working with A-list stars like Janet Jackson, Cher and Julia Roberts. You may have even seen him in the fourth season of Sex & The City, where he starred as himself, doing Carrie Bradshaw's make-up for New York Fashion Week.

Sadly, Kevyn Aucoin died May 7 2002 aged 40, from complications stemming from a rare pituitary tumor.

But enough of the history lesson :-) Why should I care about Kevin Aucoin? Why is he still relevant?

Everytime your favourite YouTube Guru does a celebrity-inspired make-up or another make-up artists launches their own range of cosmetics, remember that Kevyn Aucoin was there first.

While his first book The Art of Makeup still very much covered all your make-up basics, e.g. how to chose and apply foundation, eyebrow shapes, differnt types of eyeliner etc., Aucoin's two later books Making Faces / All About Make-up in 1999 and Face Forward in 2000 introduce us to transformations.

Famously, Aucoin turned celebrities like Winona Ryder into the Elizabeth Taylor of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Gina Gershon into Sophia Loren. With strep-by-step illustrations, you can re-create all the looks from this books in the comfort of your home.
What I love about Kevyn Aucoin's books is that everyone is included. His make-up is not just about celebrities and models. In all of his books, you also see his looks on his mom and sister, friends of all ages, sexes, shapes and skin colour. You name it, he's done it.

My copies of these books are well-tumbed and I still frequently refer to them. However, these books are 
not mere how-tos. As much as they are show-and-tell, they convey that make-up is art, that make-up is fun and that everyone is beautiful.

1 comment:

  1. He was amazing! Face forward was the book that got me really interested in makeup :)