Makeup artist James Vincent recapped New York Fashion Week just as the tumultuous event was winding down. Good-natured and grounded (with a wild sense of humor), Vincent is that perfect mix of industry veteran knowledge and fresh-eyed enthusiasm. He spoke during a pro-seminar at Make Up For Ever's NYC studio with both qualities in full-swing.
The first myth Vincent blew is that fashion week makeup is all about complex, artistic looks: In NYC, the looks have gone as bare as "a little concealer." The Fall forecast is a red lip - both matte and stained - paired with matching cheeks. And little else. The models were made up to appear as if they'd "fallen in snow," with the flush spreading down the cheek. At Marc Jacobs, the red lip "went high school" by pressing the color into the lip for a sheer finish. At Michael Kors, the lip was matte and polished.
There is no one red lip. There are hundreds.
New York is all about classic, understated looks. Go to Milan or Paris, and the Fashion Week makeup gets much bolder. The makeup artist translates each region's sensibilities.
Vincent, a makeup artist for nearly two decades, has done 30 Fashion Week shows. Still, he's not above learning: He took this show as an opportunity to observe Dick Page and Linda Cantello at work and was "in awe."
When he was starting out and working at a MAC counter, he taught a woman how to use lipstick for color correction. That woman turned out to be R&B producer, Pebbles, who had just signed a girl group called TLC. She was so impressed with Vincent's approach that she had him do makeup on the group. Today, Vincent's resume includes the famous faces of Reese Witherspoon, the Black Eyes Peas, Lady Gaga, and Jane Fonda.
Vincent told the group that the best way to break into Fashion Week is to contact an agency at least a season in advance and offer your assistance. Make a professional website showing your work, and keep the wild looks to a bare minimum. Agencies will want to see that you can do clean looks first and foremost. That skill can be built upon.
"Got photos of crazy fake lashes posted? Take them down," he said sternly.
His biggest advice is to present yourself at every turn with professionalism, right down to handwritten thank-you notes. "As an assistant, you're an extension of the makeup artist. By being professional, you show you don't get caught up in drama," he said. "You will make it if people think you're already successful. (Think like) you're a brand."