Supermodels and actresses are our modern icons. We flip through magazines and watch movie after movie. Many of us, when subjected to the harsh reality of the mirror, don’t measure up. Few of us would describe our lives as “glamorous” or “exciting”. Most women who juggle careers and family, leave little time for themselves. While society applauds such women, they need a little reprieve. On occasion, they might splurge on a new outfit, try a different hairstyle, or wander over to the cosmetic department and look for something new.
I decided to ask the esteemed celebrity make-up artist, Victoria Duke for a makeover. Maybe I would get the feel of the “rich and famous”. I had heard Victoria was always flying off to New York to do music videos and award shows. I wondered why celebrities chose her. Was it simply her technical skill – or was there more?
When I first met Victoria, I immediately felt at ease. Her whimsical nature, the twinkle in her eye, and her quick wit promised an afternoon of fun. She welcomed me like a loving mother and led me to her throne-like make-up chair. She commented on my natural beauty. She tilted her head, puffed up my hair while she studied my tired old frumpy look.
Then she spoke, “I see a very assertive, sexy look like Sharon Stone. You know how Sharon wears that sheer pastel veil-like shadow on her lids?” I nodded, though I had never looked closely at Sharon Stone’s eye shadow. “I see that on you. “, she continued, “Maybe a sensual light gloss mouth to accent your great lips.”
I had stopped breathing! Sharon Stone? Victoria saw a resemblance. I looked like, what did she say, assertive, sexy? My mind raced, I felt 10 years younger.
“What do you think?” she asked. “Do you want to try?” Intoxicated with potential super stardom, I nodded. That day I would spend lavishly on cosmetics. As Victoria suggested, I would run to the mall to get sexy tee shirts plus a pair of stilettos. My self-image would radically change.
Later, I thought about my makeover. I asked Victoria if she often compared her clients to celebrities. “Yes, it is a wonderful tool. I have found that women can easily identify with a celebrity. If I help them to identify with a celebrity they admire, who shares similar qualities, it helps them to get in touch with the beautiful woman that lives inside them. “
Victoria continued, “Celebrities are real women who wake up feeling puffy, tired, and broken out. What we see in magazines and film is the product of a collaboration of the efforts of their personal “glam squad”. This creative team of professionals helps create and polish their look. Hair and fashion stylists work together with make-up artists to create the “finished product.” Winona Ryder just didn’t wake up one day looking like Winona Ryder.”
Victoria explained her ‘celebrity look-alike’ approach. “I see real women everywhere who are as beautiful as some of the world’s most admired stars. They just don’t have a team of stylists that help them: first, to see that beauty themselves; and second, to bring it out. Our job as artists is to help them find a way to express their magnificence.”
I asked Victoria if she would share her methodology with other make-up artists. She said she would be honored.
Step one: Looking with Heightened Perception
“A successful make-up artist develops a sense of true vision. It is the ability to see the magic and beauty within each client. It is looking beyond their limitations to their raw potential.”
To find the magic within a client, a make-up artist must go beyond the surface. Victoria’s first step is to “look with heightened perception”. A hurried interview asking a barrage of questions will not suffice. “Where are you going? What are you wearing?" comes later. First, she wants to delve into the client’s essence. Victoria explains, “As a make-up artist, I have learned that beauty is often intangible – a woman’s presence, her confidence, a smile that lights up a room, a melodic voice, bouncy hair.”
To have greater insight, you must be present. Many of us race through our day too harried by an onslaught of tasks to interact with each other with greater awareness. When I met Victoria, she was present in the moment. I had her complete attention.
Step two: Sharing the Vision
After Victoria gets a sense of her client, she shares her vision. She explains how she will enhance the client’s outstanding features, often refering to a celebrity’s look. She draws from personal experience working with celebrities or her constant perusal of magazines and other media. Knowing they share the same qualities as a Hollywood beauty, floods them with confidence and boosts their self esteem.
“You have that all-American radiant beauty,” Victoria begins, “with a great blonde mane and a smile that warms the soul… much like Jessica Simpson. I want to brush on a little bronzer to give you that healthy sun-kissed glow, and some gold shadow to light up your honey colored eyes.”
Step three: Collaboration
Before executing the look, Victoria discusses her ideas and appeals to the client to collaborate with her on the design. “Have you tried a smoky eye look? What do you think?” she asks earnestly. Whether the client is a famous actor or the girl next door, this is a collaboration to create a signature look - a look that captures the woman’s true spirit. Victoria’s skillful interaction makes them participants in their own transformation.
Recently, I witnessed an event orchestrated by Victoria and her ‘glam squad’. There were nine artists. As clients arrived, each was introduced to her artist and then presented to Victoria. She shared her vision, referenced a few celebrities and showed some pictures. She discussed her ideas with each artist and client, even suggesting specific products and colors. The make-up artist then executed the look. Victoria made the rounds, making comments, laughing, giving suggestions. The end result was a lot of happy clients, exhilarated make-up artists and plentiful cosmetic sales.
“Successful make-up artists master much more than technique. They learn to be present and really listen to their clients. They learn to take time to connect and to see the beauty in each woman and help the world see it too. When a client has a likeness to a celebrity, it’s fun to use the same techniques and colors used to create their look. Victoria teaches fledgling make-up artists to be “thinking artists” interacting with their client to create a look that will make them happy. And that’s what the customer came for … to leave with some great make-up… a renewed sense of confidence and direction, but most of all, hope.”
Kathleen Stapleton is a licensed esthetician and makeup artist. She is the owner and director of Cosmix School of Makeup Artistry, a Florida state post-secondary vocational school that prepares Multi-Media Makeup Artists for the Beauty and Entertainment industries. For over 20 years, she has helped professionals develop their own product lines and design successful marketing strategies. She may be reached at Cosmix 800-908-0544
Victoria Duke currently works with celebrities and models on music videos, runway shows, television, concerts, film, and print. She has been a National Artist and Creative Consultant for many international companies. Her talent has been mentioned in Allure, Vogue, Glamour, Elle magazines and on the "Style" channel. She teaches Advanced Makeup Artistry Classes for production artists.