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As stay-at-home orders halted editorial work and fashion productions, Neil Young found himself in the position of many other makeup artists–stuck at home without any models on which to exercise his craft. Inspired by hairdressers who have taken to giving cuts and colors to mannequins in quarantine, Young decided to order his own and try his hand at mannequin makeup. With these completely blank, inanimate canvases, the makeup artist has brought the faces to life with vivid colors, sparkling textures, and skillful application. While they may not compete with Young’s over two decades of experience working with real-deal fashion figures for magazines, campaigns, and runways, the mannequins have presented a new outlet for creativity during this time. “In fashion it’s mostly lip balm, great skin, a brushed-up eyebrow at the very most, and occasionally you get to throw a red lip or smudgy eyeliner on there,” Young tells CR. “So when I first started doing the mannequins, I [decided] I’m going to do all of the things I’ve never been able to do, or even wanted to do, and express myself in ways I don’t normally get to express myself.”
Here, he shares how he’s had to adapt his skills for a new type of face, what it’s like working with Donatella Versace, and why makeup artists should never stop learning.
With the mannequin series you’ve started during quarantine, a lot of the looks are very theatrical when it comes to saturated tones and color contrasts. What gravitated you towards those?
“Color is such an emotive medium to play with and it evokes so many things. I’ve always been fascinated with color. I love the idea of color and texture. With the mannequins, I’ve been able to combine those passions in one. As long as it’s beautiful, I don’t mind if it’s abstract or conceptual, but it needs to make me happy and hopefully somebody else who is looking at it.”
Have there been any challenges with doing makeup on the mannequins?
“They have limitations. It’s very hard to blend on them. You can only do things that are graphic or require some kind of intensity to the technique. That’s been interesting, how to navigate the mannequin with the makeup products I use. I have to be quite smart in how I layer the makeup and build it up to create a texture that reacts like skin and absorbs whatever I put on top of it. But it’s far easier to do than on a model–I can spin it around on the table, it doesn’t backtalk me, I don’t have trouble keeping the eyes open or closed, so it has its pluses.”
You’ve had to learn a whole new way to apply your skillset.
“Makeup is one of those things. You never stop learning. I’ve been doing makeup for over 20 years, but I’ve been finding new ways of doing things in the last several weeks on mannequin faces. It’s just an ongoing [process], and if you think that you know it all in makeup then it’s probably time to hang up the makeup brushes, because you would be slightly naive to think that you know it all. Textures, techniques, styles are changing constantly. Makeup is changing, forever evolving. That’s the beauty of our industry; it’s so fluid. It never stays still.”
Sounds like a good exercise in creativity.
“To be honest, I can’t wait to go back to real faces. I might struggle to do eyeliner, after the way I’ve been spinning mannequins on my table, but I’m definitely looking forward to just getting a face that inspires me. There are so many other senses that inspire you in that moment. Actually, what I’ve realized looking at that flat, lifeless mannequin is that there are so many things that influence where I go with the makeup as I’m doing it.”
I noticed you’re a fan of interior design. Does that influence any of your makeup?
“I’ve always loved the way interiors put combinations of colors together, and sometimes they clash and sometimes they’re completely abstract against one another, but somehow in the right space and in the right quantity it works. I often use that same approach in makeup. For most people, color can be quite daunting and quite intimidating, but in the right amount and placement it can actually work for everybody. For example, if you have somebody think about pink, they immediately think of a girly pink or something bold like a fuchsia, and that might be scary for a lot of people, but in the right quantity and in the right volume, the way that it reads on the face can be incredibly wearable and enduring. That’s the kind of work with interiors that I get inspired by for my makeup. I have lots and lots of interior books and I love just flicking through them and filling my mind with imagery. Somehow it then translates into makeup somewhere along the line.”
You’ve had longtime relationships with some high fashion names like Versace. What has that work been like?
“I’ve worked with Versace for many years now. It’s wonderful to be a part of a family, and Versace is very much about family. You can see that with everything that they do. We’ve done a lot of moving imagery, a couple films in the last two years with the Pre-Fall or Cruise collections. ‘The Heist’ [campaign] we shot in the desert in Spain the year before last and it was really fun. Donatella is obviously incredible. The whole team is phenomenal and it’s always a wonderful experience. What I love about Donatella is that she’s not afraid to push it with the makeup and give her own character to the Versace woman. As a makeup artist, that’s an incredible arena to experiment in and to be given that freedom.”
What are some of your go-to products in your kit?
“I love creating beautiful skin with amazing products. My favorite is Clé de Peau Fluid Foundation. My favorite concealer is Givenchy Everwear Concealer for the under-eyes. It acts like a primer as well as a concealer, so you can use very little but it does twice the job. I love Givenchy lipsticks, Mac lipsticks, of course. Mac has such an incredible range of lip colors and shades and textures. I don’t think you could ever get bored; it’s just phenomenal. I love Chanel and Nars for lips, too. I’ve got my favorite colors within each brand that I always gravitate towards, so it’s very hard to generalize, but those are my go-tos. I also love Nars’ new pan eyeshadows, so you can customize a palette. It minimizes excessive packaging and extra waste. Any brand that does that and tries to be conscious of how much plastic [it’s] using is a winner for me. I love the Lacôme Grandiôse mascara and also the Shiseido Imperial black mascara. Brilliant brush, jet black formula.”
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createdAt:Thu, 21 May 2020 15:39:49 +0000