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The Violet Files

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Sarah Brown and three of the industry’s leading artists talk tips and tricks, plus what it means to be trusted by the world’s biggest stars.

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Pati's Red Carpet Regulars: Margot Robbie, Kirsten Dunst, Elizabeth Olsen

SARAH BROWN: What do your clients generally ask you for when you meet before an event, and you've got the hairstylist there, you've got the stylist with all the clothes; how does the makeup complement these things? What role does it play? Do they say, "Pati, just make me look pretty," or "Pati, I really want to push boundaries today?”

PATI DUBROFF: It depends on the day, but most times, elevated natural is the thing. How can someone still look easy breezy, but completely elevated?

SB: Even for a black tie or a major red carpet?

PD: Yeah.

SB: People don't want to look like they're trying too hard.

PD: No. Don't you think it's cooler that someone's in an incredible dress, a gown even, and they still look easy in the face? I think the thing that most people loved about seeing Margot as Barbie out in the world was that her skin looked so alive, and she looked so healthy and fresh. She looked natural and polished, and that was intentional. That was the memo. If you're putting on a fancy dress and then you've got a fancy hairdo and then you have a fancy face, all of a sudden, you're like a caricature.

SB: So it's that balance.

PD: It's always about finding a balance. Maybe the outfit's going to be really simple, so that's the time you amp up the makeup, because the outfit is a simple black column, or it's a suit, and then it's like, ‘oh, let's do some badass eye because we've got this simplicity down below.’ It's finding the balance between not just the clothes, but the jewelry, the hair, even the nails. When it's a full look and it's an important red carpet, all of those things need to be in perfect balance.




Tasha's Red Carpet Regulars: Alicia Keys, Whitney Peak, Gabrielle Union

SARAH BROWN: You used Chanel’s Le Liner liquid eyeliner in Noir Profond on Alex Shipp for the last look in our Cover Story. That flick, that wing—for me that dials it up immediately. It's all you need.

TASHA REIKO BROWN: It's all you need. When you do a bold lip, you do want to acknowledge the eye. You want to balance it, but you don't want to pull the focus. Something about two coats of mascara and that little flick just reads so timeless, so chic, and it gives the eye a lift.

SB: Is that liner hard to use? I'm always intimidated by the liquid calligraphy pens. What's the secret?

TRB: For novice hands, for someone who is not used to doing the flick, to have it in pen form is perfect because your hand is already used to that motion from writing. The pen works better than, say, a pot with an eyeliner brush. The point goes down really, really, really tiny. It's a very sharp point, so you don't have to go back in there with Q-tips and micellar water and clean it up just to get that sharpness. I think it's perfect.

SB: Is there a trick to getting it really tight? You want it to really hug the lash-line, right? Does that just take practice?

TRB: No! I have two tips for you:

The easiest way to line your eyes is to put mascara on first. This way you can glide right along the upper lash-line and push down and it's not going to slip below your lashes when you have a strong layer of mascara already at the base of the lash. That makes it really easy.

And second, I always hear from women that it's hard getting the symmetry between each wing.  I like to look straight in the mirror and decide where I want that line, or that little flick, to end on the side of each eye. I'll place a little dot next to the right eye, go over and place a little dot next to the left eye, and then close my eye, drag that liner out and just connect it to the dot. You don't have to keep going back and forth, muddying it up. If you place those two dots in the right spots, you're guaranteed to get that symmetry the first time out.


Kate's Red Carpet Regulars: Charlize Theron, Nicola Peltz Beckham, Jessica Chastain

SARAH BROWN: What are your subjects hoping you're going to do for them?

KATE LEE: Recently I was with Emilia Clarke for some days of press, and she sat down and I put my hands on her face and she was like, "Ohhhh, everything's going to be okay." You know? So, first and foremost, I think it's an energy exchange and it's knowing that someone's got you and that that's one thing that you don't have to think about. I want my subjects to relax and to know that I've got them. People rely on my understanding of the event that they're attending: the length of it, the time of day, the temperature. Are you going to be face-to-face with someone? Are you going to be lit on a red carpet? Are you walking into a situation where you don't know what the light's going to be like, where you'll be in a variety of different lights? I think about that when I'm getting someone ready, and that's not necessarily something they would think about, but that’s what I think about. I'm like, "Okay, well, I looked at the venue of the screening that you're going to and the step-and-repeat is two feet long and it's black and there's no light anywhere, so make sure you hold your head up and be prepared for flash, which might take away a lot of the color." So, I am thinking about things in that capacity. The unspoken part of our agreement is that I understand that, so they don't have to think about it.

SB: When you have your makeup done, you're in a very vulnerable position and I think everybody is insecure, right? No matter how big the star, how gorgeous or handsome, everybody's insecure and we just want to look pretty and we’re trusting that you're going to make us look pretty, and that's a lot. 

KL: This is a forcefield. No one comes in here unless they're intimately connected to you. No one comes that close to your face or touches you the way I would touch you, doing your makeup, unless that’s someone you love, someone you're in a relationship with in some capacity. No one gets that close to you. No one tells you that you have a chin-brow like I would, you know what I mean? I love you. We're getting rid of this. I need to see all the things that maybe you don't see yourself when you’re doing your own makeup, but that I see from every angle. You're trusting me that if I'm going to contour you, I'm going to do it in a way that it looks right from every angle, do you know what I mean?

SB: Yeah. 

KL: Those are the things I think about. It's an incredibly intimate relationship and when you first meet someone, it's an opportunity for them to feel your energy and to assess your skill and know whether they want to work with you again.