Makeup artist Mai Quynh is a thoroughly ’90s girl. She grew up watching Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford sing with George Michael in “Freedom!” while flipping through issues of Vogue covered by Naomi Campbell and Claudia Schiffer. “They were everywhere,” says Quynh of the models who inspired her to pursue a career in beauty. “There was a way that they were painted, a presence they had. They looked so powerful and strong and beautiful and confident.”
Thusly transfixed, the California native enrolled at Studio Makeup Academy in 1998 and established her craft assisting makeup artists Stéphane Marais, Paul Starr, and Frank B. on music videos, commercials, and photo shoots. In 2006, Quynh got her big break when she landed her first Harper’s BAZAAR cover with a brunette and pregnant Britney Spears. “It is quite a memory,” Quynh says.
Since then, Quynh has become a red carpet regular. Her work is readily on display at premieres and awards shows via the glowing faces of celebrity clients such as Saoirse Ronan and Chloë Grace Moretz. “I take everything into consideration—her hair, her dress, her accessories—and I apply makeup that is specific to that moment,” Quynh explains of her approach.
But some things never change. When asked whom she would love to get in her makeup chair for a dream appointment, Quynh’s answer harkens back to her ’90s fangirl days. “Naomi Campbell,” the artist says. “She’s so fierce.”