stephane marais, the supermodel's make-up artist
Make-up artist Stephane Marais is major with a capital M. There is nothing this man hasn’t achieved with a touch of foundation, some eyeliner and a dab of lippy. He has enhanced the looks of the most beautiful women and men to ever grace the earth.
Stephane Marais and Linda Evangelista, photography Laspata/ De Caro, 1995.
From the dawning of the Supermodel era, through to Hollywood glamour and A-list pop stars, Stephane's incredible skills have graced the covers of every publication of note and every name worth mentioning - you name it, he's been there, done that and made it all the more beautiful in the process! Touched by the hand of God? Almost...
Hi Stephane, when did you first realise you wanted to work in the fashion industry?
When I was 18 I briefly studied economics at university, but soon realised it wasn't for me. From there I tried make-up school at Christian Chauveau in Paris, it was something that appeared more creative. Then I started knocking at the doors of magazines with my little book full of personal tests made with young photographers and models and it worked, step by step. People liked my work and my career started.
What was your first major show?
Jean Paul Gaultier, again in the early 80s. I was so nervous and so young at that time, I really felt that I was entering the big arena. From being scared I felt that I could do anything after that, I was ready.
Why was the Supermodel era so special for you?
I was there at the right time. Work was freedom of expression and creativity. My relationship with those girls was very close because we were constantly working together, travelling together; it was long term and the entire team bonded by it. It was a family business, we all grew up together and the girls were so inspiring and participated in the process. We were very close, almost a love story.
Are you nostalgic?
Yes and no. Yes because I've left behind such a beautiful period of time, and no because I am still excited by what I want to do and discover. I'm so conscious that those periods were great but can't be recreated. My past is full of beautiful memories that I carry with me like luggage and that allows me to go ahead with the same excitement.
You've said before that Linda Evangelista is your favourite Supermodel of all time, tell us a bit about your relationship with her?
Linda and I started working together in the 80s. We worked together so much and travelled together so much that we created a deep relationship in a personal way. We shared a lot of things together and were there for each other in life, during the good and difficult moments. That relationship still exists now, friendships and love have their mystery and beauty that don't need to be explained or revealed. See the pictures that I sent you instead!
What has been the highlight and lowlight of your career so far?
The highlight was when I started working with Mr Irving Penn in the 90s. There is not really a low point for me because of my character. I refuse to give up and prefer to go ahead whatever happens. I am very determined and it really gives me the power to face difficult situations and periods of doubt. Think positive is my motto.
You have said in the past you find inspiration in film. What films have influenced you the most?
The cinema of German expressionists, such as Fritz Lang's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Metropolis, The Testament of Dr Mabuse and Nosferatu by Murnau; the list is long. For me film made a strong impact and drove me to my make-up signature at that time, the smoky eyes and the dark eyebrows... Of course there are so many other films important to me but at that period they were my opening key.
You have taken polaroids of models at shoots and shows for over 20 years now, is there a certain look you find yourself returning to?
Yes, the mystery of black smoky eyes, it's so in tune with our time.
What has been your most outrageous make-up look to date?
At Viktor & Rolf's autumn/winter 01 show I decided to paint all the girls black, from head to toe. It had an incredible effect on stage but stupidly America saw it as a racist message. No comments from somebody raised in Africa!
Do politics or current affairs influence your work?
Yes, especially in the turbulent times we are living in today. Crisis needs optimism and it really does affect my work. Dream of beauty and sparkles to enhance the mood.
Should men wear make-up?
They 'could', would be more appropriate than they 'should'. Times are changing and men's beauty is becoming more important in our social culture. There's been an evolution of morals. So why shouldn't men wear make-up to be more seductive? We talk about the feminisation of the male gender in social studies, but to feel more comfortable with the idea of make-up for men why not think about the rock 'n' roll image of it.
What makes a woman glamorous?
Shaped eyebrows and a beautiful red mouth.
Who is your favourite femme fatale?
What three make-up products should every girl own?
Eyelash curlers, black pencil for the eyes and black mascara.
How would you define beauty?
That's a very difficult question to answer, is there a definition somewhere? It is such a personal perception. People say beauty comes from the inside, but for me beauty is a simple fact, a face has to move me for me to find it beautiful. My entire skill is based on the ideal of beauty and my goal when I do make-up on a face is to find the girl beautiful before my make-up.
What day-to-day beauty tips do you recommend our readers?
Start with a good moisturiser on the face, then curl your eyelashes for a good morning eyes look. Use a concealer to erase little problems such as darkness under the eyes, then smudge a black or brown eye pencil on your upper eyelid, add a touch of mascara and finish with a stain of lipstick for the mouth.
If anything were possible what would be your dream beauty product?
A variety of pills that would create a unique make-up look on you with a personal finish when you eat them.
Text Holly Shackleton
Photography courtesy Stephane Marais
View our gallery of Stephane Marais' polaroids of supermodels