one woman and 100 faces with make-up artist francesca tolot

No-one is better positioned to advise on make-up than Francesca Tolot. Madonna, Elizabeth Taylor and most notably Beyonce are just some of the women who have been made over by the master of maquillage. From her home in Los Angeles, she discusses her...

by Lynette Nylander
19 November 2014, 4:25pm

What was your first memory with make-up?
My first memory of make-up is with my mum. She used make-up all of her life, she would get ready every day, even if she wasn't going out she would wear a full face of make- up. I still have those memories!

Some of your long standing collaborators were Helmut Newton and Herb Ritts, photographers who are real pros at showcasing a really strong female image. What it was like to collaborate with them and what did you learnt from them?
It was amazing and I definitely learnt a lot from working with them. Those kind of pictures were about showcasing the woman - her power, her strength, her personality. That was what those two photographers were about, not so much about being super creative with make-up, or showcasing my art. I also learnt that it's really important for a make-up artist to be able to transform a woman without overshadowing her natural beauty.

One of your most notable clients before Beyonce was Elizabeth Taylor, What was her routine?
She loved make-up, she was amazing at doing her own make-up as well! She knew exactly what she wanted to look like and my experience with her was unforgettable, not only the makeup but just being in her house, in a room with her and knowing her and being considered part of the family. That was the best part. I felt so blessed from the first day and I worked with her and and kept feeling blessed every single time I went back to her house. I miss her dearly.

Madonna, Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez... you've worked with an amazing roster of strong and powerful women, why do you think that make-up makes people feel more empowered?
If the make-up is done right, even if it's a very small amount, it just makes you feel better. We all know that even women that feel great about themselves without make-up have insecurities. The fact that you have some make-up on, enough to make you feel good, changes your whole demeanour and you can relax, and hopefully feel good.

With Beyonce, what's the most iconic look you've ever done with her?
Well that's really hard because I've done so many since I've been working with her, it's very, very hard to choose one. I think in these last 12 years as far as makeup application I'd probably love the most the one in the video Haunted, I also love the one in the video with her for Superpower but we did so many looks, Dreamgirls which I loved and with her other albums, like the video for Single Ladies, I love that makeup. It's really, really hard to choose one.

With your book One Woman, 100 Faces, what was it like for you collating your years of work into one book, was it difficult?
No it wasn't difficult at all because it actually happened quite organically in the sense that I already had 10 years of images of this amazing woman before I had thought of making a book. Then I had another ten years of having the project in our minds but it took that long to find a publishing company that would go for a project with a Hollywood make-up artist without having celebrities in it. But that really gave me the time to be creative with this amazing team of friends that have helped me through the project. I was just doing it for my own pleasure, without a deadline, without having to please anybody. So in the end when I actually found the publishing company, we almost had the whole book done.

Why was it important for you not to do it with celebrities?
This project started by realising how many pictures I had of this one woman, and the title, One Woman, 100 Faces just came to me one day out of the blue. If I had picked celebrities for this, it would have been a completely different project.

Finally, what does beauty mean to you?
It's hard to define beauty, I don't have a definite idea of beauty, anything can be beautiful and anything can not be beautiful. A woman to me is beautiful when she is beautiful on the inside. It's a beautiful person that captures you and has charisma, it doesn't matter what her features look like, to me she's beautiful. On the other hand, if you want to talk about beauty as a makeup artist for taking pictures symmetry is really important as then you can transform the face in many different ways, rather than asymmetry but asymmetry can be just as beautiful as it gives more character!

One Woman, 100 Faces is available now.


Text Lynette Nylander

lynette nylander
make-up artist
francesca tolot