yadim - beauty and colour with the ex-club kid and maybelline's global make-up artist

Drawing inspiration from his club kid past, Yadim is the Californian-born, NY-based make-up artist with a passion for colour. On speed dial to the big names of the fashion industry, Yadim was recently appointed Global Make-up Artist of Maybelline New...

Dec 4 2014, 10:00am

Helena wears necklace stylist's own.

Alisa wears jacket Akris. Badge stylist's own.

Helena wears top Rick Owens. Earing stylist's own. 

Alisa wears top Calvin Klein Jeans. 

Alisa wears jacket Alexander McQueen. Bandana and earing stylist's own.

Helena wears t-shirt IRO. 

Helena wears jumper Alexander McQueen. 

Alisa wears jacket vintage Wrangler. T-shirt Calvin Klein Jeans. 

Helena wears t-shirt Marc by Marc Jacobs. 

Fashion and beauty insiders aside, the industry's make-up world remains a mystery to most. But even if you've not heard of Yadim before, his campaign, celebrity, and editorial work will certainly have seeped into your subconscious. We're talking Rihanna's Balmain campaign, Lara Stone's latest Calvin Klein underwear ads, French Vogue covers, and Lady Gaga's Applause visuals. He's a go-to guy for Mario Testino, Inez and Vinoodh, Mert and Marcus and Mario Sorrenti. Practically the whole industry seems to be backing the handsome Californian who was first inspired to get into make-up while watching his mum get ready in the mornings.

"I always loved that," Yadim confesses over the telephone from New York. "That was my first interest in the beauty routine. I didn't realise that it was the make-up that I liked, but I used to love watching my mum get ready in front of the mirror." How long did she take? "I think minimum one hour. It was the 1980s, so there was a lot of make-up!" The 80s were also responsible for bringing to light Yadim's all-time number one beauty icon: Boy George. "I went through this punk phase in high school and my hero was Boy George," he recalls. "I loved the make-up he did on himself. It was so epic and so beautiful! When I finally started playing with make-up myself, going out with friends, that was what I remembered. We thought we were the 90s version of Boy George!"

The 80s were an exceptional time for a child to be witnessing make-up: all that blue eye shadow, thick lip-gloss and blusher that looked like bruises. "It really was the era of excess in fashion," Yadim agrees. "Fashion was really over the top - sometimes really quite bad and sometimes really cool." It wasn't simply a case of how glam the make-up made his mum look that set him firmly on his current path of success. The young Yadim was also perceptive enough to pick up on her emotional response to this ritual of self-transformation. "I remember being really intrigued by the whole process and seeing what it did to her personality. From her face to her mood, she lightened up as she got more ready," he recalls. It's something he stands by today: "Ultimately make-up is a very emotional thing. That's what makes women want to continue to wear make-up and buy make-up and turn it into an entire world of beauty."

Thankfully, Yadim's mum was open-minded enough to encourage her son's interest in a hobby that more gender-strict parents would discourage (we also have plenty of parents who bought Barbies for their boys to thank for today's designers). She bought him a Kevyn Aucoin make-up book, which fanned the flames of his fascination. Yadim stayed interested through to his teens when he became a M.A.C cosmetics cashier in his native San Diego. Then, when he moved to New York years later, his group of friends would get as "freaky and weird" as they could with their looks: "It wasn't about make-up or beauty. We'd go to an art supply store and buy tons of glitter and paint that was probably not meant to be used on your face and we would play around and paint each other."

Club kid exuberance is still a reference for him today. "I always try and incorporate a little bit of that insanity; that early, non-cosmetic form of make-up, from the club scene," he says. "It wasn't about trying to be the most beautiful: it was about trying to be interesting, and have a bit of character. I always found that really intriguing and now that I've developed more in the cosmetic world of make-up, I always go back to that dream. It still excites me and I think that kind of make-up really inspires everyday women." Yadim may have assisted greats, including Aaron de Mey, Tom Pecheux and Pat McGrath on the way up ("Assisting them was probably the craziest, most intense time I ever had, but it really showed me how the industry worked"), but he's never lost his understanding of the everyday woman. He enjoys being Maybelline New York's Global Make-up Artist (he had a similar role for Dior in the past) because they're "everywhere and it's accessible to everyone". He admits to being a "product junkie", explaining that "no matter how much make-up I have, if there's a new product or even new packaging, I get it. Absolutely!"

Of course much of his work means he comes into contact with the world's most beautiful women, including Gisele and Kate. "Different people have different features that stand out more. With Gisele, I think of that beautiful Brazilian skin, those cheekbones. Then with Kate Moss, those eyes. They're so provocative. Every person that sits in your chair has a different feature or a different personality that reflects something in their face." But it's girls like Sasha Pivovarova, Joan Smalls and Gemma Ward that he feels most affinity for. "When I first started as an assistant, there was that whole crew of new girls who are now huge. So when they're starting and you're starting as an assistant, you're starting together and you get to know each other together. Now they're huge stars and it's amazing, so I have a bond with that younger crew."

Yadim's proudest professional moment to date came not in fashion, but in the music world. Lady Gaga's Applause campaign, "was amazing because I had that creative freedom that working with directors and photographers can provide. I love working with Mert and Marcus and David Sims, who I looked up to when I was younger. I only thought I'd be able to work with them in my dreams."

So what does he think of the beauty industry today? "I would really like to see more inclusion of every culture and more diversity. We're getting there little by little. It's a tough subject for a lot of the brands running the industry to jump on board with, but ultimately, I think it's important to sit outside the box and be the one who says, 'No! This is about everyone: every woman, every man, every culture, every type of beauty, the beauty in everything.'" And what's his own personal definition of beauty? "I think it's beautiful when someone can align how others see them with how they see themselves."



Text Stuart Brumfitt
Photography Amy Troost
Fashion Director Alastair McKimm
Make-up Yadim
Hair Shay Ashual at Tim Howard Management.
Nail technician Honey at Exposure NY.
Casting Angus Munro for AM Casting (Streeters NY).
Photography assistance Henry Lopez, Darren Hall.
Digital technician Denis Vlasov.
Styling assistance Katelyn Gray.
Make-up assistance Kanako Takase.
Hair assistance Sean Mikel. Models Alisa Ahmann at The Society. Helena Severin at DNA.