A makeup maestro gives a masterclass in achieving pin-up girl style with a modern twist.
James Molloy grew up in rural northeast England sketching superheroes and costumes; these days he plays make-believe with faces. “I learned doing my girlfriend’s makeup,” says M.A.C’s director of artistry for Asia-Pacific.
He started his career in Manchester, retailing by day and clubbing by night, before graduating to fashion shoots and shows and working with Kanye West, Christina Aguilera, Lily Allen, Emma Watson, Shirley Bassey and more. The colourful characters of the late 80s-early 90s New York Club Kid scene are an inspiration as is the current Korean youth sub-culture craze for rockabilly looks dubbed kimchi-billy.
“I think anyone who dares to express themselves is a makeup hero,” says Molloy.
Unsurprisingly, he rather likes the hyper-real imagery of M.A.C’s latest makeup collection, Hey Sailor!, describing it as pin-up girl style with a nautical twist. With burlesque-inspired looks such as flicky eyeliner and red lips having more than a moment, the origins, via the Riviera, of Hey Sailor! may seem obvious, but he insists that moving away from 50s sex kitten to something more modern is the way to go. “The trick is knowing how to do it without making it retro.”
During a trip to Auckland last month, Molloy talked trends and techniques with Viva and conducted masterclasses for M.A.C. artists. With the glamour girl look showing up strongly here and overseas – in everything from school ball makeup requests to celebrity red-carpet appearances – his insights into how to update what can be a “stagey” effect are timely. “Playful is the key: rather than going too sexy, it’s a little bit fun.”
Molloy says the secret to not looking like Barbie is to lighten up on the lashes. “Also not relying heavily on black liner to signify the look.” His tip is to try navy or even green.
The playfulness of Hello Sailor! and the inclusion in the limited edition collection of the likes of a highlighting body oil may suggest it is for the young and daring, but Molloy’s ideas can be adapted for all ages.
We show his more relaxed version on a young local model, and include his general guidelines:
* Use bigger brushes to achieve a softer more “seamless” finish to makeup. “I’ve really stepped away from smaller brushes for eyeshadow to a blush brush to give diffusion across the lid.”
* Try a blush (or kabuki) brush to buff-in liquid foundation.
* Don’t be scared generally to dab on makeup with fingers. The warmth helps formulas meld well.
* To avoid harshness with hot pink, orange or red lips, press in colour gently rather than drawing on.
* Use bronzer to bring a little warmth to the face year-round. “Think sun-kissing, not sun-tanning.” Shade from the outside, on the temples, cheekbones and through the bridge of the nose and the chin. “Not all over, that is flat and one-dimensional.”
Molloy is a product junkie with an interest in the development of new formulas. He loves the collection’s bronzer which he says has a beige rather than an orange cast and a smooth, creamy, rather than powdery, texture. He is also a fan of cream blushers.
Looking ahead he says cooler colours are a strong trend coming out of the European fashion shows that he works on each season. Watch for a “soft gothic” influence, as seen at Yves Saint Laurent. This can be achieved with purples and blues. Think a rich, flat look. Cooler-toned concrete and stone eyeshadow shades are flattering, he says, and as versatile as the universally popular beige and brown shades.
1 On moisturised skin use foundation only as needed; in our model’s case, we skipped straight to applying a little M.A.C Mineralize concealer.
2 Molloy applies bronzer for a natural shading effect, making the centre of the face stand out. (He used Pro-Longwear Bronzing Powder in Sun Dipped, $56 followed by High-Light Powder, $60). Highlighter is applied on the high points of the face, then swirled in with a brush for a prism effect. “Go for fresh and girly instead of bronze goddess.”
3 For a see-through skin effect, use Prep & Prime Highlighter pen to disguise darkness in the inner corner of the eyes and to highlight the outer edge.
4 The brow is filled in and given a 50s-edge by playing up the arch, while still keeping the in-fashion, handsome boy-brow look. Fling is a good ashy toned pencil for blondes to use to avoid a too contrived look. Lighter brunettes should try taupe shades that blend in rather than overly darken their brows.
5 Eyes are given a buttery gold highlight in the inner corners with easily applied eyeshadow (we used Barefoot) or try loose pigment (in Old Gold).
6 A strong line of Powerpoint Eye Pencil in Blue Stripe, $38, is applied above the lash line. This creamy navy crayon is then blended with the short, flat-edged No 239 brush, and dragged out for a little kick at the outer corner. “Avoid anything too feline and kittenish,” says Molloy, “it should be softer.”
7 Mascara is applied in several coats of black Zoom Waterfast Lash, $34.
8 A bright mid-tone orange (Sail la Vie lipstick, $42) is dabbed on the lips for a casual hit of colour. “If you go for something vibrant pare it back.” Or you can substitute a light application of lipstick for gloss. (For pin-ups determined to last all night, team lipstick with Pro Longwear Lip Pencil $52).
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By Janetta Mackay
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