BEAUTY TALK: ELLIS FAAS

Posted in Interviews, Makeup on February 18, 2016 by


I’mma letchu you finish, but Vogue Paris called Ellis Faas one of the most influential makeup artists of her generation.

O F.  H E R.  G E N E R A T I O N.

CC: Mario Testino, who handpicked her to collaborate on a shoot after looking at the books of every makeup artist in the country.

CC: Karl Lagerfeld, who put Faas at the helm of her own team for his CHANEL and Fendi shows.

*Drops mic*

*Picks it up again*

All Rose Dewitt Bukater-ginger hair, the dewiest skin we’ve ever seen and psychic green eyes, Ellis Faas is disarming (which is sort of ironic – you’ll soon find out why). For most of her early career in the Netherlands, she was a one-woman show, one of the OG slashies – photographer/makeup artist/stylist/model/pupil. These days, her wiki bio has an extra line: In 2009, Faas launched her eponymous cosmetics range, which you can find at Australia’s parliament house of beauty, Mecca.

Inspired by military equipment, Faas’ cosmetics are shaped like rounds of ammo; her signature makeup case resembles a bullet cartridge ready to be filled with whatever five rounds pique your mood (see how her being disarming is ironic?). Her collection is tough on the outside and feminine on the inside; right up our alley. And what makes each hue interesting is that it’s based off human colours – blood reds, bruised yellows – that blend effortlessly with natural skin tones, a cue taken from her expertise in special effects makeup artistry where the goal is to make the even most surreal look real. Tarantino, get in touch.

On her recent trip to Australia, we sat down the legendary Ms Faas about that Vogue statement, her bestsellers, and the rise of YouTube beauty vloggers.

GRITTY PRETTY: Can you give us a rundown of your career so far?

ELLIS FAAS: I wanted to be a photographer to start with. I was about 14 and I did this makeup photography course where the subject was ‘narcissism’ and I kept on changing myself with makeup because I wanted to look different in every picture, which I thought was pretty narcissistic – it was like, the selfies of the ’70s… The makeup, which I went pretty crazy with – peaking opera, kabuki and all sorts of things – that sort of took over and I started loving that more than the photography. I love the effect, that you can use your hands, the different textures, and then it all washes off which is brilliant because you can keep on playing; it’s very instant. So, it took over. I went to school for it after that, first in beauty course and then special effects in Paris. And then, I sort of dragged special effects into beauty makeup – that was, I think, my signature and that’s why I got noticed, I guess.

GP: One of the most recognisable elements of your cosmetics is the design – your cosmetics look like bullets. How did you come up with the concept?

EF: [The makeup case] was the starting point – this is like a gun and you load it with your bullets. And then, from there, I calculated what I put on my own face and I wanted the [makeup case] to be the whole thing, the whole face. (Unscrews top) You can put your powder in here, too. I wanted something organised, basically. I’m not an aggressive person but the military are very good at carrying all these things around their body and they walk a lot. I also have a fascination with the toughness of the military as well. I’m not a girly girl, so I wanted something with a bit of edge, which is a translation of what I like. There wasn’t any market research behind it, [the design] is just what I like.

GP: Let’s talk about your cosmetics – most of them have an in-built automatic applicator brush. Why did you go with that instead of having makeup pots or palettes?

EF: Ease of use – you also stop needing all these other brushes. I also compare it to our mothers, who had mascara in a block, and they’d spit in it and swirl their brush around. Now you’ve got the automatic mascara, which is the wand that you pull out. So, I think this is also the future of the eye shadow [and lipstick] – the automatic, twist applicator brush. It’s all for the consumer’s ease of use; you can sit on the train and do it. I don’t want to complicate matters for people, I want it to be easy.

INTERMISSION: At this point in the interview, we really get the sense that Faas is a well-versed veteran of makeup. And, she hasn’t lost touch. This is good. She knows what she’s talking about, but more importantly, she really loves what she’s talking about.

GP: Your Skin Veil Foundation and Concealer are both bestsellers at Mecca, and have over 100 reviews each on their website. What’s the secret to excellent coverage?

EF: I always put foundation on first and then concealer, otherwise you wipe it away. The concealer brush is usually very fine so you can apply it topically, only put it where there is darkness, not all over. Foundation-wise, it really depends on your skin, but I don’t like it when it’s too cakey. The middle of your face is normally more red, so if you start there and feather it out, it looks more natural.

I always say, there are no mistakes in makeup, only thing you have to get right is the colour, and you can get your advice in-store or test a bit [on your face] and then go outside and see if you can see it. Natural light is very important.

GP: Vogue’s touted you as one of the most influential makeup artists of you generation. Who in the industry influences you?

EF: Well, that’s what they say, but I don’t know… For me, it’s people like Serge Lutens and David Bowie. I’m also inspired by Bowie’s makeup artist [Pierre La Roche].

GP: A lot of makeup inspiration and influence now comes from social media platforms like YouTube, where beauty vloggers can experiment and give tutorials on everything from everyday makeup to character makeup. Have you watched any of these videos YouTube, and what do you think about this evolution in the way we share and learn about makeup?

EF: Yeah, I love it when people play, but I don’t like it when they become arrogant about it. The whole face-shaping business is getting completely out of hand…  Sometimes it’s really creative and it’s fun to see but I don’t like the girls who sort of, are arrogant about it and think they have the holy grail because there’s no holy grail in makeup. I’m really bad with names, though, but there’s one girl – she’s a makeup artist, Lisa Eldridge, she did a video about us and she’s also a really good makeup artist as well.

CURTAIN CALL – We tell her what a pleasure it was speaking to her and she replies in kind with a warm, toothy smile. She’s keen for us to try out the range so we can experience everything she’s just talked about. OK, let’s do this. Let’s get our makeup done.

EXIT STAGE RIGHT.