When brands like Dior and La Mer need an infusion of je ne sais quoi, they look to French beauty guru Violette, who, in one incisive statement, distills the myriad makeup trends on Instagram (and IRL) into two opposing forces. “It’s either you want to change yourself and look like someone else,” she explains, citing Kardashian contouring as a catalyst, or you’re using makeup as a form of self-expression.
The former–strategic shading over heavy foundation–only serves as a band-aid. “If you put makeup on and you change your features and you post pictures on Instagram and everybody loves them—you come back home and remove your makeup, and then you’re like, ‘Oh my God, if people knew, they would not love me, for sure.'”
Rather than feed the like-bait beast—although she still gets crazy love on social media—Violette uses makeup as a form of self-expression and experimentation. “I’m like, ‘don’t change your features, don’t contour, don’t put on tons of foundation.’ I’m going to show you that you can put on just lipstick and the attention will be more on your lips and less on your nose. Imperfections are so charming because they show who you are and that you’re unique as well.”
Growing up in the south of France, Violette gravitated towards art from an early age, but never set out to use the face as her canvas. “I’ve studied painting since I was three-years-old. I never went to makeup school. I’m from fashion design and art, and that’s all I know,” she says. It was a costume party that acted as a gateway to full-time face-painting. “My friend came over, and she was like ‘can you put some glitter on my face?’ I created a mask of layers,” Violette remembers. “It was like dressing up and painting her face at the same time.”
Not long after, Violette left France and moved to New York to pursue makeup in earnest. “I was interested in experimenting with art through makeup, using women not as canvas, but as muses, because as a woman myself, I don’t want the girls to disappear. I had like three brushes, two lipsticks, two foundations, and I was just coming on set and trying.”
Fast-forward a few short years and the art-student-turned-makeup-pro has collaborated with Violet Grey, M.A.C, Sephora, and currently serves as a brand ambassador for La Mer. “I base all my makeup on art ideas and how you can be inspired by art to create your own look,” she says. “Even if it’s just lipstick, it’s very artistic.”
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“I think weird makeup seems more cool when it looks like a way to express yourself rather than a way to look beautiful,” says Violette, who swiped cream shadow across lids with her fingertips, finishing the look with matte lips for contrast. “I wanted to play with two colors that people are afraid of–orange and green.” To recreate the look, try Make Up For Ever Aqua Cream in Acid Green and Sephora Collection Cream Lip Stain in Always Red.
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“I love how here she looks like her own muse, using her fingers to draw shapes and apply colors she likes on her face,” Violette says. “My goal was to make people remember that makeup started as a way to express ourselves.” For a similar effect, try Make Up For Ever Flash Color Palette Multi-use Cream Color Palette’s Bright Blue shade on the eye, and Red on the lips.
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Violette was inspired by “the art piece from Kumi Sugai that represents a graphic shape in red and black. Red and black are the two classic colors in makeup.” She continues, “I loved playing with asymmetry on the eyes.”
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Violette is obsessed with Yves Klein blue. “I just wanted to draw here, like a brush movement, to just show this color as the star.” The freehand face paint took seconds to execute, but “it was also one of my favorites,” she says. Violette created a smooth canvas for bright blue with La Mer Soft Fluid Foundation.
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“Here, the face is like a paint palette,” says Violette, who freehand painted primary colors over lids, lips, and along the hairline. “I always like to have the girl not ‘used’ as a medium but as a muse.”
Photography by Alex John Beck | Makeup by Violette | Hair by Adam Markarian | Styled by Kathryn Typaldos | Manicure by Naomi Yasuda | Model Tarsha Orsman @ IMG
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