The power of make-up is truly unparalleled. It not only changes one's facial features but can completely elevate someone's look, from head to toe. The dynamic relationship between the beauty industry and the fashion world has been explored by many aficionados who try to figure out how it works: is it a battle of superiority or a long-term relationship with the ultimate goal of creating art? Especially during fashion month, make-up artists and designers join forces to create a concrete image of a designer's vision; a task that takes time, effort, creativity and team work. From minimal looks that focus on vibrant skin and rosy cheeks, à la Moschino, to avant-garde takes on make-up, like Giambattista Valli's crystal looks and Erdem and Simone Rocha's metallic foils, the presence of bold, daring and artistic looks is more intense than ever for A/W 20.
Mixing historical references with unexpected lines and colours, Blackburn-born make-up artist Lucy Bridge is making waves in the fashion realm. A long-term collaborator of Charles Jeffrey, the S/S 20 season saw the pair send models with striking painted faces inspired by the artist Arnul Rainer down the catwalk, as part of a typically extravagant show. She was also behind the transformations at Jil Sander's S/S 20 menswear collection during fashion week.
In a moment where many are likely to consider their faces more thanks to video conferencing, Bridge's work might spark a level of play and experimentation while the world is cooped up in quarantine. Here she explores the wide scope of the beauty industry and talks about the unbreakable bond between make-up and fashion.
Christina Kapourtzoudi: What made you want to do editorial make-up and enter the fashion realm?
Lucy Bridge: It was from a very young age, probably around 12 when my parents would ask me what I wanted to do; and I just had it fixated in my head that I wanted to be a make-up artist. I think it's because my mom was massively into fashion, beauty and make-up and I was always flicking through her Vogues from the eighties. I went on to study in Manchester on a make-up course, and I just fell in love with the fashion side of things, because you can be creative and really show your own aesthetic through editorials.
CK: During fashion months you have collaborated with various designers and fashion houses such as Jil Sander and Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY. Can you briefly explain to us the process of creating makeup looks for catwalk?
LB: Charles and Jil are the complete opposite. Every season that I work with Jil Sander’s menswear collection, I create a very natural and minimal makeup. I go into a test not knowing anything about the collection until I'm there, and then, with Eugene Souleiman, come up with the hair and makeup looks. For me, it's quite straightforward, but I love creating a 'perfect skin,’ which is actually quite hard to do. Just because it is minimal make-up doesn't mean it's an easy process. On the flip side with Charles, it's a completely different process, especially because we have been friends for over ten years. He will send me pictures of the collection beforehand, he'll start talking about his inspirations, he'll show me fabrics, and what they've made in the studio, so I feel it's quite a unique relationship because you don't normally get to see that side of things from a designer, until you go into the make-up test. With Charles, it is quite a laborious process coming up with all the looks because he loves make-up just as much as I do and he gets really excited. We spend a good two or three days testing lots of different looks, where we break up the makeup and select different sections. We have to think about different skin tones when it comes into each section, and this is why the test becomes quite a big journey. After those test days, I will go ahead, make changes and re-approach things. I might do some tests at home on like a model that I can get in, but everything really comes down to that teamwork.
CK: You created make-up looks for Jeffrey Charles LOVERBOY S/S 20 that were very theatrical and stood out, as part of the collection. The looks were inspired by the artist Arnulf Rainer. How do you incorporate art into makeup?
LB: I have a true passion for art. I go to exhibitions all the time, I keep up to date, I do research and references; and Charles is the same. When he designs a collection, certain artists speak to him. For the S/S 20 collection in particular, Rainer was a huge inspiration; we sat down and went through his whole body of work, and found the inspirational photos that we could then portray into a makeup look. Sometimes you'll look at a painting, and you want to try convey it in a make-up sense, which is really difficult because, obviously, paintings are flat, whereas faces are 3D. You really have to take the dimensions of models’ faces into consideration.
CK: What are your sources of inspiration when creating editorial make-up?
LB: With editorials, it's all about a team process with the photographer and the stylist because they will have different ideas that they bring to the table. I always think about how I can incorporate my references and create something new and different. I also get very inspired by the models themselves, because it depends on what kind of face is in front of me. Sometimes I like to work quite spontaneously, so I'll come up with a look, and on the spot I will try different things (that don't always work!). You have to keep trying until you create something you love. For editorial looks, you have to be quick with what you're doing and go with your gut.
CK: How do you maintain your creativity and avoid being repetitive, while at the same time following specific instructions from designers/creative directors?
LB: It's hard, and I need to make sure that if somebody was looking at a make-up look I created would recognise it’s my work; that is what I want to achieve every time. People book me for a job because they like my work and trust me; they enjoy what I do. But at the end of the day, it is still a team process and you have to take everyone's considerations into mind.
CK: Do you think make-up affects the way a collection is presented on the runway?
LB: Yes, I think this is so important. In the past, designers have been too scared to push their make-up looks, but now the beauty industry is evolving so much and people want to see the hair, the makeup, the clothes, and they want to see the whole visual aspect on the runway. I think it's really important that everyone gets their chance to shine on a show. Everyone's there to do their job, and they want to make their job visible to the public (make-up artists included).
CK: Make-up and clothing in catwalks should complement and complete one another. Is there ever a fear of clothing falling short in comparison with the make-up, or make-up overshadowing a collection?
LB: It's really hard sometimes to find the balance because, at the end of the day, you're there for the designer, so you want to create a make-up look that complements the collection. And it is funny sometimes because, for instance, at the Charles Jeffrey show, people were amazed by the make-up and at times they didn’t even remember what the clothes were like, on first glance. There's so much to take in on a show. The good thing is that with social media and the internet, everything is out there for people instantly, so that they can look through the whole collection and process of making it, and take in every aspect of the hair, the make-up and the clothing together. Especially for a Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY show, there's always a performance going on, so it would be hard for every person to be able to engage with every single thing that is happening. Charles likes to create a feeling, an emotion, and that's why he puts so many different aspects into the show, he makes it different than everybody else does.
CK: We see a lot of catwalk make-up being altered and worn in everyday life. Also, editorial looks are becoming more and more popular (as seen in HBO's hit show Euphoria). Why do you think this is happening?
LB: The beauty industry is thriving and people aren't afraid to express themselves They just want something fun to focus on, change their look day to day, as a form of escape from the things that worry them. I used to express myself through hair and make-up around 12 years ago, when I moved to London. I was living in Shoreditch, and back then, you kind of got abused for wearing crazy hair, make-up and clothes. Now times have definitely changed and people are able to express themselves the way they want to.
CK: Do you think that make-up can change the way an outfit looks?
LB: That's a really good point to make, especially with the recent environmental issues. You don't have to keep buying more clothes, and it's a really good way to upcycle the clothes you already have, by changing up your face because at the end of the day make-up gets washed off, and you can create something else the next day.
CK: What is your favourite make-up look you saw this season during fashion month and what’s your favourite make-up hack?
LB: My favourite look from this season was by Inge Grognard for the Dries Van Noten show. There were unusual shades of colour blocking on the eyes and tiny pinched altered lips... really beautiful and almost a bit sinister, it was gorgeous! When it comes to make-up hacks, I would totally recommend the Eight Hour cream by Elizabeth Arden, it's something that I couldn’t not have in my kit. You can do such a wide variety of things with it: add highlights to the skin, the cheeks, create glossy eyelids, use it as a lip balm, mix it with cream blushes; literally everything!