Today I want to talk about 90’s beauty, and THE makeup master of the time (and a personal favorite and inspiration): Kevyn Aucoin, who sadly left us 15 years ago, on May 7, 2002.
Born in Louisianna, Kevyn Aucoin was a self-taught makeup artist. He started making faces at a very young age, working on his mother and his sister, Carla.
Inspired by fashion magazines (mostly by Vogue), he experimented with transformative makeup. He had a couple of ideas about makeup: that makeup should rather enhance beauty than cover flaws, and that makeup had the ability to transform and treat people, revealing the real person underneath it.
He thought about himself like a cross between a painter and a therapist: his aim was to undercover his clients true self through his art. He wanted to show his clients’ beautiful souls, to themselves, and to the whole world.
Kevyn did not see makeup transformations as a mask but as a way of express one inner complex identity. We can’t be labeled with just a trace of our personality: we all have several people within us. That’s what Kevyn believed makeup was for, and his goal as an artist.
A visionary and innovative person, Kevyn changed the makeup trend of his time, and forever on. He allegedly said that “trends are just a way to sell cosmetics, but beauty lasts forever”. He then created the first version of the nude/natural look. Nowadays considered a timeless classic.
A rule breaker for the whole of his rather short life, he liked his makeup to look as natural as possible. Neutral and brick colors were his favorite palette, and lined lips and contoured, but somehow still natural faces his signature look.
Definitely took the makeup artistry to the next level, making the makeup artist a celeb himself. However, he still did make up for ordinary people as you can see on his books (The art of makeup, Making faces, and Face Forward).
He strongly fought to include more diversity in the fashion industry. He loved his country, the US because he considered it to be the most diverse of the World: different beauties, races, sizes… He always encouraged self-respect and love, and he considered that differences had to be accepted in order to improve society and communities.
In an interview, chatting about his struggles as a gay teen in Lafayette, he said that “one has to love himself more than anybody else does. If you decide to wait until other people loves you in order to accept yourself…well…then you may wait forever…”
Sometimes I wonder how makeup industry would look like today if he still working… Nonetheless, we can still see his work picking through a lot of editorials. The strong influence he left behind, changed, for once and forever, the fashion industry and the way we understand beauty.
Here I leave you a couple of looks inspired by Kevyn’s philosophy: my take on his work. Hope you like them, and see you soon!!