Finally...blog with a glam edge to it! I know it's been a while!
A couple of months ago, I got a voucher in the mail from MAC cosmetics to take any one "master class" they offer their clients with MAC Pro memberships. The really good classes I am interested in are usually taught in NYC, so I've never been able to take any. This time around there was a cool class offered in Atlanta, so I decided to take advantage of it! The class was about recreating legendary icons...you know, like Jean Harlow, Lucille Ball, Diana Ross, Madonna, etc. I am always inspired by things from the past, so I figured it would be right up my alley! This 2-hour class was $100 and that money was redeemable for product at the end of the class. With my voucher, I only had to pay for gas for the over 500 mile trip (round trip). Cool!
I got there early, despite having a couple of unrelated issues on the road. I wanted to have some time to get really "hands on" with the products, I like to feel the products on my skin and see how they blend and what the texture is like...usually by the end of this, my arm looks like an abstract painting! This also gave me some time to create a list so I had some idea of what would work with my budget and it would make it easier for the employees to pull the products I wanted.
I had to wait an hour from the time the store closed and the time the class started (7 o'clock). A LOT of people took this class, it was standing room only. Fortunately, I managed to get a chair about 3 rows back. The woman teaching the class oversees the training of employees for ALL of North America! She was super-nice and knowing her background and a little bit about her credentials gave me very high hopes! I always look for an opportunity to learn something.
Some of the info was common sense. If you have a project with a specific icon in mind, one major advantage is to get a model who resembles the icon. Check. And you should know your history to know what was going on in the world and what factors were influencing the trends of the time. Check. At this point in time, I was realizing that my love of make-up, quest for knowledge and the very intensive training I got when I worked for the very first Sephora store in the US had covered pretty much all of this. So, I thought that watching the hands-on demonstrations would be exciting.
Well, I was sad to discover that one model was completed before we even showed up. She was made up to look like Diana Ross from her days with The Supremes. She had the frosty, light lips and played up eyes. The next model came out and I was hoping to see the transformation from clean face to finished icon. But...no. The second model was about 80% done. She was echoing the strong look of Joan Crawford. The foundation was on, blush and eyeshadow. The strong brows were already completed. That means I only got to see her lips be done and the false lashes applied. Woo.
There was a question and answer part (I realized later was just to fill up time). I asked a couple of questions. One was if the make-up artist preferred being hands on when applying foundation rather than using an airbrush. And she does. She said that by the time she sets up the compressor and gun that she could have a face done by hand. (FYI - It takes me about 2 minutes to set my airbrush equipment up. Ask my models.) As long as you clean your gun after each use, set up is a breeze. Then I asked her if she carries around every single shade of her two or 3 favorite formulations of foundations or if she has a few shades she prefers and uses to mix for a range of shades. She said that she does carry every color for her favorite types of foundation, she just transfers them to smaller containers for her kit. But for 2-3 varieties of foundation, that's at least 60 colors. Maybe she does...but my gut thinks not.
After she was finished with the class, she turned us over to the employees so we could load up on products. I had paid no attention to the time, but even after I had to wait FOREVER to get waited on, I ended up walking out of the shop at 9 o'clock. That class was NOT 2 hours. It could not have been more than an hour of actual instruction because I waited a very long time to get my products...so much so that I almost walked out empty-handed. But I know that ordering online or by phone is a toss up with what products are in stock...usually the limited edition items don't last long that way. Of course the essentials I wanted were NOT in stock. No problems with the limited editions, just the good ol' basics.
I find that make-up artists either love MAC or hate it. Some don't want to pay the annual fee for the discount. Some feel very strongly because whenever MAC is recruited for a fashion show or an event, they send out their hourly employees, which ultimately takes away work from freelance make-up artists like myself...and lowers the value of what a make-up artist is worth. Why pay by a half-day or day rate when you can get someone for $10 and hour?
Politics aside, I use MAC because I don't get to NYC enough to really load up on products from the companies I truly love...Make-Up Forever and Face Stockholm. If need be, I can run to one of the MAC counters in Charlotte and get my "hands on" fix with new products. I cannot do that as easily with MUFE and Face because they aren't local. Then there is also the fact that most non-industry consumers really trust the brand. "What brand of make-up do you use?" is a question I get asked frequently. One of my personal complaints is that many times, even their lightest colors in foundations/powders/concealers are not light enough for me. I contemplated trying the liquid mineral make-up since it looked so good on Rachel when I did her make-up for MTV's My Super Sweet 16 show. But as the make-up artist who was helping me pointed out...it was too dark for my pale self. Yet they cannot keep the shade of Studio Fix I use in stock...seems like someone somewhere would get the hint.
I felt like this class was one big advertisement for MAC. Like watching an infomercial live. And even if that WAS the ultimate goal, not education, they still fell short because they did not have enough of the products on hand that the make-up artist used. It seems to me that if you have these classes around the country, then you should have an idea of what you are going to do, what products you plan on using and see to it that the stores have ample stock for the number of attendees...just in case! Sure they were getting a shipment in today, but that does me no good since I am not in Atlanta. It's highly likely that I was the only one there from out of state.
Back to the make-overs. The Diana Ross was pretty good. My one critique would be that when she was with The Supremes, she wore heavy liquid eye liner. I consider that to be her trademark from that period in her life. Here is the main image the make-up artist used as inspiration alongside the finished model. In the larger photos of the finished model, you can also see that in the inner corner of her left eye the fake lashes are coming loose.
As for the Joan Crawford, there was a brief time when she had such angled eyebrows. Most of the time she stuck with rounded arches as you can see in the photo below which was the inspiration for this look. The lips were spot on! BUT when the make-up artist got around to applying the eyelashes, she realized that she had inadvertently switched the ones she meant to use and the Diana Ross model was wearing the ones intended for the Joan Crawford model. Instead of getting another pair to complete the look from this era, she went ahead and decided to use the overly-exaggerated ones intended for the other model. This threw the look entirely. She also opted to NOT use the heavy liner that you can plainly see in the photo she used as inspiration for her Joan. Was this just laziness? It seems to defeat the purpose of recreating an icon if you're going to just fudge it to make do. It's not like we were short on time.
An interesting tidbit is that the artist referred to Joan Crawford's hair style (as seen above) as a "pageboy". A pageboy is usually a short bob, traditionally with bangs more often than not. There are some examples of that classic Breck girl hairstyle that can be referred to as a pageboy, but they are smooth and curled under on the edges.
Another inaccuracy was when she was referring to there always being extremes in make-up...the yin and yang for every era. Well, that's not exactly true. I would say the extremes really started to happen in the late '60s when there were the mod looks, the natural hippie looks...that sort of thing. And that HAS continued since then. She referred to the '80s when things could be so over the top, but then a company called "Ulta II" launched a huge line of nude lipsticks. No, there is a current store called Ulta, but the company she was referring to was called Ultima II. (And the lipsticks were fab...I had 2 of them!) It just irked me since this woman was a self-proclaimed trivia geek when it came to make-up.
Let me just state, I don't know everything...I don't claim to. If there is ever a time in my life when there is nothing else to learn, then I don't want to be around. I just had high hopes taking a "master" class...but was disappointed to find that it was geared towards novices. I'm glad I didn't travel to NYC to take any classes.
And here's a bit of fun. For those of you who only think of "Mommie Dearest" and wire hangers when you hear the name Joan Crawford, here are some images of what a stunning beauty she was before she hit the pinnacle of her career.