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In Conversation with Celebrity MAC Makeup Artist James Kaliardos

MAC Cosmetics is built around the artist just as much as it caters to the consumer, with dozens of runway shows a year and, alongside that, tens of annual collection launches, connecting to the creatives who need an always-increasing product catalogue for shoots, shows or appointments. We recently spoke to celebrity makeup artist James Kaliardos, who, in his words, has created makeup looks for “everyone from Miley to Hillary” and has parlayed that experience into a newly launched range with MAC Cosmetics.

This new range is part of the three-pronged The Artist collection, with each separate part individually inspired and created by James, Kabuki and Diane Kendal. Where Diane’s selection is inspired by edgy 90s grunge and Kabuki prizes colour, creativity and bold artistry, James’ collection is decidedly consumer friendly, with each product carefully selected and created to help the consumer “edit” each morning.

“I thought I would do a pared down kit – a basic James face, which is sculpting out the face a bit to bring out the shape and the bones of the face, then emphasises the lips or eyes,” James said. “I just wanted to do something helpful to women, because I think makeup can be used as a tool to empower women and make them feel better. I thought I would give women the tools with easy to use things to present themselves to the world how they want, they can have that choice and use their own artistry and creativity, that’s a really healing, beautiful thing.”

James, whose runway and shoot credit roll includes such famous names as Versace, Chanel and Calvin Klein, knows what works on set, on the red carpet and for everyday consumers. Products in his all-new namesake kit include an eyeliner created like a sharpie, that women will easily know how to use, as well as a simple all-in-one highlighter and contour kits, wearable lipsticks that are recreations of his favourite shades (with new twists) and even suggested brushes to enable the consumer to master makeup for themselves. Comparing that minimalist collection to Kabuki’s vibrant, out-there products and Diane’s intentionally retro aesthetic, James lauds the disparity, and sees the relevance of his collection on the everyday makeup artist or woman.

“Kabuki, Diane and I thankfully did 3 completely different collections,” he said. “To me it was about helping someone edit. I think you walk into any makeup store, and of course there’s people there to help, but there’s so much choice, especially in MAC, they do like 60 collections a year, so I just want to help a woman make her own choice – here’s a pared down version of things I know are tried and tested and true. I’ve worked with all these colours. I know this works.”

James was equally inspired by the practical – say, his mother in law, who stands as the everyday consumer who has no confidence in her own makeup ability – and the conceptual, for example a trip over the Grand Canyon, where he was motivated by the layers in the scenery. He also credits his vast experience in makeup, a process whereby he learned by doing, which landed him backstage on some of the world’s most famous shows and shoots, in being key to the collection’s production.

“The Beatles said to master something you need 10,000 hours,” he said. “I’ve definitely spent 10,000 hours doing makeup and looking at things and colour and how it hits the face, and how light hits it, so it’s trying to help women through that process, saying ‘this definitely works, it’s going to make you look cool or strengthen your look.’”

For more information visit maccosmetics.com.au

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