Styleicons speaks with Napoleon Perdis about the importance of education to his successful brand.
Who or what inspired a life in makeup and who taught you the skills you have today?
My mum introduced me to the world of makeup. I distinctly remember watching her apply a vivid red lipstick before going out to dinner with my father and being absolutely entranced by it all. Little known fact: she’s the creator of my “mascara first” beauty rule. She would apply a coat of mascara first to set the stage for the rest of her look – and that’s become my mascara mantra to live by.
Is there anything you wish someone had told you in the early days?
To enjoy youth! It goes by too quickly.
Is creative makeup talent something you are born with or can it be taught?
Perfecting any talent takes time, patience and dedication. Nothing happens overnight and practice makes perfect.
How important is education to the Napoleon Perdis brand?
Education provides the framework of my brand and I thrive on teaching both makeup artists and real women trends and techniques. Makeup is about elevating and celebrating your natural beauty, but you can’t get that unless you know how to properly use each product. That’s why all of my products feature pro-tips to educate and empower the women who use them.
What key elements does the Academy focus on? Does education techniques or curriculum change by city or country?
The Makeup Academy is like the Harvard of Makeup. You can come in for a one-day course and learn how to apply foundation, participate in a three-week course, or an intensive diploma and train for a career in makeup. It’s all about options, creating choices, and delivering the best educational and creative experience. My courses have a strong focus in bridal beauty, fashion editorial work, TV and film.
All the Academies teach my makeup theory developed over the past 20 years. It’s same curriculum from Los Angles to Melbourne and it’s just one of the many ways that the brand helps to democratize makeup.
Napoleon Perdis Academy Los Angeles
How closely are you tied to the Academies? Will these grow in size?
I’m very much involved in the Academies and I oversee all the course-work. I am one of the few working makeup artists who still creates for, controls, and owns my own cosmetic company.
The Academy, with campuses in the U.S. and Australia, has trained over 24,000 students since opening in 1995 in Australia. My Academies in Australia are accredited and the largest in the country. I plan on replicating that in the US. I’m looking to expand the makeup academies into more markets including Beverly Hills, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago and New York.
What do you think is the best balance between theory and practice?
Theory and practice are both absolute necessities in makeup education. Take the principles of highlighting and contouring. You have to understand the how and why of each. Without that, you’re not going to be able to create what you need to create.
At our Academy, our aim is to blend our theory and incorporate it into real-life experiences. This interactive approach keeps things interesting and engaging. Students are given a task – say it’s a dramatic eye look – with a time limit and learning from that practice is invaluable. It’s not about an eye shadow. It’s about doing it in that environment.
What has been the most important thing you were taught , that you carry with you today?
Always remember that a makeup artist is a person of service, no matter what level. Whether it’s at a fashion magazine’s shoot or with a bride on her big day, you’re there to service someone and to jointly achieve a desired look. There’s no time for dramatics!
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