Lisa Eldridge is at the forefront of modern makeup artistry, working in the fashion industry and as Lancôme’s Global Creative Director. Her first book, Face Paint charts the history of makeup and its social significance throughout history, while celebrating Eldridge’s passion for vintage makeup. Launched exclusively at Liberty before general release, Face Paint is the ultimate coffee-table read for beauty fans and history buffs alike.
For the pre-launch book signing Eldridge brought her home to Liberty for an afternoon, letting us in on her decor loves and favourite quirks from the history of beauty.
Why did you decide to turn the history of makeup into a book?
The history of makeup is one of my biggest passions. When I started collecting vintage makeup many years ago I became fascinated by the story behind each piece, and as my collection increased I amassed a lot of information and knowledge - a book seemed like the perfect way to put it to use.
Where did your love of vintage makeup come from?
I was initially inspired by my mother’s vintage makeup that I found in a box at my grandmother’s house when I was about six years old, full of treasures from Mary Quant and Coty. I wasn’t interested in putting them on my own face, I was just fascinated by the objects themselves, the crayons and tubes, the incredible smell and the glossy, gloopy textures. It was the moment I first began to fall in love with makeup. The first vintage makeup I bought myself was on the Portobello Road in London in 1993 - some 1970s makeup that I still treasure to this day.
Which era would you choose to go back to, if any?
The 60s is definitely one of my favourite eras - there were so many icons, like Julie Christie and Brigitte Bardot, whose look still inspires today. I love the focus on the eyes with cat eyeliner and spidery lashes, teamed with statement pale lips. But I also think that we’re living in a really exciting time right now - beauty is so individual and we have so much more choice.
What’s the most unexpected makeup fact in your book?
I was fascinated by just how much was said and written about makeup by men in Ancient Greece and Rome. I knew there was a lot but I didn’t expect to find quite so many references and was surprised by the sheer volume - it was such a contentious and hugely satirised subject.
Whose face have you most enjoyed painting during your career?
I don’t have a favourite, I like all of my clients as people and as faces - and the more I get to know them the more beautiful they become to me because they’re such amazing people. But a highlight for me was making up Isabella Rossellini for Lancôme’s 80th birthday in Paris earlier this year. As a teenager and a young women I was so inspired by her beauty, her personality and everything she stood for, so it was a real ‘pinch myself’ moment.
Is there anyone you’d love to make over?
I’m lucky that I’ve worked with so many brilliant and inspiring people throughout my career. If I could go back in time, I’d love to make up Theda Bara because she was the first on-screen vamp, or Greta Garbo because she had such strong views on makeup and was very ahead of her time in terms of her look.
What are the biggest mistakes you see people making with makeup?
For me, the only time makeup doesn’t work is when it’s badly executed - good application skills, buffing and blending, make all the difference when it comes to beautiful makeup. For example, there’s a huge trend for contouring at the moment (although it’s nothing new, as theatre actors have always contoured). Done well, contouring can be really effective, but when it’s badly applied it can look like two chocolate bars on either side of your face! But in terms of saying something is good or bad, I don’t subscribe to that way of thinking. What I really love is that today, in many parts of the world, you have the freedom to use and wear whatever makeup you want - no makeup one day, red lips the next and smoky eyes with false lashes the next, without censorship.
As a makeup artist, what’s the question clients/fans ask you the most?
How to get the right shade of foundation and how to use concealer correctly. In fact this question comes up so often that I created a whole week’s worth of tutorials on my site, just on this subject, with back-to-school type feel - I called it my #FoundationCourse. It’s been hugely popular with over three million views.
Why were you drawn to Liberty for your book launch?
Liberty is my favourite store in London - it’s the best place for fragrance and the home decor department is fabulous. And with so much wonderful history and heritage, it seemed like the perfect setting for a launch of a book about the history of makeup.
How do you create a relaxing ambience in your home when you have a day off?
Lighting is key. I love to be in a nice, sunny room and in winter I try and create a cosy ambiance with plenty of warm lighting. I have lots of beautiful vintage lamps and candles are of course great as well.
What do you see in the future of makeup?
It will all be 100% technology led. There have been huge advances in the science and technology side of makeup in the last 20 years, and I think that these will continue in interesting and inspiring ways.