Issue / Beauty Goes Rogue Q&A with M.A.C's Gordon Espinet

Beauty Goes Rogue Q&A with M.A.C’s Gordon Espinet

Feb 03, 2015

Gordon Espinet, senior vice president of global artist training, development and makeup artistry at M.A.C Cosmetics, talks to us about the latest runway beauty trends.

The beauty industry has reinvented itself over the years and Gordon Espinet has seen it firsthand. He has helped make M.A.C the iconic brand that it is today and he says they aren’t stopping anytime soon.

Born and raised in Trinidad before moving to Canada as a young teen, Espinet knows a thing or two about cultural beauty trends, and he says it’s about time the fashion industry is starting to recognize the beauty in uniqueness. He talks to us about upcoming trends and how the world has been wrong about the perception of makeup. Gordon Espinet, senior vice president of global artist training, development and makeup artistry at M.A.C Cosmetics, talks to us about the latest runway beauty trends.

What will some of the biggest beauty trends be this spring and summer?

I think in terms of trend and beauty what we are seeing is definitely a movement away from makeup being what makeup used to be for. Makeup before was to fix you because you were busted (laughs), as a clear way of putting it. The idea of saying you can look like someone else, or we can restructure your face, or we can make your lips fuller, all of this is really stepping away now and we have gone to the place of saying “you’re gonna look like you.” The makeup we are putting on is going to be an embellishment or an adornment. It’s really about adornment that doesn’t change you; it’s styled to suit your face. We’re seeing that happening more and more.

Of course, spring is always that time of seeing beautiful skin. And everybody’s obsessed with making skin look kind of radiant and perfect and fabulous. But you really don’t want to see it looking makeup-y. We’ve seen skin go toward a more natural or even radiant texture.

I respect that the fashion industry has finally gotten to the point that they are saying to people “uniqueness is the most important beauty trend that you can have today.” I think everyone is really coming to terms with [the idea] that beauty should be achievable by all. It’s been a long time coming. We’ve come a long way, we still have a long way to go. The trend in beauty is really to embrace what is there, to put it very simply.

You designed the beauty looks for Georgine and Desigual’s S/S15 shows. Do you have any tips for South Asians who want to recreate these looks at home?

The basic of all these looks is to get your skin looking its most beautiful with as minimal amount of apparent product as possible. It’s about getting to that point where you understand how can I make my skin look beautiful. I always say a man will look at you and he has no idea you have any product on your skin. So it’s about that freshness, no matter what age you are. The idea of doing an eye that is not overly structured, and none of these eyes had a lot of eyeliner on them.

Eyebrows are definitely moving back to the natural eyebrow. Don’t over-tweeze. Don’t over-arch. And definitely don’t make them super dark and drawn on like a stencil. Stenciled brows make me crazy to this day.

One of the more provocative ones is try stepping away from eyeliner. That’s provocative. It’s part of the [Indian] culture, and sometimes these beauty cultures go back centuries. For me to come along and say the trend is to now stop, is madness in itself.
One of the things we are seeing is to keep [the face] relatively monochromatic. So there’s no one product that is standing out too much, but if you do want that element of shock or that element of something strong, that embellishment, keep it to one. It might be a bright lip, it might be something kind of specific on the eye, but really keep it to one and not a whole lot of product everywhere. The modern way of thinking about it is signature. The one signature that makes you you. Focus on that.

For spring and summer, are there any colours, shades or tones that we should be looking toward?

I never like to say to people to stay within a box. Whatever turns you on. I mean ultimately for spring/summer it’s really about taking makeup away rather than adding. For the most part, we did see spring/ summer move into much more groomed, almost masculine beauty. It’s the same makeup you would use on a guy. And it’s about making everyone look very, very clean and fresh and beautiful.

I always say your favourite colour should be the colour of your skin. Start with that and everything you add on is just embellishment.

You’ve been with M.A.C since its early days. How have you seen the beauty industry and M.A.C as a brand change over the years?

Technology changed. I think people actually sat down and thought for a minute, maybe it’s not about the package that products go into, but maybe it is the technology and the science that goes into the product. And with the smarter consumer that we see today than we did back in the ’70s and ’80s when people bought dreams in a jar, now people seriously want to know, “How can I look my best? What’s in this? What are the benefits of this product? How do I use it best?” And not simply buying dreams in a jar. That’s definitely moved far forward. The consumer has just gotten smarter and the industry has had to get a little more realistic about how we speak to the consumer.

Beauty has become much more broad. We don’t break it down to the classic lines of beauty anymore, as what we used to call the classic lines of beauty, which generally was based on Scandinavian heritage. It was tall and blond and blue-eyed and Viking. And now beauty is all over the map, beauty comes in every colour, and we really do embrace beauty in its true ethnic form. I love the diversity that we see in the world today. And I’m proud to say, working for M.A.C, we were one of the drivers of that. When we said all races, we meant all races and we still continue to be that: all races, all sexes, all ages. We are that brand that really sees beauty in every form.

If there’s one thing that you could change about how people think about makeup or the way the beauty industry thinks about makeup, what would that be?

I think the idea of starting your makeup thinking that you’re ugly and you need to fix your face. I hate that. When I hear the term corrective makeup, or when I hear to conceal or to hide, all of those terminologies that implies that makeup is to hide some dark horrible secret, it’s not that at all. Makeup is really something that you have fun with. It’s something that you enjoy. And the good part about it is that when you’re done with it, it wipes right off or washes right off. And it should be that.




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