I’m going to make a bold statement now, just my personal opinion of course, but… I believe Lucia Pieroni to be the best makeup artist there is, in the world. And I really mean it. She may not have the most Instagram followers, or do the most press, or be the most talked about or have a range of products to her name, but in terms of her body of work, which really is what it should come down to as makeup artists, I believe her to be the absolute best there is.
In terms of technical skill, originality, versatility, interpretation of briefs and sheer wow factor, she is exceptional, consistent, and seemingly faultless. Even the simplest makeups Lucia creates can be utterly captivating, I often find myself thinking “how the hell did she think of that?!”. Take a look at the featured image of this post for example. Keeping a high fashion image elegant but yet taking it to the next level by daubing on contrasting, finger painted neon orange shouldn’t work, but it completely does in the most genius way. In the same vein, I’ve been lucky enough to assist Lucia in the past, and remember on a Vogue Paris shoot, seeing her pore over reference books of Native American histories while the hair team took around two hours to create an intricate, textured, feather-filled style. When her time came she sat the beautiful Isabeli Fontana down, took a few minutes to messily (on purpose of course) paint the top of her face black, from hairline to the bridge of the nose, smudge a little dirt-toned shadow into the cheeks, and then was done. And it was perfect. So striking, authentic but perfectly editorial at the same time. And moments like that are why I love Lucia’s work. The fact that she then spent much of the shoot sat peacefully on set knitting a scarf for her sister between makeup checks made me love her even more.
Usually on these types of posts I’ll choose twenty images to show the variety in an artist’s work, but twenty wasn’t enough this time! Although before we even get to her portfolio, her client list might just floor you. I do wonder whether Lucia holds some sort of record in this category if there is such a thing, I mean, check this out for a campaign CV (deep breath); Alexander McQueen, Balmain, Chloe, Dior, Armani, Miu Miu, Givenchy, Versace, Calvin Klein… And then there’s her vast collection of covers from Love, to ID, to W magazine which seems never-ending, as well as well over 100 shoots for Vogue with photographers from Tim Walker to Testino to Mert and Marcus. Her ongoing collaboration with the latter consistently throws out some of the most striking fashion images of our times, and perfectly showcases her ability to produce the perfect look for each shot, from flawless classic beauty to gloriously bat-shit crazy, whilst remaining super original along the way.
Somehow amongst all this, as well as holding the position of Creative Director at incredible luxury makeup brand Clé De Peau for the last eight years, and having worked as personal makeup artist to Madonna (which her Mum adorably considered her first “proper job”..!) she finds the time to pop up at numerous shows at fashion week, and I genuinely look forward to seeing the looks she’ll create each season. Her recent gold leaf and graphic eyeliner Mayan Goddesses for Rick Owens for AW15 were genius, as well as her soft, barely there makeup with long pencilled brows for Missoni (you can see both in our rundown of looks from the season here). From one extreme to another her looks consistently wow me and stand out as being some of my favourites long before I know it’s Lucia at the helm.
Now obviously one doesn’t build a career as one of the most highly respected artists in the biz overnight. Despite the deceptively Italian name Lucia is a Brit, and when she revealed to me she was born a Stockport girl like myself I nearly lost my mind. Although she’s somewhat better spoken than me having grown up mostly in Hertfordshire but still, yay Northerners! Beginning her career in the 80s providing makeup for her sister who was modelling at the time, she began furiously testing with the photographers she met every weekend. The industry was very different then, with no assisting required, but the solid testing remains the same and once she had a book to show, she took it to the legendary Beverly Streeter, who became her agent and the two have been together ever since, building Streeters to become the most respected agency of its kind in the world. Talk about a power couple. After moving to New York for five years in the mid 90s Pieroni began working with the new wave of fashion photographers including Mario Sorrenti, Paolo Roversi and David Sims, her talent spoke for itself and the rest is history!
Take a moment to get stuck into my picks of some of Lucia’s finest work over the years and see for yourself just why she’s my number one. Utterly inspiring stuff. Lucia Pieroni, Mascara wars salutes you!
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