The Beauty Business | Mary Greenwell – Celebrity Makeup Artist and Founder of Plum & Lemon Fragrances
It’s not often that you get to chat with a celebrity makeup artist so when I had the chance to talk to Mary Greenwell I was sure to make the most of it. We talked tips, trends and top models. Quite the pioneer, Mary built her career by creating looks that graced Paris runways and Vogue covers throughout the 80’s. She worked with The Supers such as Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell paving the way for makeup artistry as we know it today. One of Mary‘s most iconic clients was the late Princess Diana, adored for her timeless look. Nowadays Mary is Chanel‘s makeup ambassador and has expanded her talents into fragrance with Lemon, available at BeautyMART being her latest.
The Beginning – “I didn’t necessarily have a defining moment, but I was offered a job in Fiorucci in LA at the Il Makiage counter. Fiorucci was a trendy department store in the 70’s disco era. Then I was given the opportunity to train as a makeup artist for them in New York with the founder, Ilana Harkavi. She took me under her wing and I worked in New York for the next 3-4 years. I was given the gift of makeup, and they really trusted me even when I didn’t trust my own ability. I didn’t even wear makeup so it was fantastic when someone sees something in you when you’re young and insecure. When you’re given something, take it; it’s important to take the opportunities given to you.”
On Working With Princess Diana – “Working with Princess Diana was a huge experience. To be her trusted makeup artist was a big compliment as she was such a loved and wonderful woman. She was amazing, sweet, very lovely and she had beautiful skin.”
On Her Fragrances – “At a time where I wanted to move forward I thought ‘do I create makeup and just another eyeliner or do I do something positive?’ I don’t feel dressed without perfume and I find it to be much more individual and revealing of me. Fragrance gives such pleasure, you spray something and it’s dreamy, it’s like your world within a fragrance. It may evoke something in you like the past, your mother, a friend or a particular event in your life. I worked with world renowned perfumer Francois Robert, he’s my ‘nose’. I can’t pretend to go into a workshop and know what to do, so I trusted Francois to create my vision. I would tell him my ideas and he’d create what I wanted but there was tweaking by adding a bit of this and taking away that. I chose the name first before creating the fragrance. I just loved the word Plum, it’s quintessentially English. Plum connotes delicious, warm, cozy, fruity and sweet whereas Lemon is the opposite – zesty, outdoorsy and it’s quite unisex too. Lemon is the perfect compliment to Plum.”
The Dream Clients – “It would be my good friends Cate Blanchett and Uma Thurman. But I would loved to have work with Marilyn Monroe, I love her vulnerability and that she looked like the everyday woman out there but also drop dead beautiful.”
In Mary’s Kit – “I’m privileged to have the best products in my kit from the likes of YSL, Chanel and more. As makeup artists we schlep heavy kits around with us, but there are always the ones we trust to use in the dark just like an artist has their favourite oils and paints. For me I can always rely on under-eye concealer, the usual concealer, reflecting foundation or BB cream, eye shadow quads from Tom Ford and Dior and eyeliner whether it’s pencil or liquid.
You don’t need much to create a great look, you only need around 10 products. You have your basics that you need (as mentioned above) then you have products like shimmer for effect, the products in trend such as orange lipstick and blue eyeliner. It just depends on what look you’re going for. Also work to your budget – I recommend spending more money on your skincare, foundation and concealer but for products like blush and eyeliner there are some great affordable brands like Bourjois.”
The Trends – “I absolutely love the no mascara look, if you’re young enough it would look great. Colour too, colour has become important again and it’s all luscious, rich and looks a part of your skin instead of sitting on it, touching and blending has done this. Green eyes and bright lips, they’re of the moment with divine reds and oranges.”
The One – “Lipstick. Anything in the berry family. Creme In Your Coffee by MAC is is the staple in my life, I never run out of it. It’s not very trendy or of the moment but it’s a timeless berry that you can wear all year round.”
Mary’s Advice – “There are no shortcuts so it’s all about hard work. My assistants have always practiced and never given up but expected hard work. Freelance is not easy, you will not make a lot of money at first so be prepared to be broke. Go to agencies and ask to assist, also try to get on the assisting lists for different makeup artists. There wasn’t an industry when I first started, but eventually makeup artists like Laura Mercier and Kevyn Aucoin paved the way. We came along with the supermodels in the 80’s and that’s when the career as we know it started.”