Saturday, 7 January 2012

Stella McCartney and the mysteries of make-up

The February issue of Vogue lands on the doormat with a huge thump and it’s a corker. It boasts a fascinating tribute to the painter Lucian Freud by friends and acquaintances and a report on what happened when 17 Vogue editors met in Tokyo. But the most enthralling piece of all is an interview with Stella McCartney, who comes across as engaging, family-minded and refreshingly down-to-earth.

One of the most endearing and surprising revelations (considering she’s one of our top fashion designers) is that she isn’t in the least bit interested in make-up. As interviewer Christa D’Souza observes: “To prove it, she brings out a tatty black vinyl make-up bag meagrely filled with a few stubby pencils – so old, she triumphantly points out, ‘you can’t even read who they’re by… My mum only ever used an eye pencil. I tell you, the older I get, the more I seem to be turning into her.’”

I always feel that along with gardening and crosswords, make-up is one of those things that I should have mastered by now. My make-up bag consists of five lipsticks (all virtually the same shade), none of which I use, some ancient Bobbi Brown eye shadow, a blunt Chantecaille eye pencil I’ve lost the sharpener for and some Eve Lom lip gloss, but I haven’t quite got the hang of any of it.

For three months, after a scary eye operation, I didn’t wear any eye make-up at all because I was too nervous to put anything near my eyelids. Admittedly, as I ventured out bare-faced, I didn’t feel quite myself. I was so self-conscious about my pale lids and unadorned lashes that I asked my daughter about 100 times a day “do I look mad?” “No more mad than usual,” she’d say briskly. “And can you PLEASE stop going on about it?”

Actually, I think my daughter has got applying make-up down to a fine art. Her two lovely flatmates are brilliant at it and when she goes out they do her face, blow-dry her hair and paint her nails. Wow. I wonder what they’d say to an extra flatmate?


  1. My great love is lipstick - ideally, deep plum. I wouldn't even go round to the village without it. Nor to the village dentist's.

    There are pitfalls in this. On a visit to the dentist not so long ago, I redid my lippy in the waiting room just before going in for my check up. When I emerged, I walked the length of the village, smiling and saying good morning to everyone I passed. In the back of my mind, I sort of registered that they were looking at me rather strangely.

    It was only when I got home and glanced in the mirror that I realised that I had four deep plum lips!!

    Liz X

  2. Your comment really made me laugh, Liz. Your make up always looks immaculate! I'm now resolving to crack the make-up conundrum in 2012! x

  3. Can't wait to read the new Vogue - saving it for when I've finished writing horrible essay I'm working on at the moment! Very nice to hear that the designer of some of the most beautiful clothes ever is so down-to-earth! xx

  4. She sounds so much more down to earth than I imagined. And good luck with your horrible essay!


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