In a rare interview, legendary make-up artist Laura Mercier talks building the brand, working with Madonna and the struggles of her early career
For someone who was personal make-up artist to the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, Julia Roberts and Madonna, it’s reassuring to find that she is still very much grounded – not just that, but also warm and compelling with an infectious energy and enthusiasm. She splits her time between France and New York, so to say that Mercier is a busy woman would be an under statement. ‘There is no real average day for me, there is no routine,’ she tells me. ‘When I go to New York, it’s concentrated time that I use for creativity. I’m at the office every day from morning to evening, working with the creative team to put together new collections and products. When I’m in France, I do a tour of Europe to see the creative teams, work on trends and receive products we’ve put ‘in the cooker’ to test them out. I also see my family in the summer’.
‘On a daily basis when in France, I’m usually based in my house in Provence so I really don’t wear much make-up. When I go to Paris I usually do a light make-up. As I grow older I do less of a smokey eye but I always go for a red lip; it’s become quite my signature.’ One would assume that with her line now stocked in 1,122 stores globally, this had always been her grand plan. In fact, it was quite the contrary, but she never lacked ambition.
I never had the idea of being a make-up artist but I wanted to be an artist. But most of all, I wanted to be independent. It was very important for me to have a job and be able to support myself. I was interested in the artistry of beauty so I learnt how to be an aesthetician
Her route to beauty came after two years at art school. Mercier enrolled at the Carita School, ‘the perfect association between art and beauty’ and it’s where she credits the start of her love affair with make-up.
It was in 1985 when Mercier made the tough decision to move from France, where she had already made a name for herself, to New York, where she was unknown.
It was a culture shock. I had never really left France and everything was different. On a personal level, just living there was brutal because it’s a jungle. It wasn’t like France where I had my friends and family and I was never lost. Over there, I was by myself and it was just work work work. It was very difficult to establish a personal life because I had to work so much to get to where I wanted to be. The pace was very different but there was no way I could have stayed without a job
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