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EXCLUSIVE
STORY
BY ROCHELL "E"
L'Oreal Paris Makeup Director
Rae Morris


Makeup Artist Rae Morris' career didn’t begin by attending ‘makeup school’.  She started as a hairdresser.  One day backstage at a fashion show, Rae was styling models hair, when one of the models, ‘Naomi Campbell’, asked her to apply lipstick on her lips.  Rae was quite stunned; here is this most sought after model, with two cell phones and a cigarette, asking me to apply on lipstick.  She grabs a clear gloss and applies it on Naomi’s lips.  And the rest is history.  Rae’s career immediately took off.   Every designer wanted to work with her, not knowing that she wasn’t a makeup artist.  With all of the hype that was surrounding Rae, she went back to her small town in Brixton and just thought that everything would go back to normal.

“You know I would never, in my mind, never have thought that I would make it as a makeup artist.  There was a lot of hype about me in Brixton, and I was getting jobs that were a little bit bigger than I thought I could handle and I did lose my way through most of them and then I thought, ‘I got to get some training’ because I had no makeup artist training at all.”  In the early 80’s Rae was a model.  She knew how makeup should be applied from watching her own face being done.  She thought that she had the basic tricks, she said to me.

Rae had received training by a known makeup artist.  “I was very fortunate to train under Richard Sharah, which I think was the greatest makeup artist that ever lived (Australia makeup artist).  Richard was David Bowie’s makeup artist.  Richard was also color-blind, which made it a bit more interesting.  He also worked for Madonna.”  With only 24 hours of training, Richard thought that Rae was ready to become a ‘makeup artist’.  “He said to me that I needed to move away to Sydney and I just thought ‘no’, I’m not that good, because Sydney was a big thing for me, then I decided to get jobs.  What was fortunate was that the jobs I got were always a step above the rest.”  In the fashion world you start going up the fashion magazines like, Girlfriend, Dolly, Marie Claire, then you move to Vogue and Harpers Bazaar.  Rae went straight from Dolly, then the next week to Harpers Bazaar.  That’s when her career really took off.  A few months back I interviewed British Makeup Artist, Kristin Piggott who is a spokesman for Rimmel London.  She says working with them was a great move for her and a great brand for her to work for.  Rae feels the same way about L’Oreal Paris. 

“Absolutely” she says, “I feel it strongly because in the beginning, I must admit, I was a little bit ‘do I, don’t I.  L’Oreal Paris is also a consumer brand, so there were nerves in the beginning, how would this work?  How would I go from using luxury brands to L’Oreal Paris brand? so then I realized, I also went to L’Oreal Paris in Paris, which is the biggest cosmetic company in the world, and then I just got excited because the makeup itself is so amazing and I think that’s what makes my job so much easier; plus I love the responsibility, it’s not just you know, you work for L’Oreal, here's the blush, “off you go”, you get  a lot of control and input, and what I love is that I don't have to make women want to buy products.  It’s so much to it from the business side, she giggles and says, “I love the power” but also you know my makeup has got to be something right, up-to-date fashion forward, something that women can look at and be inspired from, you get that from the fashion magazines for sure, but for a cosmetic brand there are millions of women who buy this brand.  I absolutely love it and my career opportunity built from there, going to Paris and yes, it’s something that I’m very proud of and there’s never been a L’Oreal spokes person, never before in Australia and there are no contracts that produce that in any other brands in Australia, agent specific.”  She continues; “To be that person is a bit nerve racking at times because of the pressure, but it’s a good pressure.  I don’t know what I would do without it.  It’s my life and I love it and it opens me up about makeup and how it’s made and so I think that my knowledge of makeup has really grown.  You get the inside information that you really wouldn’t get if you were a general makeup artist; on how it’s tested.”  Rae tells me that  L’Oreal received a Nobel prize in Science about 10 years ago, it’s called the ‘Enviro’ (short for environmental). “What that means is that when they stopped testing on animals and then on humans skin, that had to stop.  So what they did, they would take a tiny piece of skin from behind humans ear and grow sheets of it.  They actually put sheets of makeup on people’s skin.”  Rae says because of the testing that L'Oreal created, it opened the door for the development of ‘skin grafts’.

Rae launches all the new products for the magazines and for the beauty editors.  She says that is exciting.  She also direct shows in Australia.  “We have a show event hear called LMFF (L’Oreal Melbourne Festival Fashion) and it’s the biggest fashion event in the world, it has 220, 000 people that comes to the shows, so that’s massive.  I direct all the shows.  Plus, I do a lot of shoots here, taking the products from Paris, getting inspired by the ranges, and then I go to different projects like ‘Project Runway’, and give the guys inspiration.”  She says that it doesn’t take up all of her time; it takes about two months out of a year.  She also goes to fashion shows overseas.

Rae says, that it is important for her to keep that level of training and keep her finger on the trends and just not look at ‘style.com’; so when she goes back to Australia she has a lot to talk about.  Rae states that she is highly trained with new information constantly.

With her title L’Oreal Paris Makeup Director, Rae promotes new colors, products and creates amazing looks. I wanted to know how she obtained the position.  “You know what; it was kind of crazy”, Rae says to me. 

“ About 5 years ago they were looking for a makeup artist and my career was just starting to take off and to be honest, I was a bit nervous, because I was a lot newer to the high end of the editorial side, so they were looking at other people. What I found out later on is, they were bringing on other makeup artists on the shoot and they were testing them, but not letting them know that there was a contract.  There wasn’t really a contract; they just wanted someone to do media.  Then I came in and said, ‘I know that you are here to sell a brand and you’ve got to make people believe in a product’.  Whether you love it or not, that’s what you just have to do.   And also, I am good at speaking and I’m not shy, so I got to the point where I was directing shows and I got to the point where I think that I understood how a cosmetic company works and the difference in how it’s not just doing makeup.  There’s a lot of things involved.  You basically have to be L’Oreal head to toe, and I loved it,  but after 2 years they designed a contract for me and I was like ‘OK’, I told them wow, call my agent”, she laughs.  “I thought, does that mean that I get 10 million dollars and work 5 days a week?  Oh, but not quite like that.  But I got more responsibilities and it’s great.

With higher position comes great responsibility.  With Rae’s success with L’Oreal Paris selling over 20,000 lipsticks worldwide, she is now focusing on her 3rd book.  ‘My forty-plus book’, she states, “I’m not calling it that.”  It will speak about how to apply on the right makeup that is best for all different types and ethnic skin, which, she started working on the book the same day of our interview.  Rae’s life is very interesting and very busy.  While conducting the interview she was also working on a photo-shoot (staff being very patient).

One of our concepts here at EFM is about educating the ones who inspire us to be in the industry and the importance of having an agent. Rae says, that it is important to explain to up and coming makeup artists that it is very important to keep business and talent separate.  “It is very critical that you have an agent.  Makeup artists are very sensitive and very emotional people, so we can easily get manipulated.  I’m sure you know that.  On a job we get, “Oh I’m sorry we can’t pay you, but with an agent, ‘all that stress is gone’.  It’s like wanting to be a vegetarian.  Plus, they can help you make the right decisions.  Most creative people are not really great with the business side. You need someone to help you with legal stuff.  So it’s really important.  I hate when people say, you asked for 20%, they deserve it. (She gets interrupted by someone on the set) I know if I negotiate its $1,000; because I’m a bit nervous to say $3,000, but you're worth 10 x’s more anyway.”

 Rae speaks to over 2,000 makeup artists each year.  There is no doubt that training and teaching is her passion.  I asked her if she could tell me why it is important for her to teach others, how to become a makeup artist, and advising women on applying makeup the right way.  She tells me in details; “That’s a great question. There are so many reasons why.  While I can’t teach full time, it would exhaust me, but I tell you what, not in all cases, but a lot of schools have makeup artists that aren’t in the industry.  They’ve taught for so long and it’s really important to tape your secrets and your tricks because once you’ve taught it, once you’ve given that information out, it pushes you to learn something new.  I hate it; people who will hold things back.  I think that a lot of people in the fashion industry don’t cater to that.  I’m finding that most kids want to do fashion.  When these kids get out of school, they don’t know how to get an agent, they don’t know that this is their one chance and I know if I don’t get them now, I’m going to see them in about 10 years.  I want to teach kids that have done at least 27 courses.  I do guest speaking and I ask them how are they going to get an agent?  They have no idea.  They are so lost.  I think that it’s only one way that they can succeed. ‘If you can get 5 minutes with someone, it could change their life’.”  Rae continues; “Not that I am saying, if I don’t tell them, no one else will.  A lot of makeup artists aren’t really big in sharing their knowledge as I am; I’m very big on that.  I wish someone would have done that for me, because it would have cut out some of the pain, stress and unnecessary money.  I did 20 hours of training with Richard Sharah.  That was it.  So you see these poor kids, the cost is up and up, you see people ripping them off, and I hate that.  I hate injustice.”

Rae explains more about why she is very passionate about teaching, and to giving her knowledge to the aspiring and think that this industry is so amazing and just don’t want people to think that it’s so hard. “I mean you have to eat and drink makeup.  I love the feedback I get from students.  I’m always getting the most amazing responses and that’s what I love.”

Rae takes students on a job.  She feels that they learn more on the job, than in a classroom.  She also states that her teaching philosophy is; ‘come on the job, turn up, you’re going to be working as hard as you've ever worked, you’re going to clean, you’re not going to sit down, you’re going to work hard.   And she feels that  this way they’ll know in one day, whether they want to become a makeup artist or not.  

Telling me briefly some of the designers she has worked with during L’Oreal Paris Melbourne Fashion Festival.  “Every Australian designer who has a show, I’ve worked with.  There isn’t one I haven’t worked for, to be honest.”  She mentioned a few, one of them being, designer Alex Perry.  Having great connections in the industry, she has worked with everyone in Australia, at least once.

Everyone knows Rae is ‘the go to makeup artist in Australia’, so she tells me quite a few things that no one knows about her.  “I’m a big lover of cars.”  Oh really?  What kind of cars? “My dream car is an Audi R8.  Wow that’s a really good question,” she says.

I’m very Australian, as in, I did spend part of my life in a caravan growing up, my mom was a body builder,  my dad is an ex Vietnam Vet, I’m dyslexic, and happy that I am, because there are more pluses than minuses.  My hair is lighter – I’m a dark blond.  I was a gymnast growing up.  I love gadgets, as well.   I can’t cook.” We both laughed.  She also adds, “People assume that makeup artists know how to draw, I can’t draw.”

 Rae gives tips on holding that beaming glow throughout the day.  With a beaming glow just add a drop of luminizer with your foundation.  Using cream blushes instead of powder. And cream blush is a bit more water proof.  Just be careful, glow on oily skin can make you look like you’re working at a fish-n-chip shop so carry blot papers.  Another thing, if you want that glow, don’t ever use powder to reduce shine.  When you use powder, you change your look.  Spray tan is also good for a glow. With black skin it’s really great to use mahogany luminizer, ‘being a true makeup artist means that you can work on any skin tone’.  With my third book, I’m making sure that 50% of the models will be minorities.”

Wrapping up our 40 minute interview, Rae tells me what she would like to be known for.  “A makeup artist that takes risks.  I want to be known for the kid from the caravan who made it creatively to the top.  Someone that’s very nice and always pleasant.  I don’t want to be known as that person who has made it to the top and become arrogant.”

 

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