“No amount of makeup can mask an ugly heart.”
Meeting a makeup artist who isn’t familiar with industry great, Kevyn Aucoin would be a very rare thing (is there even such a thing?)
But if you are among the 1%, this post is for you ;)
Raised in Lafayette, Louisiana by his adoptive parents, Thelma and Isidore, Kevyn Aucoin’s calling for makeup was apparent at a very early age. However, growing up as a gay male (who liked makeup, no less) in the conservative 1970’s south was difficult for a young Aucoin. Despite being heavily bullied in his formative years, Kevyn did not deter from his passion. He found his muse in his younger sister, Carla, who he would endlessly practice looks on. Polaroids chronicled their sessions.
At eighteen years old, Kevyn left for New York with his then-boyfriend, Jed Root (who would later become his manager). Little did he know that his move to the Big Apple would result in a highly successful career, with an adoring star-studded clientele.
Aucoin built his experience through test shoots before eventually taking his portfolio to Vogue. Less than a year after arriving to New York, Kevyn landed his first Vogue cover with the publication’s photographer, Steven Meisel (whom he would continue to shoot with). In just three years, Kevyn racked up 19 Vogue covers!
Kevyn Aucoin contributed greatly to the beauty industry. Aside from his innate ability to apply makeup, he essentially introduced the ideal of natural beauty to the industry. During the 80s, where electric blue eyeshadow and circus-worthy cheeks were a common pairing, the idea of toned down hues wasn’t initially embraced. What was the point of wearing makeup if it couldn’t be seen…right? But Kevyn had a different philosophy. Rather than concealing a woman’s natural beauty, he believed makeup should merely enhance it.
Aucoin teamed up with Revlon in 1983 as Creative Director to their Ultima II line. 1984 saw the birth of Kevyn’s ‘The New Nakeds’ line. This new range allowed women of every complexion to have makeup that was suited to their skin tones.
After his launch, many other brands – such as Bobbi Brown & MAC – followed suit and incorporated neutral color palettes into their lines.
Despite his tragic passing in 2002, Kevyn’s legacy still lives on through his full range cosmetic brand, Kevyn Aucoin Beauty, founded in 2001. He also authored two books, Making Faces (1997) and Face Forward (2000). Aucoin will forever be an inspiration to the beauty industry, and remembered by those who were fortunate to know & work with him.
So, that concludes my History of Glamour Series! I hope you enjoyed reading as much I enjoyed writing these posts. Which was your favorite? Comment below!
Until next time…stay glamorous! xo