Jackies Café, Oxford Street, Paddington
Last week I was given a fabulous opportunity by The Belle Lumiere blog to meet one of the world’s most influential makeup artists, one Ellis Faas. Ellis was here in Australia to promote her new makeup range which is being sold exclusively through Mecca Cosmetica. Mecca gave some select beauty bloggers to sit down to breakfast with Ellis to chat and discover Faas’ ground-breaking makeup range, which is based on colours that exist within the human body.
Naturally, Sydney provided a beautiful morning as a backdrop as we enjoyed a two course breakfast with Ellis and Mecca representatives. To begin with, Ellis showed us through several products, but specifically with the signature Ellis Faas product r101, the colour that Ellis believes will look good on everyone, we were all able to play with the products and test them and ask Ellis questions about the range and her makeup brand in general.
Sitting with Ellis was a great pleasure; she was very engaging and generous with her time and her products. Ellis brought along her makeup roll which is a tool belt style apparatus which contained every product. When it was all rolled up, without product, it looked like a rose. With the products it looked like akin to a machine gun ammo belt. For real.
After our beautiful breakfast we were taken up to the Mecca Paddington [126 Oxford Street Paddington 2021] store to have a ‘proper’ play with the new Ellis Faas counter. I don’t know when it was put in but everything was new. This included everything from the counter that housed the entire product, to the testers themselves. It was all pretty and shiny and new. The great thing about the Ellis display (the makeup display that is) is that where each product rests, there is a ‘pool’ of the colour of the product that looks like it’s dripped out. It looks fantastic.
Whilst we were there, some of the lucky attendees got made over by Ellis; I was able to have a sit down with Ellis who very graciously answered questions for Belle Lumiere. A recap is here:
First of all, welcome to Australia! What do you think of the country so far?
Not much and that’s only because whilst I’ve been here I haven’t had a chance to explore the country or see anything apart from the work I’ve been doing here with Mecca. Of course, I’ve met many Australians in Holland and has a real affection for Australians because it feels like home, plus they, not unlike the Dutch, are easy going, open friendly and have a sense of humour.
What comes to mind when you think of the Australian idea of beauty?
I’ve noticed since I’ve been here that women in Australia are very big on bronzer and self tanning. Which seems a little strange to me because I know that Australia has a high prevalence of skin cancer which is a worry but because of that I would have thought that the pale look or perhaps a paler look would be more ‘in fashion’ but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Note: I was talking with her, saying how that is very much a cultural thing, thanks to our climate and our beach culture we are used to the tanned look so a lot of people look to achieve that with product as opposed to being in the sun and risking damaging sun exposure. Ellis then pointed out that generally speaking, it’s something noticeable because the paler look is much more prevalent in Europe and has been for quite a long time because throughout history, especially in earlier years, the sign of a woman with tanned skin or weather damaged skin was the mark of a working class girl (as opposed to a working girl) where women who were from a more affluent background spent a lot of time inside, hence the paler, alabaster look.
How did you initially come up with the idea to use the human palette as inspiration for your colour range?
The idea for the range has come from my background where I worked in special effects makeup. Initially as a young girl I had wanted to be a photographer, and at the time, the technology was still in analogue, so photos were not instant as they are now. There was quite a process between click to photo but as she saw with makeup, the makeup processes was instant and you could create a look then wipe it off and start again. I’d use my younger brother as a guinea pig and practice on him plus also anyone else who came to the house. From there I developed a love of make up from the colours to the textures and essentially, that’s where it all started. I also learnt that playing with makeup was not unlike cooking in a way because she used to make up textures and bases for the face out of food. Continuing from there, I starting working with special effects makeup as a way to further my exposure to makeup. Special effects make up is very precise and the artist has to be careful because it’s very easy for the makeup to look fake especially using blues and yellows. But the thought process for this makeup came from taking similar principles from that style and just adding the ‘beauty’ element to it.
Why do you think the concept of ‘human colours’ hasn’t been explored previously?
Because it’s very much a concept that is coming into its own in today’s marketplace. There is so much pressure in the industry to come up with the next idea, the next concept, making makeup trendy and sellable and ‘human colours’ fits that requirement. The packaging it comes in, the technology that has changed makeup and its texture, consistency and ingredients has changed and that’s what has allowed the ‘human palette’ concept to come forward now.
How important was the design of the packaging when creating this make up line?
The packaging was all important. One of the key aspects of creating the brand was coming up with the packaging. The packaging had to be something that was useable, would travel well and be aesthetically pleasing. The concept behind the packaging one is quite selfish, really. I know from using makeup what I like and what is easy to use and what is not so that was something I kept in mind when creating the packaging for the brand.
What is your favourite product from the Human Colour Collection?
I don’t really have one as I like all of it. I am very pleased with all the products in the range and love them equally. I tend to use the L101 which is easy to use as the base for showing off the Ellis Faas range and is the one red I believe will look good on everyone. The red lip and the mascara are probably the best sellers. (Ellis did say her fave product for the eyes is 105. )
Can you tell us a little bit about Red 101, the lip colour that will suit everyone no matter their skin tone?
The 101 colour is the red that I always use to show people about my range and is the one that yes, I believe will look good on everyone. The formula for the creamy lips range is really revolutionary because it allows the makeup to be easy to apply and wear and once it’s on. That’s the key, once it’s on, it’s on. Yes you still have time to make corrections before it sets but in that time you can play with the edges, decide the amount of colour you want to work with or even with the eye makeup for example, and make a smudgy smokey eye.
Note: One of the girls asked what her fave. Look with the R101 would be and she answered that she probably doesn’t have one because it does depend on the person and what they are after. She doesn’t like to follow trends and doesn’t have a favourite look, it’s all individual.
Do you think red lipstick suits everyone?
Yes I do. I think that there is a certain way of wearing red lipstick that not everyone does that and this is why there are people who believe red lipstick isn’t for everyone. The key to red is to outline the outside of the lips in red with a little product and see if the colour is a good match. If it is then continue to add more. This is the key because in some cases you may realise you want to wear the colour more as a ‘stain’ than a lipstick and that could make all the difference. That is the key to wearing red lipstick.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of starting your own brand?
I’m not sure about the most rewarding but [gesturing to the display in front of us] this is the most surreal. I mean, here I am sitting in a makeup store in Australia with makeup that I created with my name all over it. It’s real and it’s out there. It’s a very weird feeling. A good weird but a very weird feeling. I mean, also, the work that we put into creating and making the brand and makeup is very rewarding of course but sitting here in front of this new display and seeing everything set up its surreal and that’s the biggest thing that stands out.
What is the most important beauty advice that you would give to women?
Just be confident when putting makeup on. There aren’t really any mistakes in makeup, assuming you are applying it correctly but the key to make up is finding the right foundation. Find and use the right foundation because it is the barrier between your skin and the environment. The key when putting foundation on is to ‘even out’ and not ‘make healthy’ because that’s where you can run into the trouble of over applying and having an orange colour.
Why do you think Mecca is an appropriate store to carry your makeup line?
Because even though Mecca Cosmetica is here in Australia it’s known as a worldwide leader in makeup. Their name is synonymous with niche, quality brands and that is something that people in the industry know about Mecca. My line is going into Liberty in London, Nordstrom in the States and it was an easy choice to select Mecca. In addition to this the staff are always so friendly and knowledgeable which makes all the difference as well because you want to know someone is going to be able to sell your product and show people the best way to use it and make it their own.
What is next for the Ellis Faas brand?
Remember over breakfast we were talking about another storage option for the products. That’s definitely something we are working on for the near future and the rest you will have to wait and see!
For now, Ellis is being stocked exclusively in Australia at Mecca Cosmetica.