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Makeup, according to Victor Cembellin: ‘It should always appear to be an afterthought, rather than the first thing noticed’


VICTOR Cembellin

After over a decade of being in the makeup and beauty industry, Victor Cembellin proudly says he’s never worked a day in his life.

As an 18-year-old at the MAC counter, he probably never predicted he’d one day handle stars like Amy Adams, Missy Elliot, Natalie Portman, and the Hilton sisters Paris and Nikki.

Last season alone, he worked backstage in 25 shows at the Milan and Paris Fashion weeks. Cembellin’s packed schedule is proof of his talent. But above all, he is a trend guru.

He shares his views on fashion, beauty and career:


Emotional posture


“Makeup has the ability to straighten one’s emotional posture. I have always believed that the true power of makeup is not in its ability to transform the way one looks, but rather the way one feels. A really stellar makeup artist not only connects with the product, tools and colors he or she is working with, but most importantly, with the personality of the subject.

“My love for makeup stems from my background in theatrical arts.

“My last few fashion show creations were for Vivienne Westwood, Haider Ackermann, Etro, DSquared2, Mugler, Charlotte Tilbury, C.Tilbury and Kenzo.

“The favorite part of my job is that my ‘office’ changes location and form on a daily basis. It may be on an airplane one day, body painting in a storage closet the next, then at Bryant Park doing makeup on a supermodel. I love the variety and evolution of where my work takes me.

“Standout jobs I did include going on a world tour and an Asian tour as Missy Elliott’s makeup artist and shooting her album cover and her “We Run This” video. I was requested by Missy herself and it was thrilling!

“I also appeared in Paris Hilton’s ‘Confessions of an Heiress’ book—silly but fun to show my friends and family.

MAC Hydrating Spray

“I also worked in a carnival in Brazil, and I traveled with Liza Minnelli for a year, flying with her on her private jet.

“For my makeup style, I like to think of myself as an interior designer, not a construction worker. I’m not attempting to redo someone’s face, but rather bring out her beauty. Thus, I lean toward pretty makeup. I am constantly influenced by how transformational makeup can be, but I’m not a fan of “taking over someone’s face.”

No matter how different makeup may make a subject look, I believe that it should always appear to be an afterthought rather than the first thing noticed.

“My all-time number one beauty icon is the definitive transformational beauty queen, Madonna. In high school, I would sit with a friend, watching all her videos and freeze-frame on every beautiful thing she did, from her dance moves to various expressions. She will always be my ultimate icon.

“My all-time favorite MAC products are Fix plus Hydrating spray; Prep+Prime BB BeautyBalm Compacts which gives you the most gorgeous under-eye; In Extreme Dimension Lash-Black Extreme Mascara; Mineralize lipstick line (I love the texture because it’s like a lip balm meets a lipstick); Pro Long wear Eye Shadow (the shade name is soft brown); and Viva Glam Original red lipstick—it’s one color every woman should have.

“Recommended MAC products from the 2013 collection: Pro Long Wear Lipsticks, shades of Posh Play, Lady at Play, Everyday Diva; Viva Glam Nicki. Try the new shade! It’s a really fun, trendy shade with a futuristic 1960s kickback.

“Lastly, In Extra Dimension Collection, particularly the duo chromatic shadows in Zestful and Opalesse.

“When it comes to bath and body products, I’m utilitarian. No need for the frou-frou stuff. I’m a guy at the end of the day, so I use Irish Spring deo and soap. Anything that smells like fabric softener or Irish spring, I like.



“My advice to every budding makeup artist is go get a job at a makeup counter first. Doing makeup for eight hours a day on a variety of skin tones and age groups fast-tracks your knowledge of the art form. I am proud to be able to say I started at a Nordstrom MAC counter at 18 and now travel the globe representing the brand.”


Top tip


Irish Spring deodorant

Try one of Victor’s favorite products from MAC: Viva Glam Lipstick was introduced in 1994 to raise money for the MAC AIDS Fund.

Since 1994, MAC Cosmetics has launched seven exclusive Viva Glam product lines, including Lipsticks and Lipglasses, each featuring an advertising campaign with celebrity superstars such as RuPaul, Kd Lang, Lil’ Kim, Sir Elton John, Mary J. Blige, Shirley Manson, Linda Evangelista, Boy George, Christina Aguilera, Missy Elliott, Pamela Anderson, Lisa Marie Presley, Debbie Harry and, most recently, Eve, Dita Von Teese, Fergie, Cyndi Lauper, Lady Gaga, Ricky Martin and Nicki Minaj.

One hundred percent of the selling price of Viva Glam Lipsticks and Lipglasses is donated to the MAC AIDS Fund, with retail partners to waive administrative costs and profits.

MAC is available at Rustan’s Shangri-La, Glorietta, Rockwell Powerplant Mall, TriNoma and malls nationwide.

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Tags: Lifestyle , MAC , makeup , Victor Cembellin

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