By  on August 27, 2014

Introduced by their mutual friend Cameron Diaz about 15 years ago, Drew Barrymore and Gucci Westman are fast friends with the gift of the gab, particularly when it comes to beauty. Barrymore, an actress and producer who added entrepreneur to her résumé in 2012 with the launch of Flower, and Westman, the star makeup artist who also serves as global artistic director of Revlon, share an encyclopedic knowledge of products past and present, iconic photography and legendary looks. Get them going on the subject, and the duo speaks in exclamation points punctuated with bursts of laughter and lively riffs on everything from contouring to communication strategies.

How did you first meet?

Drew Barrymore: It was the year 2000. New York City. Cameron Diaz. Girl’s night out.

Gucci Westman: I remember specifically the first time I did your makeup was for a Harper’s Bazaar cover, photographed by Peter Lindbergh.

I remember that so vividly—I don’t remember what I had for dinner last night, but I remember that very vividly. I did a greasy black eyeliner and you sent me flowers after and I was like, “Gosh, she is so classy.”

D.B.: Yes, you did a greasy lid. It was the height of the Max Factor lip gloss—Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream love affair.

G.W.: We’ve always had this makeup bond, haven’t we? When I was working with Lancôme...

D.B.: You asked me to be your girl.

G.W.: I did! I remember you weren’t sure and you were like, “Can I come over to your apartment because we need to talk about this.” You wanted to hear what ideas I had.

What is it about Drew and her face that inspires you?

D.B.: Oh god!

G.W.: Pretend you’re not here.

D.B.: Okay. I am going to close my ears. I’m going to leave one ear open.

Drew has one of those faces that is so incredibly beautiful and you can really transform it. She can wear so many different types of makeup. She has this little movie-star face that is so classic and petite, but it is also very sultry. There are so many things you can hone in on—the mouth, the skin, the eyes, the eyebrows. It is so much fun. Definitely I would say one of my top-three favorite faces to paint ever. And also because she loves makeup, she is always so appreciative and inspiring to work with. It’s always been an energetic and fluid collaboration.

When you’re together do you talk shop?

D.B.: Oh yeah! I loved talking about old-school Shiseido double-ended lipsticks, where one end was matte and one was shiny but it was the same color, and why did they discontinue that? And the Kevyn Aucoins and Dick Pages and Pat McGraths and people like that, who just came from doing runway shows. I knew Gucci was in that world and I loved to talk about those artists. Gucci and I have been doing shoots for so long, there’s been a lot of tremendous larger-than-life figures who have traveled through that circuit. I always loved talking about those people or makeup itself or formulas or why does this work or why is this necessary, how do you make an eye even, why don’t they make that product anymore, was it really just only used in fashion? Those are the things that are fun for us to discuss.

G.W.: Drew has always been integrated in the whole cosmetics world. She is very good. She can tell you exactly what to use to color my hair, your hair and her own hair. I remember for a Lancôme shoot I wanted to do this Faye Dunaway Chinatown thing and I was like, “Is it okay if I tweeze your eyebrows really thin?” Remember? And you let me! Actresses often don’t want to wear a lot of makeup when they’re doing makeup campaigns, but Drew is fully invested in it. She wanted to be that person that I was trying to create.

D.B.: I worship Gucci’s skills and artistry. She is so much beyond a makeup artist. She is an artist. Not only do I want her to go for it on my own face, I love watching what she does on fashion shoots when there is no-holds-barred makeup going on.

Drew, when you were developing Flower did you consult Gucci?

D.B.: I showed her a ton of stuff I was doing, absolutely. 

G.W.: I’ve always given you and Cameron lab samples of things. I’ll use it on them because I can’t wait till it’s made. I get so excited. Cameron loves a lab sample, but Drew will be interested in the depth of it. How it is made, what I was thinking.

D.B.: Makeup artists have so many tricks and techniques and skills. Sometimes when I look at a makeup line as a consumer, knowing what a lot of those tricks are, I am always wowed by why there is such a discrepancy between what goes on in the world of makeup artists and what you buy in makeup products. There is so much highlighting and shadowing and widening of the eyes and evening-out the eyes and brow bone and nose bone and cheekbone and skin-evening tricks. With Flower, I want to bring some of those things to the table that people have taught me over the years that are so crucial to why it looks so good when you see people on a red carpet or in a magazine. It is not just airbrushing and lighting. It’s because that artist has done something really interesting that isn’t always on the shelves.

Now that you’re ensconced in the business side, is it more difficult to make that a reality than you envisioned?

D.B.: Some things don’t sell because they’re not obvious. I understand that, but maybe there is a way we can communicate to people.

G.W.: People love description and guidance. Women are just intimidated. If you have a little bit of a how-to, it makes it so much easier.

D.B.: Yes, and if you build it into products—like making tinted moisturizer with a luminizer that’s going to help give some type of glow for someone who might not know how to highlight on her own.

G.W.: It frustrates me when products don’t do what they’re supposed to do because the masses think the color is too dark. For instance, a shadow and highlight palette can be incredibly intimidating if it is the right color, which is dark, so you have to make it lighter in order for the consumer to understand. But then it doesn’t do the job.

D.B.: It is tricky. Two years ago I had a lipstick in the Flower line that was quintessential to what was happening on every magazine cover and every runway—black-burgundy lips—nothing had trended so hard and for so long, and I couldn’t move the product. I couldn’t give it way.

G.W.: It is more difficult in mass because you don’t have the option to test many things. Communication is essential. With Revlon, social media is incredibly important, any kind of how-to videos or instructions I can provide help tremendously.

The other half of that coin is that women also need aspiration. I’m sitting here in sweats, but that isn’t what motivates me. It is seeing beauty, feeling a moment of beauty. Beauty should be attainable and relatable but it always has to be aspirational. Where you lose people is when it becomes austere and alienating.

Beauty advertising imagery tends to be very one-dimensional. How would you like to see it evolve?

Personally, I wish it could be a little bit more pared down and less considered. Fragrance ads always resonate more for me than some cosmetics ads. They are more iconic, there is more dimension, there is more life. There is something that has been lost with all of the retouching and testing.

D.B.: I can’t stand the retouching. With every layer of computers you lose a layer of the emotionality. The most important thing is trying to balance emotions with graphic nature. Women love to be emotionally provoked. If you can pull at our heartstrings or make us feel like we can fly, that is all we want. If you can strike that magic where something looks really good but it’s making you feel good, I see romance. Gucci is right. It is easier in a fragrance ad because you are telling a story, whereas makeup seems to be about the face and the color and the skin. How do you make that emotional? It’s tougher.

G.W.: It is tough. And then you have to do it in a certain way. There are so many people involved. It is not spontaneous on any level.

You’ve traveled a lot together. What inspiration have you gleaned about the other’s beauty routine?

G.W.: Drew loves a Ziploc bag.

D.B.: And Gucci always has the latest product.

G.W.: I’m very interested in skin care and lasers and the lights and all that.

D.B.: Gucci knows skin innovation like no one else.

G.W.: I find it so interesting. As we age we need to preserve what we have and make it as good as we can.

What’s your latest discovery?

G.W.: I’m really obsessed with this mask by Déesse. It has four different light fixtures and four different functions—skin tightening, acne, collagen reproduction and line reduction. You can use it every day, 20 minutes a day. I’ve gotten so many compliments on my skin since I started using it. It’s expensive but worth it. I’m obsessed with all of these gadgety things.
Drew, what’s your latest obsession?

D.B.: I am in love with highlighting under my eyes before I put concealer on. Having two [kids] under two, I haven’t really slept in two years, and I had been feeling very unattractive and run-down looking. So I have been highlighting under my concealer and giving an illumination and reflector of light. It has totally been a game changer. I always felt like concealer was a mood lifter. The second I use it, I feel better about myself. I feel empowered and prettier and less distracted. All of a sudden when that wasn’t cutting it for me, I was like, [laughing] No! So, I’ve been experimenting with different products and now I want to create it because I just think it’s a great trick.

Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore shot to fame at age six in the movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, but the actress-producer-author also has a long-standing relationship with beauty. She served as a face of Lancôme and an ambassador and co-creative director of Cover Girl, before introducing her own line, Flower, in 2012. Launched in conjunction with Maesa Group, the brand is sold exclusively in Wal-Mart. This fall, Flower is entering the fragrance category with a trio of mood-based scents.

Gucci Westman
Born in California, raised in Sweden and educated in Paris at the Christian Chauveau Ecole de Maquillage, Gucci Westman is one of the most sought-after makeup artists on the global style scene. She has become the go-to artist for celebrities including Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow and Cameron Diaz and photographers such as Mario Testino and Patrick Demarchelier. Westman serves as the global artistic director of Revlon.

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