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This article appeared in Beauty Biz, a special publication to WWD available to subscribers.
Forget products. This spring, the most anticipated launch for industry insiders is the publication of Lucky beauty director Jean Godfrey June’s riveting (and revealing) autobiography Free Gift With Purchase: My Improbable Careers in Magazines and Makeup. Godfrey June reveals the reality behind the beauty closet door (a particularly hilarious passage involves her being shot by some of the world’s top fashion photographers), as well the top tips she’s picked up along the way.
Q: What inspired you to write the book?
JGJ: It’s a memoir peppered with beauty tips—not the kind of tips where you need a diagram and an instruction sheet, but the little things that have stuck in my mind, like pat, don’t rub [concealer]. The essential thing about beauty is the fun of it, and the fact that everyone relates to it—that’s what I wanted to write about.
Q: You write that your father’s favorite breakfast is tuna on burned toast, topped with molasses and ketchup. Strange! What’s the weirdest dish you’ve ever been served at a beauty event?
JGJ: I once went on a press trip to an obscure island off of Samoa. I didn’t have time to get the necessary shots; since the trip was only four days, the doctor said to just bring bottled water and food bars and I’d be fine. The first day, we crowded into a large hut to meet the important tribe operatives. We sat in a circle, our feet underneath us so as to avoid the hideous faux pas of pointing them at anyone. A bowl, some dirty village water and a kava root was produced, and the kava was smashed up in the bowl. It was then passed around, and there was no not drinking from it. They would’ve been horribly insulted. The entire trip involved politely consuming whatever was offered, including hiding the mostly-raw chicken under a banana leaf. Still, it was one of the best experiences of my career.
Q: You were the first to write about Bobbi Brown, for a piece in Vogue. Who’s on your radar screen now?
JGJ: I’m really interested in Jemma Kidd and her makeup school—it’s a great concept, she’s so appealing, the makeup’s great. I’m also completely obsessed by everything Douglas Little makes—he’s just so imaginative and inspiring. I also love the new way organic is being approached.
Q: An enormous part of the beauty editor job involves going out to eat. What are your favorite restaurants?
JGJ: DB Bistro Moderne—because it’s the only good restaurant close to my office that doesn’t make you wait until 4 o’clock for the check. I love Fred’s at Barneys for the multitasking it enables, Indochine and The Four Seasons—especially if I can bypass all the fabulousness in the Grill Room (not that I don’t make sure to check it out on the way in) and instead sit poolside in the Pool Room with scrambled eggs and caviar.
Q: This spring, we’re all going to be reading your book. What’s on your reading list?
JGJ: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion—actually, anything by Joan Didion; On Beauty by Zadie Smith (contains nothing about the beauty industry, p.s.); Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer; On Photography by Susan Sontag, and The Women by Hilton Als.