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Erin Parsons Is the Biggest Name In Makeup You Haven’t Heard Yet

And Gigi Hadid is already on board.

Erin Parsons is something of a walking encyclopedia. The makeup artist’s East Village apartment is stacked with the books and movies she collects, and her iPhone is another story — she’s got about 5,000 images saved in case she needs a quick reference on set. “My whole goal in life is to know every reference that exists on Earth,” said Parsons, who got her start assisting Pat McGrath and now travels the globe with client Gigi Hadid, working on campaigns for Reebok, Tommy Hilfiger and Maybelline. Parsons — who is keying shows this week for Alice + Olivia, La Perla and LRS — is rumored to be signing a contract with Maybelline, but she was mum on the subject. So was Maybelline.

WWD: How did you get into makeup?
Erin Parsons: I was in the Air Force for a short time — I lived in a small town in Ohio and didn’t know what to do with myself [after high school]. But I really liked watching old movies and playing with makeup. After I got out [of the Air Force] I needed a job so I went to work at the Lancôme counter at Dillard’s and I loved it. I went from Lancôme to MAC and did that for a really long time. And then I started to have bigger dreams and think, ‘Hm what if I went to New York and tried it out?’ My first show ever was with Pat McGrath. Her first assistant was a friend of mine from Ohio. I got to know Gigi really well while working the shows. Gigi is funny, a little bit tomboy and a little bit down to earth but loves makeup. We really work on what her look is.

WWD: How does Gigi like to do her makeup on her off days?
E.P.: We always do bronzer. [It] makes her feel like she’s healthier [looking]. Even when I’m not there she’ll do a bronze and a little bit of glow on the skin. She taught me this —she takes this peachy Maybelline blush over the eyelids and it creates a peachy-tone that gives the skin a bit of life. Mascara, a little lip balm – she really doesn’t wear a lot of makeup. She sends me pictures sometimes — she did ombré eyeliner on her friend and I was like, ‘That looks sick’. She actually knows how to do makeup, I just don’t think she has the patience most of the time. She likes to play.

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WWD: What trends are you seeing right now?
E.P.: The biggest trend is people experimenting and trying new things, wanting to do something unique, finding what it is that suits them. I like to experiment with weird materials that aren’t technically makeup. I’ll go to a craft store. I think what we’re going to see is people experimenting — using nail products on the face. I see people doing that stuff on Instagram. But with Instagram, you can’t really [predict] trends. The mermaid look I did [for a Maybelline campaign] on Gigi — who knew that was going to become a trend? We were just playing.

Erin Parsons started her career assisting Pat McGrath and now travels the globe with client Gigi Hadid
Erin Parsons started her career assisting Pat McGrath and now travels the globe with client Gigi Hadid Photo by Jenna Greene

WWD: And what trends will we see at New York Fashion Week?
E.P.: One thing I hope I’ll see this season is makeup, because last year it didn’t feel like anyone really did anything. It looks cool when a girl owns herself but we want a show, don’t we? You want to be excited to watch something.

WWD: What is inspiring your work right now?
E.P.: I’ve gotten to season five of ‘Dynasty’. It’s 1983 and Joan Collins comes out with all that makeup and hair — that is so inspiring. I told Gigi, ‘I swear we’re going to do a shoot and I’m doing you up like that.’