Beautylish had the chance to catch up with Chanel Celebrity Makeup Artist Angela Levin-- the beauty expert who created Sandra Bullock's and Nicole Kidman's stunning faces at this years Academy Awards. "I enjoy looking at gorgeous stars and making them look beautiful," says Levin, "I love seeing everyone in the industry at the Oscars. We get our own personal red carpet backstage. It's a magical time." Keep reading for Levin's awards show secrets from the 2011 Oscars.
B: What was your first awards show experience like with a celebrity? Who was your first celebrity look?
I remember my first Golden Globes experience—Goldie Hawn! It was a LONG time ago. I was very touched that she asked me to do her Golden Globes makeup. Back then I was just a movie and special effects makeup artist. I didn't do big red carpets yet—I didn't know what red carpet makeup meant. I just went over to her house and Goldie had her team there with Kate [Hudson], it was a party. I just knew that I had to make her look very pretty. I was overwhelmed by their outfits and how beautiful they looked. Everyone was laughing and exchanging tips. Paul Star was doing Kate Hudson's makeup at the time—he was such a wonderful artist. As a makeup artist, you don't get to be in a room usually with another artist on awards show day, so it was great. You just want to stop and stare at what they're doing. I remember telling Paul " I cant wait to come over here and see what you're doing!" Throughout the years, more events came about—I've learned so much more and gained so much experience.
B: How does Red Carpet makeup differ than regular event makeup?
From a makeup artist's perspective, there's a ton of pressure on us. The looks we create are viewed by millions of people, whether it's audiences sitting at home, friends, beauty editors, or publicists—this is our most criticized piece of work. How celebrities look on the red carpet and on camera dictates your credibility as a working artist. It also, in a weird way, determines who wants to hire you for future events.
Every artist has a different process for Red Carpet. I usually have two to four clients, I hardly ever do just one girl. So, when you do more than one person, you don't want to make them look all the same. You have to plan your day. Sometimes, it's easy to do a similar makeup because the camera doesn't pick up the little shade variations that the naked eye can see—its very easy to make people look all the same. You have to be aware of that. You sort of treat it as an individual job. That takes planning.
B: How much does the hair/dress/jewelry influence your makeup look?
It all starts with the dress. You see the dress as the biggest part of the whole look, so you really want the face or hair to work with the dress. You achieve a home run when you create a total look that fits together. Consider the dress before anything.
B: What's the process of planning your kit for a red carpet event like this?
Every makeup artist has their own process and routine. Usually I get my kit, open it up and go through everything. There's a room in my house called "The Makeup Room," literally floor-to-ceiling drawers of every makeup imaginable! I go through the drawers before an event and pick items that get me excited to use for a particular client. I actually have a verbal conversation with my makeup in that room, people think I'm talking to someone, but it's just me and the makeup—we're partners! It's a ritual I do before every awards show. If I have multiple clients, I create a basic hand-carry bag that has all the options I'll need for each client.
B: Tell us about a typical awards show day for you.
The day before the actual event is a VERY long day. The Independent Spirit Awards are the day before, final meetings about Oscars, planning our schedules, talking to our agents—there are a lot of things involved. I usually have a car service that day, who wants to deal with L.A. parking? Sometimes we have assistants to help us. I'm fortunate to work with a lovely lady who's been with me for years.
Everything is very much pre-planned, to the minute, there's very little wiggle room. First off, my day starts with a delicious cup of coffee, then I finalize my kit and ideas. I make sure to wear comfortable but presentable attire because I see a lot of industry peers that day. I make sure to bring my credentials and paperwork. I go to my first appointment, usually I finish earlier than necessary, it's a nice surprise. Then I head on over to my next appointment. Part of the stress is actually getting to the Oscar's to touch up clients. This year, however, I felt it was so well planned and organized, such a relief! We really had time to enjoy the show and see all the other clients we've done. In the downtime, we schmooze, say hello, plan our lunches/dinners/drinks for the next few months. And at the end of the day, our team always finishes our day with a huge meal and a glass of wine. We go home with a very good feeling of accomplishment. Post-Oscar's is a calmer schedule, we get excited about our days off. It's a very fun week.
Q: How was the process of coming up with the Oscar look for Sandra and Nicole? How did they feel on Oscar day?
With Nicole [Kidman] and Sandra [Bullock], they're friends and regular clients. We have opportunities to meet ahead of time to talk about the Oscar look and we always see the few final dresses ahead of time to get the creative juice flowing. We [the styling team] can envision the dress on the red carpet with the appropriate hair and makeup. That doesn't mean that things can't change abruptly on the day of the event. That happens. Because you're so stressed as an artist, its important for you to completely plan ahead.
Nicole and Sandra were in the best possible state of mind, and were very comfortable with how they looked and what they wore. For Sandra, my challenge was to match the exact red of the dress to the lip. This magnificent dress had an orangey-touch to it. The great thing is that I have a huge bag of Chanel red lipsticks. I think that Chanel, compared to most cosmetic companies has the biggest variety of red, the challenge was to find the proper red with the right undertone. The thing about lipsticks, if it looks a certain way in the tube, the body temperature can subtly change the lip color. I needed to find the perfect lip color and had to take into consideration how it turned on Sandra's lip. I was very happy to use Chanel Rouge Coco Lipstick in 'Gabrielle' on her.