Bridget Moynahan. Eva Mendes. Milla Jovovich. Zooey Deschanel. What do all of these celebrities have in common? The fabulous makeup artist Fiona Stiles. In addition to makeup up tons of stars throughout her career, Fiona's work has appeared in everything from Marie Claire and Elle to campaigns for Revlon. Her career has been truly fascinating -- read on to discover more.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I grew up just north of San Francisco. At 18 I went as far east as I could go, heading to Providence to study photography at the Rhode Island School of Design. Right after school I moved to New York City, where I quickly learned that I was a pretty bad photo assistant. As amazing as school was, it was very, very fine-art oriented and I wasn't even remotely prepared for the technical side of being an assistant.
How did you first become interested in makeup, and what led you to become a makeup artist?
I have always loved makeup, I'm sure like most makeup artists. There are photos of me at 3 putting makeup on all of the other girls at my birthday party. There is something about the colors and textures that are just irresistible. I still remember a beautiful yellow nail polish I had in grade school called Maize and a stunning metallic silver eyeshadow that I had when I was 10. I can still imagine the texture of it on my fingers.
In art school I always did makeup for friends' films or projects. And after being in New York for about 2 months, I just fell into doing makeup. And thank god, because as I said, I wasn't a very good photo assistant! But it was so much harder back then. In 1993, there was no internet, just the phone book, so I would look through magazines and then look up makeup artists in the white pages and ask them if they needed an assistant. Makeup agencies weren't in the phone book, modeling agencies weren't in the yellow pages, so if you didn't know the names of the agencies, you were out of luck. If you didn't know how it all worked, you had to work hard to figure it out. It took a lot of ingenuity to get work and to meet people. There were no reality shows or books about becoming a makeup artist. Eventually I gathered numbers of agencies and met people and started working.
I wish I could say it happened overnight, but it didn't. I never worked at a counter or in a store. I worked at a cafe so I could have flexible hours, and worked on testing and getting my portfolio together during the day.
Have you worked with any makeup artists who inspired you? What did they teach you?
I had the great pleasure of working with Pat McGrath for a number of years. She is so completely inspiring to watch. Plus as a young makeup artist, it was amazing to get to go to Paris and Milan twice a year and work on the shows with her. Working on Prada, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Commes des Garcons, was incredible.
Being able to be on a set with Steven Meisel while Pat created amazing looks for Italian Vogue, American Vogue and some of the most memorable campaigns was an honor.
I find that we makeup artists are a bit precious about makeup, myself included. But what was so amazing and inspiring about Pat is that she would just swipe an eyeliner on, or press on some color, or boldly draw on a brow with inky black kohl liner. She isn't timid or cautious but fearless and physical with makeup and takes amazing chances, producing the most remarkable results. I am very grateful for my time with her.
Kevyn Aucoin is someone I would have loved to work with. I do wish I had the opportunity to work with him before he died. His ability to transform was remarkable.
What are some of the moments that have stood out as highlights in your career?
I had the wonderful experience of doing a tour and a movie with Madonna. That was a fantastic time.
I have worked with David Bowie for the last 7 years, and I have never met a more wonderful, kind and funny person. Plus, working with one of your idols is always a highlight.
Many years ago, when I was assisting, we went to Cape Town, South Africa for a Versace benefit show. Everyone involved with the show was invited to Nelson Mandela's house to meet him. What other job would allow a 27-year-old former art school student to meet Nelson Mandela? I was literally speechless when I shook his hand.
What are the products and brands you simply can't live without?
1) BY TERRY Baume de Rose SPF 15. A delicious lip balm.
2) Tweezerman tweezers. Replace yours once a year.
3) Kevyn Aucoin The Precision Brow Pencil.
4) Kevyn Aucoin Candlelight highlighter and Sculpting Powder.
5) Prescriptives Softlining Pencil in Jet.
6) Embryolisse Moisturizer. The one you get in Paris is different than the one they sell here.
What are your top 3 makeup tips?
1) I love taupe eyeliner on the inside rim of the eye. It's not as severe as brown or black, but it gives you a sexy eye that is still sultry but soft.
2) Don't be afraid of makeup. It's just pigment, it comes off.
3) Keep on top of your brows. Nicely tweezed and groomed brows make you look pulled together, even if you aren't wearing makeup.
What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
I cherish the fact that every day is something new. A new crew, a new location, a new face to work on. I may not be able to tell you what day of the week it is -- there are no weekends with this job, a Sunday is a Tuesday is a Friday. But I can tell you that I have been [to] some amazing places and met some incredible people.