Friday, August 2, 2013

First Look Fridays: M.A.C Cosmetics Senior Makeup Artist Victor Cembellin

M.A.C Cosmetics, MAC Cosmetics, M.A.C Cosmetics Senior Makeup Artist Victor Cembellin, makeup artist, interview, beauty interview, First Look Fridays
There are certain makeup artists with whom I just end up immediately forming a special bond. M.A.C Cosmetics Senior Makeup Artist Victor Cembellin, is one of those people. I first met Victor at Fashion Week back in 2009, and I was instantly taken with two things: his pure skill when it came to makeup application and his ability to talk about makeup and trends so eloquently. He's a positive force in his role for M.A.C and a true joy to be around! Read on to find out how his love of beauty began, the favorite mascara we have in common and so much more.

How did you first become interested in makeup, and what led you to become a makeup artist?
I was born and raised in Pleasanton, California and am the youngest of three children. Growing up, I was very involved in track and field, and eventually competed in the Junior Olympics for Discus. I was set for this track (pardon the pun) -- until I saw an audition flyer for the musical Bye Bye Birdie at my high school. I was immediately hooked. I quickly traded my track uniform for fun costumes, and of course theater makeup.

After taking my final bow on stage, I shifted my theater efforts to backstage, honing and developing my theatrical artistry craft. I was 18 when I decided to explore a career as a beauty makeup artist. Inspired by Linda Evangelista and Madonna and their chameleon-like ability to reinvent their look, I began working for M.A.C at the Nordstrom in Walnut Creek back in the mid 90s. Falling back on my on-stage theatrical roots, I made an easy transition into corporate training for the brand and ultimately took on my current role as a Senior Makeup Artist for North America.

Victor Cembellin, The Blonds, New York Fashion Week backstage, makeup artist
Smiling with Victor backstage at The Blonds during New York Fashion Week

What do you love most about working with M.A.C?
M.A.C has always been a brand that celebrates self-decoration and self-expression. Traveling around the world, I’ve had the opportunity to visit various M.A.C locations and check out the wonderfully expressive artists and customers from that region. The makeup artists are always incredibly gifted and creative and remind me of the spirit on which our brand was founded.

Victor Cembellin, Gregory Arlt, M.A.C Cosmetics makeup artist, backstage, New York Fashion Week, Erin Fetherston
Hanging with Victor and another one of my favorite makeup artists, Gregory Arlt, backstage at Erin Fetherston

What are some of the moments that stand out as highlights in your career?
There are so many to choose from. It’s hard to pick just one, so here are three:

1) Shortly after becoming a M.A.C Senior Artist, I was booked to touch up my first celebrity at a charity event -- Liza Minelli. Though I was just there to powder and ensure she was camera ready, we bonded quickly. Just four days later, we were on a private jet together crossing the country. Me, Liza, her assistant and her puppy; it was thrilling. I soon became her “makeup artist of choice.”

2) Working Fashion Week in Europe for the first time was an out-of-body experience. Being scheduled to work on major shows like Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Gareth Pugh and Chloe was such an honor. It was then I began to understand not only the scope of M.A.C's presence within the fashion industry, but it also validated my own identity as a makeup artist. My mom was so proud.

3) I was scheduled to do Linda Evangelista’s makeup for a charity event in Toronto. We spent the evening together (as she was hosting the event and I was needed for touchups), and to say she was lovely, gracious, gorgeous, genuine and warm would be an understatement. We talked for hours about fashion, the “supermodel group” she is so famously associated with, her family, traveling, you name it. She let me gush, and I was able to explain that she was the reason that I had become a makeup artist so many years ago! It was an unbelievable “full circle moment” to be able to share my gift with the person that inspired me towards this career!

What are your top 5 favorite M.A.C products?
M.A.C Cosmetics Eye Kohl Fascinating, M.A.C eyeliner, eyeliner, makeup, eye makeup
M.A.C Cosmetics Eye Kohl in Fascinating. Easily my favorite product from M.A.C. By eliminating the pink waterline from inside the eye, you can take years off the look of tired eyes!

M.A.C Cosmetics, M.A.C Cosmetics Eye Shadow Soft Brown, eyeshadow, eye shadow, eye makeup
M.A.C Cosmetics Eye Shadow in Soft Brown. This is the best romantic brown, and is universally flattering. It really makes the eyes look as if they are being lit by candle light.

M.A.C Cosmetics, M.A.C Cosmetics Bronzing Powder Bronze, makeup, bronzer, bronzing powder
M.A.C Cosmetics Bronzing Powder in Bronze. The “Goldilocks” of bronzers: not too gold, not too red, not too orange and just right!

M.A.C Cosmetics, M.A.C Cosmetics makeup brush, M.A.C Cosmetics 168 Large Angled Contour Brush, makeup brush
M.A.C Cosmetics 168 Large Angled Contour Brush. It’s like having three blush brushes in one. Since it is sculpted at a gentle angle, use the butt of the brush to contour the cheekbones, the soft tip to apply cheek highlighters, or use straight on for powder!

M∙A∙C Cosmetics Haute & Naughty Lash. A magician amongst mascaras -- the packaging design allows the user to choose their application intensity within two distinct options. A Haute application, a lighter coat of mascara, is perfect for day, while Naughty is a fuller application for evening. The formula is fantastic: chip and smudge resistant while creating the perfect lash fanfare.

Victor Cembellin, Nanette Lepore Fashion Week, backstage, makeup artist, model
Victor working backstage at Nanette Lepore during Fashion Week
What are your top 3 makeup tips?
1) I have a golden rule: It’s always easier to ADD another layer of makeup than it is to remove a layer of makeup. Build your looks up slowly in seamless layers, especially those smoky-eyed looks.

2) The rearview mirror of your car tells no lies! I always remind women that no matter how incredible they look in their vanity at home, you should always check your makeup outside in full light. This will ensure foundation looks perfect, colors are blended and lines are straight!

3) Don’t skimp on makeup brushes! While it’s exciting to buy fashion-forward colors to add to your makeup collection, ultimately it’s the tools you use that will determine the quality of how these colors are applied.

Being a makeup artist must be fun, but what do you do in your spare time?
The love of my life is my dog, Pinto Bean! I rescued him in traffic after returning from Paris Fashion Week three years ago. He was scared, I was jet-lagged and we instantly became best friends. We enjoy Dolores Park in San Francisco, hikes in the Oakland Hills, Stinson Beach outside of the city and even an occasional trip to a dog-friendly bar!

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