In case you think I only read serious non-fiction, here are some entirely frivolous books I’ve read recently. Making Faces and Face Forward are instructional makeup books by the now deceased, internationally renowned makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin.
Aucoin divides his books into sections, covering everything from tools and necessary makeup, basic makeup application, makeovers of everyday people and celebrities, visionary makeup looks, and transformations of one person into another (say, Tina Turner into Cleopatra).
The advice Aucoin gives regarding basic makeup application, as well as his transformations of “everyday” people (read: not models or actors) is valuable. He somehow manages to use the most minimal makeup application, yet transforms his subjects. It’s lovely to see how happy they look, as for many, this is the first time they’ve really been pampered before. His inclusion of those affected by HIV/AIDS, complete with personal narrative, is touching.
His celebrity makeovers can be stunning – particularly when he manages to completely transform one person into another. Amber Valletta as both Gable and Lombard was a particular favourite.
So far, so good. Now for the bad. Aucoin “makes up” white actors in what can’t be described as anything but yellowface, with eye tape and all (sadly still used in the makeup industry to give an “ethnic” appearance). This is not the only instance he attempts to darken his subject’s skin, or give them the “appearance” of another ethnicity. Why he could not find models of that ethnicity to begin with is unclear, as he includes an otherwise diverse cast throughout the book.
It’s disappointing that someone who collaborated on one of the world’s first mass-market makeup lines for a variety of skintones (Revlon’s New Nakeds in the 80s) and who warned explicitly against the idea that “different is bad, and that otherness is something to be feared” didn’t consider the implications of such shoots.