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One Celeb Makeup Pro Reveals His Red-Carpet Inspo


“Right before Lupita left for the 2014 Oscars.” Photo: Nick Barose

We won’t know who will come out on top for the best beauty moment of the Golden Globes until the glitterati hit the red carpet tomorrow night, but there’s a pretty good chance that Lupita Nyong’o will be in the running. The man who’s been behind her many looks from the very beginning, Nick Barose, reveals what’s on his mind as we embark on yet another season of statues, stilettos, and star-studded soirees.


“McCurry’s colorful photographs always inspire my work.” Photo: Steve McCurry

Where do you find inspirations for the colorful looks you create during awards season?

I love using bold colors, and when you draw inspiration from nature, it helps you to use strong colors that flow together harmoniously so it doesn’t look garish or random. Lancôme just launched these gorgeous new eye shadow palettes, and the one designed by me and named by Lupita is called Jacaranda Bloom. It’s a gorgeous palette of purple colors that look like flower petals, so I’m hoping to incorporate it into some of the looks. I’m also thinking about the beautiful, exotic photographs by National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry.


“Lancôme’s new Jacaranda Bloom eyeshadow palette inspired by electric purple flowers.” Photo: Getty; Lancôme

What’s your favorite music to play while getting someone ready?

I love a lot of sexy ’70s disco. It’s such feel-good music to groove to while doing makeup. I like “I Want Your Love” by Chic, “Forget Me Nots” by Patrice Rushen, and “Best of My Love” by The Emotions. My clients also have great taste in music. Lupita has such eclectic taste; she listens to everything from Bruno Mars to Snoop Dogg. Tessa [Thompson] is a musician, so I always pick up some fun playlists every time I work with her. Last time I [did Tessa’s makeup], she played “Africa” by Toto. I forgot about that song, so I added it to my playlist!

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How do keep the looks fresh every season? I feel like it’s easy to fall into the classic red lip or smoky eye trap.

I’m a creature of habit, and I realized that if I love [a certain] lipstick or eye shadow so much that I already used it on more than two people, then I need to take it out of my kit. I never go with what color is “trendy.” Each actress I work with is unique, so I just let her guide me. For last awards season, I did about 60-plus events with Lupita and I never used the same lipstick on her twice! Luckily, I work with cool women that also love to play, so we don’t get stuck in a rut of “Oh, this is my signature lip color and I wear it on every red carpet.” How boring would my job be?


“Photographing flowers helps me inspect colors and textures more carefully. I see really unique things that inspire my makeup work.” Photo: Nick Barose

Which old-Hollywood stars serve as your muses?

I grew up watching a lot of classic movies with my mom. She’s a fan of Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly, and Vivien Leigh. I don’t always try to do an exact [replica], because it would look too retro. The key is just to get the vibe and then make it work on the faces [in my chair]. I also draw inspiration from a lot of foreign films. I recently rewatched The Last Emperor and was so blown away by how beautiful and glamorous 1920s makeup was on Joan Chen. I might do a modern version of her brows for one of the looks this season. I work with a lot of interesting actresses, so while I might bring in classic elements such as Grace Kelly’s elegant brows or Audrey Hepburn’s dramatic liner, I try to make it my own and definitely adapt it to the person. I’ve got to keep it fresh and modern with a classic [twist]. After all, the red carpet is not a costume party—at least not for me or my clients.


“Joan Chen in The Last Emperor”

What is your favorite part of awards season?

The reunion! We all get to see one another all the time for a few months, and then not so much. I look forward to seeing the entire glam squad and my clients. When you get a roomful of artists together, we feed off each other’s creative energy, and that’s when the magic happens.


Photo: Nick Barose

—Amber Kallor,

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