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Exclusive: Celebrity Makeup Artist Mario Dedivanovic on Arab Beauty and the Look That Kim Kardashian West Wasn’t Ready For

Photo: Instagram/@makeupbymario

While he’s best known as Kim Kardashian West’s go-to beauty guru since 2008, Mario Dedivanovic has carved out his own loyal following with his signature soft glam looks and affable tutorials. With almost 10 million Instagram followers, the American-Albanian launched his own makeup brand, the self-explanatory Makeup By Mario, in early 2020.

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Appearing in Dubai at City Centre Mirdif’s Style Station exhibit over the weekend, the celebrity makeup artist gave an exclusive talk on the future of beauty, followed by a meet-and-greet with fans. During his centre stage talk, he announced that Makeup By Mario would also be expanding to the Middle East, with plans to launch in the region in 2022. Targeted to the “everyday girl”, Dedivanovic’s brand of curated eye, face and lip textures and shades is tailored to helping the non-celebrities among us to achieve an elevated beauty look. “While I’m a professional, very technical artist, Makeup By Mario is for everyone, where you don’t need to have that complex training of experience,” he tells Vogue Arabia.

Mario Dedivanovic speaking at City Centre Mirdif’s Style Station. Photo: Courtesy of City Centre Mirdif.

Sitting down with Dedivanovic following his City Centre Mirdif appearance, the celebrity makeup artist shared with Vogue Arabia his plans for the future, and what happens when Kim Kardashian West isn’t into a beauty look.

Vogue Arabia: How does it feel to be back in Dubai?

Mario Dedivanovic: “Dubai is always so hospitable, and there’s a certain energy and connection I have with the women in Dubai. They’ve always been so supportive of me and my career, and they love beauty, there’s no denying that.”

Have you noticed any changes in regional beauty trends since you were last here in 2017?

“I didn’t think there would be major differences, but you’ve surprised me! The makeup looks I’m seeing around me today in Dubai are much more toned down than they were during my last visit in 2017. I’ve stopped to look and there’s a lot less contour, a lot less powder. It’s refreshing to see as really the women in this region don’t need a lot of makeup and the softer, lighter approach works beautifully.”

Working so closely with Kim Kardashian West, and over such a long period, have you ever disagreed on a look?

“I think that’s the beauty of working with a celebrity who has their main person who they’ve worked with for so many years. Kim can trust me, relax and get her own work done while I’m working on her. Often times we don’t even discuss the look ahead of time, she sits down, I do my thing, and we’re done. If we’re doing something big or with a brand, then we will go through the look, or sometimes she will be like I want to try this, or I’m feeling that, but generally she has so much trust in me, thankfully, that we don’t even need to discuss it ahead of time.”

And is there anything she’s said ‘no’ to?

“I think over the years I’ve pushed her try things, like going a little more natural. I can remember one time she wouldn’t have wanted to do this deep blue eyeshadow, I knew immediately she would be like “no!”. So I did it kind of secretly, without her seeing, and then she loved it in the end when she looked in the mirror.”

Tell us about launching Makeup By Mario.

“We will be launching Makeup By Mario in the Middle East in 2022, so I’m extremely excited about that. I launched the brand in my 20th year as an artist, which has been part of my plan for a long time. I’m a little old school where I feel like you have to pay your dues. When I was like 17 and first starting out, I was looking up to my idols who had their own makeup lines, and had been in the business for 20-plus years, so I had set y mind to think if I make it that long, then I can also launch my own brand after 20 years. It was the most challenging thing `I’ve ever done in my life, and discovering exactly how complicated creating products can be. Then launching in the middle of a pandemic made everything more difficult than it already was, but thankfully we got through it with successful launch.”

Mario Dedivanovic speaking at City Centre Mirdif’s Style Station. Photo: Courtesy of City Centre Mirdif.

So much of your social media presence is about educating on how to use products or to try a new trend. Has this direction change with the launch of Makeup By Mario?

“Education is a core pillar of my brand, like if we’re not teaching you how to use something, then there’s not point in it. I want to go that extra step in helping and teaching people. I don’t know how to Tiktok yet, but I’m learning! Instagram is what I know really well, but I’m learning about platforms like Tiktok because it’s cool to take snippets of my work and share online.”

You’ve been so busy this last year, have you had time for self care and to recharge?

I haven’t been able to take much time for myself, with the brand launch and then covid, plus I take my regular clients as well. Taking a vacation is on my list of goals! But then there’s always just one more job, another week, and that relaxation time gets pushed back. I could be better at selfcare, I tend to prioritize other people over myself, and that’s just the way I am. I keep grounded, I’ve never forgotten where I came from – and if I did, my family would remind me very quickly!”

Your exclusive talk at Dubai’s City Centre Mirdif discussed the future of beauty – how are you feeling about what’s in store for you and Makeup By Mario?

“I’m feeling optimistic about the future as we expand and develop our team, as we are a tight knit start-up. I have a really clear view for the brand and its future now. If I’m being honest with you – and a lot of people only share the highlights – the fear I experienced throughout my launch was crippling to me, really crippling to me. I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing or saying the right thing, I felt like I needed approval from the executives I had hired, almost to the point where I didn’t know myself anymore. But thankfully I got through it and I feel like I’m back to the old me. It’s like a new career, like a rebirth.”

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