Plus, why he won’t be participating in a pantsless Zoom meeting anytime soon.
“I’m not a makeup artist, but I am a creative person who wants to express himself,” says designer Marc Jacobs, a larger-than-life fixture of the fashion world who never fails to put on a show—even from his bathroom at the Mercer Hotel in New York City, where he’s hosting a “Zoom-torial” alongside celebrity makeup artist Sarah Tanno (a beauty guru best known for her work with another over-the-top icon, Lady Gaga). “The urgency for me is getting right into that pot of color and just smearing it across my face, making a shape or something like that. I am not trying to come across as someone who knows what they’re doing—I’m trying to come across as somebody who knows what they’re feeling.”
The one thing none of us are short on these days are feelings, so why not make the most of them? At least that’s Jacobs’ approach to quarantine and new precautionary measures like face masks (a look he celebrated in 2007 on the Louis Vuitton runway when a dozen models dressed as nurses donned monogrammed iterations). “I’m a big believer in safety first. I have a mask, and I just thought, ‘Wow, masks are such an opportunity to go really into your eyes,’” he says while gazing at a camera that is most likely propped up against an empty box of Kashi cereal. “So if you’ve got to wear a mask—which is something I recommend, and so do other people who know better than me—I think, what a great opportunity to just work this shit.”
As luck would have it, Jacobs’ eponymous beauty brand recently rolled out two new launches that help amplify the assets we can still safely show off during a global pandemic: At Lash’d Lengthening and Curling Mascara and Brow Wow Duo (a product he started road-testing two years ago when Tanno did his makeup for the Met Gala). His latest mascara is inspired by lash legends like Diana Ross, images of which are “embedded in my computer,” Jacobs says, pointing to his head. This formula is designed to create a “day version” of that spidery look without fussing with false eyelashes, he adds. As for arches, the two-in-one refillable pencil and tinted gel shapes, defines, and strengthens brows—a “hugely important” area for Jacobs, who refuses to Zoom or FaceTime anyone without first tending to the hair above his eyes.
As beauty aficionados from all over the world watched Jacobs live finger-paint a vivid violet lid look on himself between drags from his rather ornamental vape pen, the designer doled out precious pearls of beauty wisdom—while wearing a string of pearls and a snap clip, of course. We captured his top tips for posterity and inspiration.
Spotlight your lids
“First of all, I’ve always been an eye guy. I love a great set of lips, and I love lipstick, but where I find self-expression really happens is in the eyes. They’re these little canvases for color and shimmer and shine and shape. Eyes are just so expressive. You could have a whole conversation with someone through their eyes. Even [if a mask covers the majority of my face], I can still raise my eyebrows. I can raise one eyebrow. I can wink. I can look around. I can roll my eyes. It’s all in the eyes. It’s a whole thing.”
Live life in eye-catching color
“For me, summer means white accents and color. That’s the way it is, but it doesn’t have to be crazy. You don’t have to look like a tropical bird or a parrot or a goldfish—unless you want to. But one of the things I really love is a continuous wash of color from the eyebrow to the lash, a little bit of lip gloss, and a lot of mascara. I think that’s a phenomenal look.” That said, Jacobs adds: “Even though Sarah and I are telling you what we do, that by no means excuses you from being creative and finding your own solutions. We encourage you to create, to spread your wings, to use makeup and express yourself. There’s no right or wrong; there’s just what you love.”
Give your brushes a break
“When I see a blue, I just want to shove my finger into that pot. Or a dark green! Or a violet!” exclaims Jacobs who likes to dive fingertips-first into an eyeshadow palette. “One really important secret for finger painting is having a good makeup remover.” His go-to (along with Tanno’s) for refining your makeup: Bioderma. “It’s the shit,” he adds.
Lash out like Liza Minnelli
“The little black dress for me is probably Blacquer Highliner. I always feel like that black line around the eye or in the waterline is the little black dress [of makeup]. I would say eyelashes are the floodlights. They say, ‘We’re here, and we see you!’…They’re the jazz hands of the eye.” Seconds after swiping At Lash’d, he adds, “I feel like Liza [Minnelli]. I mean, I am on!”
Stir up some brow drama
“I like the idea of a very graphic, artificial, strong shape,” says Jacobs of his preference for big and bold arches. “These are my natural brows, but I did dye them a few days ago, so they’re very dark. I use [Brow Wow Duo] no matter what. I don’t go anywhere or do anything. I don’t Zoom or FaceTime anybody without it… On a daily basis, I use dark brown, but I like the black for evening.”
Show yourself some love
“I don’t care if I have nothing on my schedule. Although I’ve always been this way, I find that now, more than ever, I have to shower. I have to pray. I have to meditate. I have to put stuff in my hair to slick it back. I have to choose my barrette. I have to wear my clothes. I have to feel good about myself because I cannot be creative or useful or of service without showing myself self-love. I think the rituals that I have in my life have only taken on greater importance. I’ve come to really appreciate the time that I have in the bathroom and the time I have to play with my face and makeup. Honestly, I can tell you that once everything is done, I’m even more hyper than I am right now. I’m more creative and I’m more capable of being of service to other people because I’ve loved myself. That’s why I think it’s hugely important to look at clothes and makeup and fragrance as essential. Otherwise we’d all be sitting here with a loaf of bread, a bottle of water, naked and Zooming. I don’t think you want to see me Zooming naked. Well, maybe you do, I don’t know… I’m wearing high heels. I don’t do this thing where everyone’s sitting around in these Zoom meetings and they’re probably in boxers or briefs or panties. I’ve got the full drag going, honey! I put on the high heels. I put on the socks. My nails are polished. My manicure and my pedicure—I’ve done it all myself. There’s not a spot on me that hasn’t got some love and care.”
Find the silver lining
“In my opinion, [COVID-19] is affecting all of us in every way, and we’re not really far enough along in this process to know what the answers are [for the future]. But if it doesn’t affect everyone, all levels, then we won’t have learned anything from it… Whether this means we go out and we are our true selves, naked and with nothing, or whether this means we go back to the way we always were—or whether, for some, it means an opportunity to adapt and to accept and to express themselves; that’s the way I’d like to see it. I don’t know what the answer is. I know what my feelings are, and those are them.” As for the time being, Jacobs is facing every day with plenty of positivity: “I think instead of looking at [a face mask] as a hindrance, look at it as an opportunity to decorate that mask or wear a pretty mask; and use it as an opportunity to decorate and play with what’s left, which are the eyes. Instead of feeling like you’ve lost something, think about it as a gain. I’ve gained this perfect thing to frame my face and let my eyes really pop.”
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