Inez van Lamsweerde, Photographer


“I’m very involved on a shoot with the decisions about hair and makeup. I don’t just wait until the model comes out, ready—it’s too much fun! I’m always saying that it’s my Barbie moment. You have live Barbie going on. There is so much you say through hair and makeup about the character you’re trying to portray. Obviously it starts with the clothes, but from the hair to the shoes, every element is very very important to the feeling of the character. And of course I always love mascara—I always ask for more. If there’s nothing on the girl, it’s mascara only.

If I were an era, I’d be the ‘70s in my beauty look. That’s the time when I was a teenager and finding out who I was. I think that is what stays with you, for always, for everyone. It’s when you’re discovering your identity through music, fashion, or hair and make up. That’s where, at least for me, a lot of inspiration comes from. Growing up, I never really thought about a beauty ritual that much. I always just used mascara and put on whatever cream. And I still do. Except when I was thirteen: I was putting baby powder on my face to make it full white. It was all about white skin, no tan ever. I used to have this big eyeliner going all the way across. And the reddest, biggest mouth. I would draw the mouth way bigger than my own—I was obsessed with Sophia Loren and her top lip was bigger than the bottom lip, so I would draw mine that way. But then you’re thirteen, and you have such a baby face! Anything that you put on just sits. When I was young, I tried every kind of makeup, everything. You don’t think about it because your face is like a clean palette. I didn’t care then whether it was making me beautiful or not. I just put it on to experiment.

I love makeup—I love applying makeup—but it’s very uneventful for me. I just don’t use that much. I used to love doing it on myself when I was a young puppy, but now I feel so far out at 48. Jeanine [Lobell] told me to do this, which is her secret: she told me all you need is this Bobbi Brown eye shadow in Flesh, Toast, Slate, and then black. One’s for under your eye, one for the crease, one that you put on the lid, and then that’s it. Plus mascara, always—I use Lancôme Définicils. I’m very low maintenance makeup-wise. It still takes me forever, combing out each eyelash. The Clarins Instant Smooth primer is another makeup thing that I found, that I love. It’s amazing. It actually smoothes everything; it fills in the wrinkles. I just went over to the Clarins counter and there it was! I’m not beyond cruising the beauty aisles. [Laughs] I’m always looking because I have so many ideas for developing a makeup line. So I’m always looking to see if someone is doing what I’d like to be doing at some point in my life, or is it not yet there, or what are they choosing, and what kind of picture do they use, why does that work.

The facialist Tracie Martyn, I think, is incredible and going to her was the start of taking care of myself a lot better. The way she approaches the whole skincare line that she designs with her husband—together they work on all of these products, and then use them with the equipment, like this “Resculptor” machine. Now she has some red light sun-tanning bed that doesn’t give you a tan, but it regenerates all your cells. That is pretty incredible, I have to say. You get out of it and your skin is all moist and springy and juicy. It’s incredible! I don’t get in there that much because I don’t have the time, but I would like to. The plan is always to go once a week but I never manage to go more than once a month. Many people call her their secret weapon. Look at Diane [von Furstenberg], she looks incredible! She’s had no surgery. What I like with Tracie is that you’re very pampered but it actually works miracles too. There’s this enzyme peel I use, you make your skin wet, you put it on, and you let it sit. It’s like a mask. It’s great for when I travel, all jetlag is scrubbed off your face at once. She also gave me the toning cream, which is supposed to be for your body, but then she said Cyndi Lauper came in and put it on her face and looked amazing so now it’s used for the face as well as the body! I use that first and put Benefiance Wrinkle Resist Emulsion by Shiseido over it for the SPF. They used to make one, from the same Benefiance series, that felt way better but unfortunately they keep changing the formulas. But I still use it because it definitely has a more velvety texture than other brands.

Anyway, the morning starts with those two things and then this eye roller by Clinique which I love. The puffy eye thing, I hate it! I keep telling Tracie, your next product has to be something that takes the water out from under your eyes. And then, maybe eight years ago, I found this cream, which I think is a miracle cream. Avène Ysthéal +, it’s unfortunately full of retinol but it’s actually incredible. It was the first time that I had found a cream where you put it on and right away you actually look glowing because it brightens the skin. I remember putting it on a day that a friend was with me—I went upstairs, put it on, came downstairs and she says, ‘Wow, what happened to you?!’ It’s an incredible cream. But because it has retinol, I now try to diminish the use of it. I used to wear it in the day, which you shouldn’t do with anything containing retinol. I didn’t know. I think that’s the general issue—you don’t know. You could have used something else and your skin would have been better, but you never know because you choose that one cream and you think it works, but you don’t know if you could have looked even better with another cream, which I think is the deal with the beauty industry. How will you ever know?

The other thing that I’m obsessed with is Annick Goutal’s Ambre Fétiche perfume. I found it in their store in Paris and ever since I’ve been wearing it, everyone has been telling me, ‘Oh my God. What is that smell?’ People right away are like, ‘I need to know.’ Men, women, it’s fascinating. I’ve never had that with any other perfume I’ve ever used. It’s very interesting for me to encounter that with a fragrance. We’re working on a fragrance ourselves now. We were approached by Ben Gorham who owns Byredo, and he proposed to work on something together. Vinoodh [Matadin, her partner] and I shoot a lot of fragrance campaigns—[Viktor & Rolf] Flowerbomb, Chloé etc. The bottle is there, the fragrance is there, and we are communicating the feeling of that fragrance through a photograph. We were always saying that it would be so interesting to make a fragrance based on an image, which kind of happened with the one we did for Narciso [Rodriguez] ‘For Her’, because that image of Carmen Kass already existed. We had already made that image for Narciso for a fashion ad; it was made in memory of his dear friend Carolyn Bessette. And so we made that, and then he said, ‘You know what, I want that special image to be my fragrance image.’ He had already developed the fragrance and the bottle, but connected it and it works.

So now we said with Ben, why don’t we give you a picture that in our mind, ever since we made it, we always felt like it would be something interesting for fragrance. And I think there are many images from our whole career that we feel are interesting as starting points for fragrances. It’s going to be based on this one picture and it’s going to have the name of the picture—‘Kirsten, 1996’. So he made the fragrance based on the photograph, and on our life, as he has been here to this house. We said, ‘These are the notes that we’ve always been attracted to, and these are the different countries we’re dreaming of; these are the feelings of the upper layer and the lower layer in the picture’, and in talking with him, it sort of became this thing. It has a very oriental feeling to it. It’s a little warm, there’s a woody-ness. There’s Vinoodh and there’s me, and we kind of just pushed them together. But it’s not like saying, this is the Inez and Vinoodh fragrance, we never approached it like that—it’s the ‘Kirsten, 1996’ one. And then mostly it has Ben’s touch, his interpretation of that. Who knows, maybe the next step is us making a real fragrance, but that is a whole other thing. This a good point of entry. It’s super exciting. It’s this little beautiful wooden box with the print and the bottle that we’re going to give to 100 people as a Christmas gift. It won’t be for sale—it’s a thing without any sort of pressure or competition or without anything having to sell. It’s a project for our friends and it’s art.

For my hair in it’s frizzy natural texture I use Moroccan Oil shampoo, conditioner, oil—the whole line. I’ll use the Viviscal pills like medicine, to give my hair a boost in winter. So many of the models told me about Viviscal; they swear by it. And then there’s all my Fekkai shampoos because I go to them to color my hair. I go to Jamie at the downtown salon. They always recommend shampoos and changing them around depending on the weather. I’ve been coloring my hair since I was 21—I’m fully gray. I go every three weeks. I used to do it at home when I was a teenager with a very blue/black dye, my hair never went back to it’s natural color after that. I’ve just started having my hair blown out maybe only in the last two years. Sometimes after a coloring session I’ll ask them to blow it out if I have to go somewhere looking like a less frizzy person, but it’s such a luxury for me. It’s really very recent that I’ve started doing that. Same with things like Tracie, I hardly went for a facial or anything like that.

I like getting older. I actually feel better ever day. The only thing I don’t like about getting older is maybe if there is something physical that doesn’t work as well anymore—like health things. I do worry sometimes that after menopause your face will fall off your skull—the estrogen is starting to go and everything just falls off your face. [Laughs] I don’t want that to happen. But little wrinkles and stuff, I’m not fighting right now. I mean, like I said, the only thing I really don’t like is the puffy eye. But surgery or botox, I can’t imagine doing. I was talking about it with Christy Turlington once, and she was saying, ‘Yeah, if you do all that, you will never know what you would look like old.’ And I agree with that actually. It’s true. But of course, she is going to be so unbelievably gorgeous no matter what age.”

—as told to ITG

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Emily

    I LOVE HER. Inez comes off so down to earth and likeable here, and I like that she isn't fighting anything--not the hair, not time. And she's still the coolest person in the room.

  • Katie

    I absolutely love this post thank you so much for sharing!!

    xx  Katie Carlin-Daily Crush

  • Lillan

    I loved reading this!


  • Gina

    Wow - she is so frank and I love that! Love to know that she is a professional in the beauty/fashion industry and is still down to earth. Nice post, ITG!

  • mlle p

    Inez would be beautiful "fully gray" - I think it would look really cool on her!

  • Fiona

    What a wonderful article about a truly visionary woman. Love her approach to getting older; I think being as cool as she is probably helps matters as well!

    PS: I'd love to smell Kirsten 1996, it sounds amazing.

  • Ah Young

    I will have to try the eye roller thing, I hate puffy eyes in the morning!!

  • Stephanie

    I really liked this post. And that mushroom chair is adorable.

  • G

    Wow is she 48? I'm at the midterm at uni and I look older than her..

    • Fiona

      Lollll! We've all been there, babe.

  • Lili Barbery-Coulon

    a very nice interview Emily, thank you very much for sharing this with us!

  • The Blossom Shed Beauty Blog

    I love these posts so much - my form of voyeurism is sneaking into people's product cabinets and makeup bags - I'm terrible about it! First thing I do when friends come to stay is ask for their toiletry bag and then dump it out on the bed and go through it. So thank your for feeding my obsession!

  • Maggie

    Great post! I also enjoyed how she doesn't view aging as a bad thing. I'm very curious about Bambi sitting next to her in the photo?

  • Jessica

    Wow, what a cool woman. I love that you feature women of all ages here!

  • Marina

    Why is everyone always talking about Viviscal? It is so systematic in these interviews that i cannot decide whether it is truly a wonder product or whether a lot of models or fashion spokespersons have some kind of interest in it.

    • chic noir

      I've only started hearing about Viviscal via this blog but I've heard of women using pre natal vitamins for hair growth like for ever.

      I’m pretty darn curious about Viviscal to be honest with you.

    • Ambience Chaser

      It is sort of ubiquitous, isn't it? I hadn't heard about it before reading this blog, but so many people mention it that I finally caved and decided to try. I started a week ago. I'll let you know if anything happens.

  • The Procrastinator

    So many people are mentioning viviscal....I really want to try it! I've heard though that it only works if you're deficient in the things it gives you, otherwise the difference won't be that noticeable. Any thoughts?

  • roses

    Love that she is embracing her age!

  • Nina

    Another awesome Top Shelf!! A couple of things - Why is Inez concerned about using Retinol? Retinol is a less potent version of Retin -A (retinoic acid) and it is the one product almost all dermatologists agree that everyone should include in their anti-aging skincare regimen. Also, I would love to see some "regular" people's Top Shelves. Maybe some incredibly cool friends of yours Emily who are not known to the public? And we need a skincare update from you Emily!

    • Beatriz

      I share her concern. I had an annoying reaction with a Chantecaille cream once, which had Retinol. Other than that, I never had any problems with their creams before or since. Another product, Peau Vierge, contains both Retinol and SPF. Well, if it has SPF, it is pressuposed that one is to wear it during the day, which is not recommended of Retinol (!) I was so confused with this issue that I bombarded another makeup blog with questions, yet did not get a revelatory answer. Wouldn't it be great if you guys featured a review of it? For the record, I ended up buying PV after all because it provides beautiful, velvety coverage. I haven't replaced it because it seems silly to pay for a product that could potentially be harmful for freckle-prone skin... Any thoughts... Anyone?

      • Avery

        I use Retin-A every night to combat acne. You aren't supposed to use retinoids during the day because they do make your skin more sensitive to the sun. However, depending on the strength SPF, you are probably ok. I'm very pale and have been using it for about two years and have not experienced noticable sensitivity. In reference to Inez's fear of using retinoids every day, it is understandable but even sensitive skin (like mine) does gain a tolerance for retinoids over time, so using it every day isn't harmful

  • chic noir

    *looks at the topic of this week's topshelf*
    *screams and dead faints*

    OMG thanks so much Emily. I've been ultra curious about Mrs. Lamsweerde since reading about her in Fantastic Woman.

    *Now goes back to read article*

  • chic noir

    Oh, and I love that she wears her hair long. I have no idea who started that crap about a woman over a certain age can't wear long hair, pure horse knuckles.

  • Heather

    Regarding Viviscal, I tried it, and it really did seem to make my hair thicker. I think it works by preventing the shedding that would normally happen every day. While I was on it, that blob of hair didn't gather in the drain every day or two like it usually does. HOWEVER! My skin started to look really bad--a cluster of acne developed on my right cheek and chin. I didn't put the two together till I started browsing online, where I found many, many anecdotes from women who broke out while using Viviscal. And it's not just that supplement--if you read the reviews for the Phyto hair growth supplement on Sephora, you'll see the same thing (it's gotta be the biotin in both products). I'm really disappointed--I would have loved to stay on Viviscal. But if you're one of the unlucky people who gets acne from it, it's better to have clear skin than great hair.

    • Nina

      It's not the biotin, which is a form of B vitamin (which actually helps acne prone skin) that is causing breakouts from Viviscal. It is most likely a high Iodine content in Viviscal caused by all the fish/marine products it contains (as does the Phyto supplement). Iodine is a huge culprit in acne and you should always check all your vitamins/supplements to see if they have added Iodine. Although Iodine is necessary element in our diets, we get enough from iodized salt. I had months os terrible skin years ago when I started on a multi-vitamin which had loads of Iodine. It is actually difficult to find multi-vitamins without Iodine as one of the ingredients!

    • Yulia

      I have the same experience from a somewhat different end of this rope - I started taking Eonobiol Purifiant Peau (to clear your skin) and it indeed help but my hair started falling out like crazy. Maybe it makes sense to take supplements for hair AND skin? I don't mind this in theory, if only they weren't that pricey..

  • Heather

    Just wanted to add one more thing to my comment above: I think you have to be prone to acne to begin with for Viviscal to cause a breakout. If you never break out, you can probably use it with no problem.

    • Sinead

      Alas, not necessarily. I've never had an acne problem, but with Viviscal I had both acne and excess facial hair. Fabulous combo! Needless to say, I stopped using it, and when I did the problems disappeared.

    • Sylvia

      That must be it. I have been taking Viviscal for two months after reading about it here and I have noticed fantastic results. No side affects experienced except maybe more frequent trips to my stylist:)

  • KateSouth

    She seems great, so laid back and grounded for someone in her industry.

  • RR

    Really enjoyed this one - it's true that you never know what your face would have looked like on another regimen...the risk of trying different products.

    Would love to see a Top Shelf from a South Asian woman - Freida Pinto, Nandita Das, Padma Lakshmi, or Lakshmi Menon (especially Lakshmi Menon!).

  • Julie Fischer

    What a literally gorgeous profile. And this Lobell secret is so intriguing - I have to check it out for myself.

  • NeenaJ

    I love that all the best secrets seem to come from J. Lobell! Regarding the Viviscal, you could side-step ingestion (and acne) and get some marine extract or "seamollient" from a wholesaler and apply topically to the hair roots. You can also add this ingredient to your face creams as it's the key to La Mer cream.

  • Kelly

    I LOVE Inez! This was a wonderful surprise! I am a big fan of her and her work.

    also, please please please more women of color. ;)

  • anita

    I can't wait to try Viviscal - love reading your work as the women you interview are amazing!

  • Courtney

    Does anyone see that deer? Is it a statue or a pygmy?!
    Anyway, THANK YOU EMILY! This one is fantastic.
    ps- I've been seeing Frankie Paige per the WhoWhatWear girls and am loving her :)

  • nik

    Love this post. Agree with her about Tracie. As for Fekkai hair products, they are not what they used to be. How can they be considered a luxury product when it's on the shelves of Duane Reade & Target.

  • Angela

    When did retinol become bad? I'm fairly young and just went to a derm to get Retin A micro as a preventative. I, of course, only use it at night and plaster high spf on my face during the day. As long as you use spf, what's the danger with retinoids? I feel like I missed something huge there.

  • Hannah

    I also believe what Christy Turlington said "Yeah, if you do all that, you will never know what you would look like old". Why fight it just embrace it and you'll feel wonderful inside and out

  • Jill

    I LOOOVEE the women's jacket! and I have a sort spot for bambis. Really really interesting post. Some great ideas and tips. x. Jill.

  • Alexis

    I loved this! I recently assisted as a co-makeup artists for a small staged theater production. I loved doing the makeup because it was my "Barbie Moment" - after listening to character descriptions, I got to create a look for that particular character. It was so much fun and I'd love to do that again.

    I love the 70's era for beauty inspirations, I was born in 1974 and my mother was young when she had me. I love looking at her old photos, her straight black, Cher hair - penciled in brows, plum lips and her massive collection of flared slacks/jeans.

    Too bad those Byredo scents aren't for sale because they sound awesome. I love the idea of creating a scent based on a photo - it's very telling!

  • Ann

    Is that a real dear? I want a pet little dear!!!!

  • Rocio Frausto

    Inez and Vinoodh are among the most prolific photographers in the fashion industry. Admire the candid and spontaneous nature reflected in the responses.

  • odessa

    Love her work, love her story, love her products! thanks for sharing :)


Bobbi Brown
Bobbi Brown Eyeshadow Mahogany
Lancôme Definicils Waterproof High Definition Mascara
Tracie Martyn
Tracie Martyn Enzyme Exfoliant
Tracie Martyn
Tracie Martyn Shakti Resculpting Cream
Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Day Emulsion SPF 15 PA++
Clinique All About Eyes Serum De-Puffing Eye Massage
Moroccan Oil Treatment for Hair
Viviscal Hair Repair