"I didn’t always want to be a makeup artist; I started as a pastry chef. I went to school for it for three years. I love cooking. I was the second child in my family—my older brother was basically my dad’s boy and I was basically my mom’s boy. I was always in the kitchen with her. I grew up on a farm in Burgundy, France, where my dad was a farmer and winemaker, so all I knew until I was 14 was gardening, pulling the vegetables and flowers—I loved that.
After school, I came to Paris to start working as a pastry chef assistant at a big hotel. All of the guy cooks were super straight, talking about motorbikes, football, and girls. I didn’t mind, but there wasn’t much of a connection with the guests, and cooking for people was, at times, pretty unpleasant. I partied every night at the Palazzo—the Studio 54 of Paris—and I tried pretty much everything. Eventually, that landed me in the hospital for a few days, and I realized I wasn’t doing what was right for me. I met a girl shortly after who said she was in makeup school. I didn’t even realize people needed makeup artists—I just thought everyone did their own makeup. I was partying when I met this woman, but that idea stuck with me. So I checked out her school, Christian Chauveau L'Ecole Technique Privée de Maquillage Artistique, picked up some information, and told my parents the good news—I’m gay, I’m going to quit my job, and I’m going to be a makeup artist. [Laughs]
When you have a dream, you have to go for it. I mean, I never dreamed I’d be where I am today. I never dreamed to work with these incredibly talented people, and that’s what I love the most: sharing with a designer, with a photographer, with a model, with talented people. It’s such a delicious opportunity every day. I’ve been doing makeup for 29 years and I’ll never give up on it. I still love this job because every day I come home and look at myself in the mirror and I don’t feel ashamed of myself.
I don’t wear makeup myself—only sometimes if I have a big pimple. I don’t cover bags under my eyes or anything, I just take good care of my skin. The best way to clean your face is with Biologique Recherche Lait VIP 02 Cleansing Milk, which is basically a makeup remover. While I’m waiting for the shower to warm up, I rub it on my face and let it sit. In the shower, I use Biologique Recherche Lotion P50, and follow it with Biologique Recherche L'Eauxygenante Spray. Their products smell like science. I found them because when you travel first class on Air France, you get a free 30 minute treatment with Biologique Recherche. The food is excellent and the treatment is divine. Once a week, I exfoliate with Sisley Buff and Wash Facial Gel. I'd say I’m treating my skin for...everything and nothing. [Laughs] For getting rid of puffy eyes or laugh lines, Biologique Recherche Serum Yall O2 is amazing. After a few minutes, it softens the lines completely. Then, to moisturize, when my skin is very dry, I use Estée Lauder Re-Nutriv. I very rarely put oil on my own face because it makes your skin slippery, but I use it on models all of the time under their makeup because it's the only way to give the skin a nice transparency.
For treatments, the best place in the world for an amazing facial treatment and an incredible feast of scents is Terri Lawton in LA—she’s unbelievable. I wish could go to LA more often. [Laughs] Well, also, because the Chateau Marmont has the best Kiehl's bath products...Usually the soap or shampoo I’m using is a leftover of whatever I start using in the hotel. I like the body lotion at the Four Seasons in Milan, and it sounds snobbish, but the product that I fell in love with while traveling was this sage soap they have at the Amangiri Hotel on the border of Utah and Arizona. It’s the best hotel in the world, and I still keep that soap around.
When I’m not using that soap, I wash with Harem des Sens Voluptueux Exfoliating Balm, which I’ve only been able to find in France. I moisturize with a dry oil. The trick is to put it on after the shower, and give it 15 or 20 minutes to soak in before getting dressed. Then you won’t feel sticky or sweaty.
For my hair, I style it with Prejume Wax 7. Prejume makes different numbers, which correlate to the wax’s strength. I found this at the little Japanese salon on West 12th Street [in New York] where I used to go to get my hair cut. I like it because it’s not too thin.
And for fragrance, I like YSL Opium and Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan. I mix them. I’m still a smoker, but people keep on telling me that I smell good, which is bizarre. I’ve quit smoking a few times, and when I do and I smell other people smoking cigarettes, I think they stink, so I guess the perfume must be working. [Laughs]
Otherwise, I love to get manicures and pedicures from Jin Soon. She does the perfect nail that lasts forever, which is why everyone uses her—Chanel, Hermès. She does manicures like nobody else in the world."
—as told to ITG
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Tom's interview: The Professional.
Tom Pecheux photographed by Emily Weiss in Paris, France on September 30, 2013.