'I learned to DJ at Le Montana in Paris from my then-boyfriend—I went with him every night. I wasn’t the actual DJ, so I didn’t pay much attention to what I wore, but when I came back to New York I decided that I needed to take it seriously and create a look for myself. My first gig was a test-run at Boom Boom Room and I pulled together a really polished look, and just kept dressing that way when I started my Friday night residency there. My day-to-day vibe is very, very basic—I usually wear jeans and a tee and a little eye makeup. But working at night is sort of a unique opportunity to really be able to dress up to 'go to work.'
DJing is definitely a job first and foremost, but I have fun doing it. Sometimes when I DJ, I'll go out afterwards so I've just got one big night—but really, I like smaller places where I can chill and have fun, hang out with people, and dance if I want to. I like Paul's Baby Grand at Tribeca Grand because it's got a cool ambience and reminds me a bit of Paris—it almost takes you out of New York. And there’s this place across the street from it called Tribeca Tavern that is like somewhere from back home in Wisconsin. They have great onion rings, a pool table and a jukebox, so sometimes I’ll go there with my friends and we’ll pick a bunch of songs and play pool.
I’ve been DJing for about three years now, and I’m just starting to get a routine down for getting ready! Before I even begin, I literally always get a slice or two of pizza. My favorite place was La Margarita II, right by my old apartment, but since I moved, I found out that Pizza Mercato delivers slices…amazing! Beyond pizza being the best food ever created, I honestly do it to keep me full all night and it acts as a nice buffer to make sure that I don’t get too tipsy while I’m working. Then, I’ll put on some music—I usually like to listen to stuff that I can chill to, rather than specific music that I’ll DJ later. The Bee Gees are a favorite for sure.
I used to choose my clothes before I did my face, but that would always leave me scrambling with something like 10 minutes left to do both hair and makeup. Now, I start with my makeup—I’ll always be able to settle on something to wear, but it’s a little tougher when I have next to no time for beauty.
I always apply Ling Dual Moisture Emulsion underneath everything and then Fresh’s Black Tea Age Delay Eye Concentrate under my eyes. Then, I’ll use Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30 in Finland, which I use in the day, too—but for night, I’ll build coverage by applying Nars Sheer Glow Foundation in Ceylan and then their Translucent Crystal Light Reflective Setting Powder over the top. It helps avoid shine in photographs. Then, I use Kat Von D Everlasting Blush—it’s a dark pink, coral-y shade instead of a loud color. I also like Benefit Benetint—I'll use it as blush if I feel like doing something a little more intense.
It took me a while to realize how to do my makeup if I was going to be photographed—I would see other girls in photos, and their makeup looked so on point but mine looked like it wasn’t there! So, I started realizing that I'd have to do my eyes way, way darker, much more intense than I was used to. I use shades of browns and tans and blacks.
I have a Bobbi Brown Warm Eye Palette with six colors ranging from super light to a dark, dark chocolate. I use a base color all over my lid and then I like to touch on both of the darkest shades and just smudge it in. I used to use the Urban Decay Naked Palette, but it's a little shimmery for my liking and the Bobbi Brown is more matte. I'll vary the shades of intensity with my shadow, but I'll always have the winged liner. Then, I do the inner rim of my lower lid—my eyes are actually really big and so, if I do my waterline, it kind of helps them not look so full-on. I use Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay In Place Gel Eyeliner in Stay Onyx for the top and then I use this this German brand called Gorgeous in my waterline—their Carbon Black Ink Liquid Eye Pencil is super pigmented and thick and it stays on and it's great. After I’ve applied the liner, I get a bit of eye shadow with a little eye shadow brush and apply it just a bit below my lashline to get the smoky feel.
Unfortunately, I have really short eyelashes so they always require quite a bit of mascara. I like Lancôme’s Hypnôse Drama Mascara in Excessive Black when I’m trying to really fill make them stand out—I don’t really like fake lashes—or Chanel Le Volume de Chanel in Black when I want a more smooth, natural look.
I normally don’t wear lipstick, because it’s kind of a lot to deal with, but it depends on my outfit—if I’m wearing white and black then I think a red lip looks really cool and kind of classes it up. For an event, throwing on a red lip is such an easy way to pull together an entire look—either I do a bold shade, like MAC Lipstick in Ruby Woo or Lady Danger, or nothing at all. I also really like YSL’s Rouge Volupte—it’s more of a stain, but it’s a rich, hyper-saturated red.
I really like to wear Marni Rose. But I also love wearing Santal 33 while I'm DJing because it's so strong that if someone comes even near you they can smell it. It's a funny conversation starter—if people know it, they'll recognize it right away.
I only really wash my hair once a week and it doesn’t get greasy—if it does, I have this great dry shampoo called Death Valley by R+Co. I don’t use a ton of product in my hair—when I’m DJing, I either wear it down or I like to kind of slick back one side with Redken Fashion Work 12 Hairspray to keep it out of my face. I also really like to use Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray—sometimes, I flatiron my hair but I still like to keep a bit wavy.
I’m not really sure how everyone has time to keep their nails perfectly manicured, although maybe my nails get a little more wear and tear since I’m physically using them both for photoshoots and for DJing. It’s something I have to think about ahead of time, since I need either salon time or drying time. I’ve started doing my own nails because I found this awesome Caption Base Coat and Topcoat on a shoot that actually makes you look like you’ve had a salon manicure. And I either wear this really dark purple, almost black Jin Soon Nail Lacquer in Risque or Essie in Geranium. My hands are literally front and center while I’m DJing, so it’s important to make sure my nails look good—that’s also why I love wearing rings.
AT THE END OF THE NIGHT
I keep makeup wipes next to my bed because I hate washing my face. Whenever I go to Europe, I buy a bunch—I really like just the basic ones from Monoprix in Paris. Then, I always drink a big glass of water before bed just to make sure my skin is refreshed and so I wake up feeling well. The next morning, I like using Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Energizing Face Wash for Men because it says it’s energizing. I'm not sure if that's true or not. But it feels cool.
If I’ve had a fairly late night working, sometimes I put on dark sunglasses before I fall asleep so that the light doesn’t wake me up in the morning. A few years ago, I started wearing sunglasses during naps because my apartment was outrageously bright. I thought it was funny, and sleep masks are too weird for me. Right now, my south-facing window doesn't have a blind, so sometimes sunglasses are very necessary if I need a good night’s sleep. I forget that it looks really out of place—my old roommate has a little collection of photos of me sleeping with sunglasses on and napping in odd locations.”
—as told to ITG
Leslie Kirchhoff photographed by Tom Newton.