'I grew up in Western Australia on a farm…I'm a country girl! Then, when I was 11, we moved to a seaside town in New South Wales and I still live there. I'm a cliché Australian—we have, like, 18 chickens and an herb garden and it's very relaxed. I’m pretty laid back.
I think everyone’s bullied a little bit when they’re going through high school…and the one that I went to wasn't very multicultural, there were probably about four other Asians there and one of them was my sister. I think that’s what made me turn to vintage. I thought, well, if I am different, then I want to be as different as I can be. I just loved going vintage shopping and finding pieces that I knew no one else would have, I loved that it was kind of expressing how I felt as an individual, but then I accumulated so much that I couldn't physically fit any more in my wardrobe, so, that's how Gary Pepper started! I launched it in 2009, just as a hobby to sell clothes, but after about two months online, I decided to quit my job and focus on it full-time. Then, six months later, it was registered as a company and I was pushing out, like, 250 items a week! It was that fast.
I had my blog on the side of the store because I just wanted to connect with my customers, show them that the girl selling them vintage clothing was like them. I put a lot of thought into my branding, about who the Gary Pepper Girl was. She was youthful and quirky and unique and confident, kind of based around Harajuku Girls in Japan—I’m half Japanese and I drew a lot of inspiration from a trip I took there before I started the company. I just wanted to create something positive and optimistic and colorful. I don’t believe in breeding negativity and the internet can just be a vortex of that stuff.
The first expensive beauty product that I ever got was Lancôme’s Juicy Tubes. In high school, everyone was obsessed with it but, because they were like $40 for a pack of three, we would only wear them on our nights out. To impress the boys with our Juicy Tubes! I kind of wish that I was in high school in this generation, because they’re exposed to so much great knowledge and cool products and inspirations…when I was in senior year, I was still ironing my hair on an ironing board. We didn’t know what straighteners were! Some of my friends still have scars on their foreheads from doing that...
It was strange growing up because I couldn’t apply the makeup the ways that I saw in magazines—it just wasn’t the same on Asian features. It took me so long to find a hairdresser who knew how to cut Asian hair. Still, a lot of makeup artists don’t know how to do it, so I usually just ask them to do a base and then I do my own eyeliner and brows and stuff. Caucasian eyeliner is often very delicate but I think that, with almond eyes, you need to be more exaggerated because we have such a thick fold in our eyelid. Luckily, my best friend growing up was always very experimental with makeup so she taught me how to do a smoky eye. When I was younger, I always did really heavy stuff with more on the bottom than on the top, wearing fake lashes and all of that. Now, my technique is a lot more streamlined, whether it’s for the daytime or going out. The only difference at night is that I might put on a red lip—I love Tom Ford or Nars’ Velvet Matt Lip Pencil.
I used to pride myself on how low maintenance I was before I realized that there's nothing wrong with taking pride in your skin and taking care of it. As I'm getting older, I’ve realized it's all about preservation. I fly so much that it affects my skin, gets it so dehydrated, so I’ve started to really invest in looking after it. I’ve always used Avène, their mist, cleanser and toner because it’s so light. Also, my skin really reacts if I haven’t drunk enough water, don’t get enough sleep, or if I’m not eating well—I don’t even drink alcohol anymore because of it. Maybe I'll have a few glasses of red wine, but that’s it. I also use the SK-II masks, they’re really good if you’re flying a lot.
I wear at least 50+ SPF. I was adopted, so I didn’t realize until I was an adult that, in Japan and Korea, everything’s all about preserving your skin. I could never understand why everyone looked at me funny when I went to Japan, but it was because I was insanely dark compared to everyone else! Then I googled the Korean skincare regime and found the 12-step process and was like, woah! I actually bought a Clarisonic recently but then my dermatologist said not to use it because Asian skin is really delicate and it might damage it…but I still do, just to exfoliate once a week, because your skin can feel so dull after flying.
These days, it probably only takes me about seven minutes to get ready. I only wear full foundation when I’m on a photoshoot, so for my daily routine I just use Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation as a concealer on spots or red areas. Then, when I was in London for Fashion Week, I picked up this Burberry Effortless Brow Definer that I use for my eyebrows…I used to find the thought of a pencil quite daunting but I really like this formula, it’s like a gel and it’s really subtle so it’s not quite like drawing your eyebrows on. And I love the Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer as an illuminator for my cheekbones and browbone.
My hair is still really low maintenance—I just use, like, the green bottles of Garnier and Herbal Essences because my hair seems to respond well to supermarket brands. So I just switch between the two. I’ve tried stuff like Redken but it just makes my hair go flat so now I just keep it simple. I’ve never dyed my hair, so it’s pretty healthy…if anything, I wish it would stop growing so fast, so I wouldn’t have to get it cut as often!”
—as told to ITG
Nicole Warne photographed by Tom Newton. Read more of The Face here.