Ah, the magic of a J.Crew catalog. Say what you will about the poses (that the models look caught-off-guard at best, and a little drunk at worst), but the beauty is dead-on. This, you may or may not have known, is thanks to Jenna Lyons' approved makeup man, Troi Ollivierre. And it has been for the past 10 years.
“I started when the brand was all no makeup and khaki pants,” he recalls. “And I’ve seen them through to the present which is a more polished, fashion-y look.” Their signature beauty look is a clean, dewy face with a swipe of bright lipstick. On set, Ollivierre mixes and matches a million lip colors to create those pretty hues. Of course, for those of us less artistically inclined, the picture-perfect shades have been nearly impossible to recreate.
So by popular demand (and because he couldn’t ever find the perfect single product to use), Ollivierre has launched his own line of makeup, starting with six bold lipsticks. Four of the colors are available on jcrew.com. “I love lip color because it's the pop that makes your face stand out,” says Ollivierre. “It can really complete a look.”
And in the fashion of another lipstick king (ahem, Tom Ford), Ollivierre named his shades after boys. His reasoning: Too many of his female friends not-so-subtly offered their own monikers for the hues, and he didn’t want to hurt any feelings. The collection covers all the essential colors like easy pink (Atticus) and tomato-red (_ George_) plus a few unexpected tones like a striking fuchsia-purple (Bob).
The lipsticks are matte but not drying like more traditional formulae. “Many women don’t wear matte colors because they feel they’re too heavy,” explains Ollivierre. “I wanted to create something beautiful and ultra-pigmented that didn’t feel uncomfortable. It took a lot of tries in the lab before we got it just right.”
When I confessed my own trepidation about ultra-bright lip colors (in my experience, I look less fresh-faced J.Crew model and more clown-school dropout, when I apply bright hues), Ollivierre gave me a quick lesson in proper lipstick application. “Most colors can work for almost anyone,” he says. “It’s all about the way you apply it.” For starters, you don’t need to use the tube to draw the perfect pout. Think of it less like coloring in the lines and more like finger-painting. Dab a bit of color into the center of your lip, and then use your fingers to spread it around. This gives you a far more natural look and allows you more control over just how much pigment actually ends up on your lip. If a hands-on method isn’t exactly your style, you can use a brush to more or less the same effect. “If you’re not sure about the color, start by smudging on a tiny bit for a light look,” he advises. “You can always add more.”
For a more advanced approach, mix-and-match your hues. Atticus, the light pink, is a universal shade that can tone down some of the others and make them more neutral. Parker, on the other hand, is a deeper, berry color that can be paired with some of the brighter pinks to make them even bolder. You can’t really go wrong. As a bonus, I learned that the lipsticks are actually easy to wipe off and don’t leave any awkward stain or residue (a godsend for girls like me who tend to suffer from makeup remorse soon after an over-confidently application).
Up next, Ollivierre will be releasing a collection of lip stains (check out the J.Crew Fall 2015 presentation for a sneak preview of one of the tints). Eventually, he plans to expand into other essentials like mascara, foundations, and lip balms—but not too fast. “I have to make sure I test all the products and really live with them before they make it into my line,” says Ollivierre. In the meantime, these lipstick will hold you just fine.
Photographed by Tom Newton.