“I moved to New York a year ago and I’m having a ton of fun. There’s just so much happening here. Working with Dior in Paris was amazing. But now I get to work on all of these crazy, creative, weird beauty stories, which I love. Makeup is changing so much. When I started doing it 14 years ago, there were a lot of male makeup artists, and it was really academic and very glamorous, which was pretty amazing. But I feel like now we’re going in this direction that’s much more realistic. It’s like, don’t hide your skin—don’t hide who you are. Because the faults are nice. That’s something that works for me, because in France, we love not being perfect.
Back home, the girls do their makeup in a similar way. Like when they go out, all of them they have crazy hair, no foundation, and this intense red lipstick...sometimes the lipstick is a bit imperfect. It reminds me of this movie that I’m obsessed with called L’Amant. It’s the story of this French girl in Vietnam and how she falls in love with a Chinese lover, and she has these braids and wears a Panama hat and bold lipstick. And she looks amazing. I like that… it’s kind of touched by reality.
There is nothing more seductive than red matte lipstick. And when I go out, my makeup is all about seduction. It’s not about trying to seduce people, but it’s about being playful. I used to wear Ruby Woo, but now I wear this Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Always Red. It’s so intense. Sometimes I also add some Nars Blush in Exhibit A to it so it makes it super velvety. People will focus on the lips, but at the same time, you can’t be kissed, because you’ll mess it up. It’s very distracting.
If I wear red lipstick, I’ll just add a little mascara, and I like Diorshow Iconic Overcurl. It’s very black, and the texture is really smooth. I put it all on my roots and it makes them look really intense. For my eyebrows I’ll use a MAC Brow Liner. I usually just brush them, but with the pencil, you can really shape them or just blend a little bit. And I use the Glossier Boy Brow in Brown because it brings more depth and thickness to my eyebrows.
But if I don’t wear red lipstick, I’ll wear some lip balm and Givenchy Lip Liner in Lip Brown and I’ll do a very intense smoky eye. If it looks real and not too perfect, it looks a little mysterious. I’ll use a MAC Ebony Eye Pencil and I’ll really smudge it into my lashline. For eyeshadow, I’m really into burgundies. I just found this old Dior 5 Couleurs Palette in Blazing Gold [ed note: discontinued, but Trafalgar is a pretty spot-on dupe]. I also love Kiko Milano Intense Eyeliner in Bronze, or the Nyx Jumbo Eye Pencils in Rust and Sparkle Nude. They’re cheap, but good quality! I’m a snob about skincare, but makeup is fun. And I do my makeup French-style—no mirror, in the car, in the restaurant. All my girlfriends do it the same way.
For my complexion, I always do something Neoclassical—that kind of very pearly face, with red cheeks full of emotion…very Italian Renaissance. I use Dior Glow Maximizer Primer all over which gives a very thin, but pearlescent reflection. And I always use concealer. I’ve tried them all! I use a Nars one right now, but I like the Glossier Stretch Concealer, which I just got. I use concealer as a way to plump the face, so I just pat it on the cheeks, because it’s going to catch the light and make my skin look really smooth. Like a mirror reflection. For a blush, I use Bobbi Brown pink blush in Nectar. This is the only blush I’ve tried that I like, because it’s hard to find a good shade for my olive skin. But it’s a powder, so sometimes I use RMS Living Luminizer to bring the glow back.
My perfume is called El Nabil, it’s pure white musk from Morocco. I order it from Morocco, it’s so cheap, and I keep it everywhere—on my bedside table, in my bag, I carry it everywhere. I also wear Lipstick Rose by Frederic Malle, but at night I’ll always perfume myself with the musk. I learned it from the women in my family… Even if you’re at home and tired, you should always stay alluring.
Oh, my hair! I only use this Shu Uemura Volume Shampoo. Since I’ve started using Shu Uemura, my hair looks healthier, much lighter, so much better than before. And I use this Leonor Greyl Deep Conditioning Cream on the tips. I'll brush it while I blowdry, and then I put it up on a bun while I do my makeup. That's going to give it some shape, and make it look a little messy [when I put it back down] because I don't like when it looks too done. I'll set it with Elnett to keep that messy shape.
I’m pretty psychotic about my nails. I only go to one place in New York called Hortus, and I go to Patricia. You’ll never see me with damaged polish—that’s a rule I have. For going out I’ll switch between Zoya’s Charli, Essie’s Size Matters, or Essie’s Devil’s Advocate. But I don’t really change my outfit—because I’m usually in a rush, so I’ll just throw on a leather jacket and heels. I will add my heels, no matter what. I don’t go out without heels. I love Gianvito Rossi’s shoes. And leather, always. I have this Barbara Bui leather jacket with fringe that I love. I have to wear it. Or I wear Saint Laurent, Kiki de Montparnasse, Levi’s jeans—so French!”
—as told to ITG
Violette photographed by Tom Newton at her home in Brooklyn on March 16, 2016.