"I—unfortunately, for my liver—love to party. It’s funny because I grew up in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, in the middle of fucking nowhere in the suburbs. It’s very David Lynch suburbia, low-key creepy. I went to an arts boarding school there. While I was in school, I started doing test shoots and small shoots around Boston. When I graduated high school, the options were either to go to Parsons to study fashion, or to work as a model, and an agency in Paris wanted me so I was like, ‘OK, I’ll go to Paris.’
While I was living there, I was dating this really gorgeous boy whom I was going to be with for the rest of my life. [Laughs] If I didn’t get signed to a new agency, I was going to live with my boyfriend in London and lead a basic life. But, one agency wanted to meet me—it was Premium Models, in Paris. I came in and they signed me right away. They sent my Polaroids to a bunch of casting directors and within an hour I was booked for Louis Vuitton. But there was no contract. Basically, if at any point they didn’t want me, it would be over. I took [Vuitton] as a learning experience because I was so interested in fashion. I’d idolized Nicolas Ghesquière from the time I was 13. Everything ended up falling into place—it just took a long time. I want more success—I want some covers, I want some campaigns, but those things also come with time. Maybe I’ll never get them, but it’s chill. There are other things in the world that are more important than looking attractive with a lot of retouching in a publication.
I lived in Paris for two and a half years and it was depressing me. I wanted to come to New York City and live the fantasy in the center of the universe. When I moved here, that was the first time I was introduced to gay nightlife, ever. Even though I’m transgender, I was still in Paris and stealth—no one knew I was trans. I remember the first night I met my current roommate. We went to 11:11 for a Ladyfag party. I had no idea who the fuck Ladyfag was. But I go to this party and for the first time ever, I felt like I was in a space where it didn’t matter what I did or what kind of makeup I was in or what I wore, I was going to be embraced. Instead of having creepy club promoters hit on me like douchebags, it was drag queens and trans girls and fabulous gay men gagging for my looks. Now I had the venue—the safe space—to be creative, because I had a place to wear it.
My personal aesthetic is finding the balance between looking really effortless and also at the same time having a full, completed look. I want to be able to go out and get hit on, I want to be noticed, but still approachable and real. I want extraordinary makeup, but done in a way that’s conceptual. For example, I’ll do a crazy winged eyeliner look, and then I’ll do a very bare face to contrast it. I’m serving you slutty Russian grandmother—but I’m going to make it modern.
Because I party and I live a more reckless lifestyle, I have to be extra careful with my skin. The first step for me was quitting smoking. Now I’m on a vape. [Laughs] Back in the day, everything was shot on film and retouched for three weeks, and sent to a professional retoucher. Now everything’s in HD. I feel like I have to take extra care to be flawless. It’s to the point where I’ll spend $400 on a bottle of ReVive Intensite Crème Lustre Day. Fucking love ReVive. I honestly think it’s the only thing that’s ever worked [for my skin]. It’s like the strongest one you can buy and I’m pretty sure it’s for 80-year-old women. I use it when it’s just before a show, or for special occasions. It literally makes my face like fucking concrete. It’s so firming, so lifting. So honestly, one of my beauty must-haves is having a really expensive night cream.
To cleanse, the Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser is really good. I also think the Fresh Soy Cleanser is really good. Something really gentle and not abrasive that removes the makeup without irritating. Recently, I popped off and bought the Sisley Black Rose Precious Face Oil—this is incredible. I went to Saks and got it. What I’ll start with is a face oil like the Sisley one and then I have the matching cream. Something that works underneath makeup that won’t pill. I want a smooth makeup application. For toner, I use the Mario Badescu Rosewater Spray. The way I see toning, you want to rinse off the chemicals that are in the water or the extra cleanser left on your face. Rosewater is also good for that because it’s calming, plus it smells good. I let that soak in and then I’ll tissue it off.
I’m all about going to a dermatologist—make sure you’re getting your shit fixed. I fully support procedures too—people getting Botox or fillers or a facelift. These days everything is temporary, too. If it’s not looking good, it’ll just dissolve away, which is great. My skin will never be fucking firmer than it is today and I know that—until I become a cyborg...but that’s a long time from now. When I get my robot face and my robot body, I’m going to look amazing.
When I do a makeup look, especially if I am going out, I’m pulling references. I’m on Vogue Runway, I’m googling shows, I’m figuring out which looks I want to pull. But I still want to do something new—I want to push myself to be creative. I’ll take a piece of that eyeshadow and a piece of that eyeliner, and do my ‘take’ on a Prada look.
For an event like tonight, I’ll wear Diorskin Forever Foundation. I usually use a high-coverage concealer—my favorite is Clé de Peau, the stick one. For underneath my eyes, I use the Born This Way Too Faced concealer. That one is perfect because it’s brightening and hydrating and looks like skin. I don’t want makeup to look artificial, I want it to look like it’s always been there. Like you just go to bed in your smoky eye, that’s how perfect it is. To finish, I love the Dior Loose Setting Powder. It’s so finely milled and not talc-y, so it makes everything really nice. One trick I have is to put all my creamy products on, then my powder, and then I’ll put more creamy products on top so it doesn’t look one-dimensional. So, I’ll go back in a second time and reapply a little bit of concealer if I have to.
The next step is contour. Typically, I’ll do base and then eyes, which I know you’re supposed to do the other way around, but I don’t give a shit. Then I’ll go in with my contour, and the best one is Taupe Powder Blush by MAC. And I bring that backstage to every show, because not every show does contour, but best believe every fucking show I’m in the bathroom contouring. I’m sorry, but those photos live on Vogue Runway forever. I’m definitely using the Glossier Haloscope tonight. It’s good because it’s shiny and it’s a highlight, but it’s not sparkly or glittery. The only time I like glitter is when it’s intentional—I don’t like when someone’s face is super shimmery.
For my eyes, I’m going to use Pat McGrath’s Ultimate Taupe. It’s from one of the palettes, which are so expensive but so worth it—honestly the best eyeshadows I’ve used in my entire life and I can say that without a doubt. I’ll definitely use Ultimate Taupe and then a darker, kind of pearly bark shade underneath. Then I’ll blend a lot so it’s swoopy. I’ll do a little highlight in the inner corners and I’ll smudge a MAC dark brown liner on the outer corners, maybe on the waterline. Then I’ll curl my lashes. If I do mascara, it’ll be Dior.
I might use this MAC product called Dusk—it’s a brown, cream-colored base. I’ll put that on top of everything to make it all a little dewier and wetter. I’ll do a kind of rosy skin to go with that, because I want to look very Da Vinci-esque. Like a very moody, sensual, sophisticated painting. The only blush that I ever use is a cream one from Honest Beauty. It’s a pink-y, coral-y color that blends so nicely. It’s never patchy. I’ll apply the blush last, and I’ll put it on the outer apples of my cheek, my forehead, and down the center of my neck to tie it all together. And then I’ll highlight on my cupid’s bow, inner corners, and brow bone.
Blankety from MAC is a gorgeous lip. Or Lipstick Queen’s Frog Princess Lipstick is a really good color on me. I’ve been obsessed with the Fenty Beauty Lip Gloss too. It makes your lips look plump and glossy and the texture is absolute perfection. I’ll definitely be including that in the look tonight.
Right now, I’m going through a thin brow moment—this is probably the thinnest my brows have ever been. I’m over that Cara Delevigne shit. I want a fashion brow like Linda Evangelista or Kate Moss. Thinning out my brows has done wonders for my eyes—the bushy brow wasn’t working to frame my face well or feminize me. I’ll define my brows on the outer edge slightly, but not enough so that it’s darker than my hair color.
For hair, I’ll use the Oribe Hair Spray, and maybe a Beach Spray if I decide to add a little bit of texture and greasiness to it. For me, the makeup will inform the hair, and so will the dress. I like a very chill hairstyle—sometimes I’ll do the hairstyle where I’ll pull it all to one side and slick it back.
I remember the night before my first Louis Vuitton show, Nicolas coming up to me and saying, ‘We want to change your hair. We either want to go jet black or Karen Elson red. You can decide which one you want.’ I had mousy brown hair—clock the roots, girl. I was under the impression that the red hair would be a cute moment for the show and I would return to the brown hair, but it’s been two and half years since then and I’ve kept the hair. I feel like I was always ginger on the inside and I didn’t know—it suits me so well. Where’s my Prada campaign, though?
Here’s the real tea—my aesthetic is somewhere between a Bond Girl and a Final Fantasy character. I want to look mysterious. I want to look dangerous. I want to look intimidating. I’m not putting on looks to impress boys, I’m putting on these looks because of who I am. I want to look as expensive as I can, and that’s very off-trend right now. I’m going to make it trendy again. You’re only young and beautiful while you’re young and beautiful! Take a risk, dress up! Wear slutty clothes, wear crazy makeup, push yourself to do it. When you’re in your 50s, you don't want to look back and be like ‘Damn, I was so modest.’ What’s the point in being modest? I want to look expensive, over-the-top and flawless. To show that you actually give a shit is fun.
When I’m out, I bring the fanny pack and it literally has everything in there. It has the vape pen, it has the wallet, condoms—everything. Honestly, I’m out until 4AM. Or, I just get tired of the party, so I’ll leave early. I love to take two hours getting ready, go party swirl for an hour, and then leave. If I do that, there’s this place on Houston that’s always open really late—Remedy Diner. I’ll get food from there or order Seamless. If I’m not going home with a boy, I’m going home with a full stomach. [Laughs]"
—as told to ITG
Teddy Quinlivan photographed by Tom Newton in New York on November 16, 2017.