Makeup Artist To Watch: Thomas de Kluyver


New York Fashion Week, much like New York itself, is a place you can meet anyone. Truly—hang out on the street for a bit and suddenly you’re with Karlie Kloss, or Grace Coddington, or Fabien Baron. I’ve snuck in, waited outside, walked around NYFW since I moved to the city for this reason. Five years in and, still, every season there’s at least one specific person I’m tracking down. This year it was makeup artist Thomas de Kluyver. Not sure it would be fair to call him up-and-coming—he’s been around for at least a few years. But in such a congested industry, it seems like maybe he’s been hiding in plain sight. Regardless, his work is mesmerizing, and I was in love the moment I stumbled across it. It's dreamy, it’s wild, it’s colorful... The way he presents it himself is pretty damn nice too—his Instagram is full of close-up faces shot on his phone, sometimes with the harsh little flash, all kind of in a trance. Maybe it’s the new way to shoot beauty. I’m fixated! Anyway, I did manage to find him. And at the Sies Marjan show, no less; he was the hand behind that wild, colorful eye. We talked about the look, but then we delved into much more. He’s definitely someone to watch. Take notes!

“When I first started doing makeup I was putting it on myself with my fingers using different colors. That's how I started. It was my teenage fantasy. I basically was going to rave parties in the early 2000s in Australia, and I used to do makeup on myself with neon paints. I used to do makeup on my friends, too. Very haphazard—not makeup in the traditional sense. Just bits of paint, pencil. Then I met this dude who worked at the MAC counter, and I ended up getting a job there. I moved to London in 2007. At the time, people going to the clubs there wore a lot of makeup. I was working at the door of this one club, and I’d go wearing all this makeup and my high-heeled boots. People thought my makeup was cool. They were like, can you do that for a shoot? And I was like, oh yeah, sure... [Laughs] So I started getting booked for things. They were my first shoots ever in London. I guess it’s progressed from there. I've been working with Harley Weir [Editor’s note: Definitely one of our favorite, most interesting beauty photographers out there right now] for about two years. We did a shoot for French Vogue with Raquel Zimmerman, and I put all these white polka dots on her face. Sadly the picture never ended up being used in the magazine, but I guess she thought it was really unique, and now we work together all the time.

I wish my ideas just came out, but I actually have sketchbooks and I’ll plan them out. I'm constantly on the road, and I sit on planes and trains, and I just draw faces of makeup. I also keep notes in my phone. If I think of something, I'll write it down and then draw it in my sketchbook. That way I have these sketchbooks full of looks, that are ready whenever I need them. And it changes too. It grows and shifts. When I’m working with designers, I meet and speak with them before the show, so I can really do something special and unique with the makeup. I think my style is really playful. It connects with people's emotions, rather than being makeup in the traditional sense. I love when people say, ‘Oh, your makeup made me feel so happy.” I love colors in unique, playful kind of way. For some reason people like it. [Laughs]”

—as told to Tom Newton

Photos via Thomas' Instagram.