You have been with the brand for nearly 20 years – which is a lifetime in this industry! What keeps you so loyal to Shu Uemura?
Some people are very surprised I have stayed at one place for so long, but to me, Shu Uemura is very interesting and very unique and thanks to the brand, I always have interesting experiences waiting for me. For instance, two years ago, we had an artists collaboration with Karl Lagerfeld, and last year, we had a collaboration with Takashi Murakami, an international and highly regarded artist. Thanks to opportunities such as this, I will never be bored at Shu Uemura! For the future, I have to prepare interesting things for the next generations of Shu Uemura artists. That is my mission and duty.
You know, before I joined the brand, I didn’t have an idea about what it really entailed. Honestly, I was not sure about what the makeup artists job was, because to me then, it didn’t look creative. But after I completed my internship, and Mr Uemura shared his experiences, I changed my mind and became an artist.
This is a business, but at the same time, contributing to a society. So really I could not find a job like this anywhere except in the cosmetic business.
It has been said that you were moved by the possibilities of make-up – can you please expand on this?
I strongly believe make-up enhances the individuality of people. My belief in beauty is: “Truth, Goodness and Beauty” (Shin, Zen, Bi in Japanese). The ‘truth’ means that make-up enhances individuality and should be true to a person. ‘Goodness’ means I don’t want to insist my approach to clients and we always discuss an approach together, that is goodness. And ‘beauty’ means that after the make-up is finished, the end result should be stunning to them. A successful make-up look always has the force to leave impressions, strong impressions. For example, when I’m meeting with a beautiful woman, after she leaves, I want to meet her again. If you have beautiful make-up, everyone wants to meet you again. That is the influence that affects everyone’s minds.
You have collaborated with the King of fashion, Karl Lagerfeld – can you tell us a bit more about that?
Yes, we collaborated with Karl Lagerfeld for a Christmas collection that is launching at the end of this year. It’s inspired by Karl Largerfeld’s pet cat, Choupette.
Well, that’s one we can’t wait for! You have also worked with top Asian brands including Tsumori Chisato and Rue Du Mail, what is it about the world of fashion that inspires you?
Personally, I love fashion and I get so much inspiration from fashion design. For example, the artist edition lashes, ‘Vision of Beauty’, are inspired by fashion design. Overall, the look for all the eyelashes is that of a female warrior ready to take on the world. I also wanted to express the force behind someone like a rock, punk or underground artist heading towards something bigger and greater.
The first one called ‘Metal Claw’ in the artist’s edition is the epitome of edginess. I searched the points where rock music and art meet to find what can be beautifully expressed as artwork.
With the second one called ‘Ragged Web’, I wanted something less sophisticated with more of a patchwork feel to it. It’s actually quite difficult to make something original in the spirit of patched up punk. So, with this one, I hope you get a feel of originality within what is not refined.
The third pair of lashes called ‘Curly Zebra’ have a tribal feel to them. They hold the meaning of releasing the inner wild instincts that humans are born with.
I think that fashion and beauty have strong connection. We cannot think about fashion without beauty, or beauty without fashion. That’s why for the ‘Vision of Beauty’ collection, what I want to describe is modern beauty. Modern beauty means not only cosmetics, not only make-up; it’s fashion, art, design, everything. Modern beauty is living together with culture.
You are in town to judge the Shu Uemura make-up competition – what are you looking for when you judge something like this?
The combination of the harmony of colours and the balance of the overall creation is very important. And how it is relevant to the theme, Brave Beauty. For Shu Uemura, we believe in simplicity, for things to be simple but rich. There cannot be too many things happening at the same time, so the focus has to be on one part of the face. It should be clean, sophisticated and beautiful.
Shu Uemura is all about innovation – what are the latest discoveries in the world of make-up?
In September, we are going to launch another family of lightbulb foundation, a cream foundation, the lightbulb oleo pact foundation.
People look for cream foundations because they essentially want a moisturising effect on the skin, but with coverage. Usually when you wear a cream foundation that is moisturising however, it becomes very cakey after a while. It also oxidises very easily and makes skin look dull or greyish looking. And most of time when you wear cream foundations, it gives a very heavy coverage and it burdens the skin.
Oleo pact is formulated with special kinds of oils, which are able to give you the coverage, but it also gives you a glow without making the foundation look heavy on the skin. It contains zero water content to minimise oxidation and the foundation colour on the skin will not change. It also has special ingredient called the jellified complex which enhances the effect of antioxidation.
Can you just tell us a bit more about Shu Uemura’s latest collection?
Brave Beauty is the first title of the Vision of Beauty collection. Vision of Beauty is a seasonal collection after the Shu Uemura Mode Make-up Collection. Shu Uemura Mode Make-up Collection was started and created by Mr Uemura. After he passed away, I took over his job.
Last year, fortunately, we had the 30th anniversary of the Shu Uemura make-up brand. Thinking of the next 30 years – we need an evolution everywhere, including the collection part. I’ve had a long time to think about it, and I’m determined to start a new collection from this year. That’s the Vision of Beauty.
A new collection means creating everything new, but at the same time, not everything new. I am still creating what I learned from Mr Uemura. So that’s why this range is an evolution of the Mode Make-up Collection. And the first title is Brave Beauty.
I chose the name of the first collection to be a strong statement. What we have insisted for a long time is ‘be brave to discover to become beautiful’. Vision of Beauty has two parts. One part is the product part, which is called the Beauty Collection. Always trendy, always practical for consumers. The other is the Artist Edition. The Artist Edition has a different approach that suits the theme.
Moving on, what are the three main makeup tools every woman should have?
1. Eye shadow brush – A lot of ladies commit the mistake of using their fingers to apply eye shadow. When you use your fingers, firstly, the uneven-ness of the pigments will show on the skin. And over time, the colour on the eye shadow palette will not be able to be picked up anymore, because the oil and dirt on the fingers actually gives a film on top so you cannot pick up the pigments anymore. An eye shadow brush will also help with blending.
2. A Shu Uemura curler – It’s more precise because its side-bar free allows you to manoeuvre the curler at any part of the eye to maximise the curling effect, and it’s great for hard to reach places.
3. Foundation Brush – It makes putting on foundation quicker and easier, and it gives a smoother effect as well.
In hot and humid temperatures like Singapore, what are the most common make-up mistakes you think women make and how can we avoid them?
If you want your make-up to stay put for a long time, I think you should choose a simple approach. People think that to get this, you need to pile on layer upon layer of foundation, but that’s the wrong idea. Thinner applications last longer than thicker ones. So that’s important. Especially in Singapore.
Shu Uemura is known for a bold, directional look. How can we translate this to the everyday in a climate like Singapore?
Play with colours. With the Vision of Beauty collection, we are going for colourful products, especially eyeshadow. So having vivid shades in the palette, we propose using it as an accent. For people with Asian skin, I would like them to use these bright shades first. Of course, you know, for fair skin, it is ok. But I truly hope that these kinds of shades are very good for darker tone skin.
What are the main trends for next season and how can we make them translate to Singapore?
There are two key trends. The first one is glow on the skin, but not with heavy coverage. My recommendation is the lightbulb series, which provides a sophisticated, defined glow on the skin. The other key point is focusing on the eyes. These past few years, in the fashion industry, there’s more exposure of fake eyelashes than before, and from next season, it will probably increase.
Besides using lashes, also using vivid shades for eye shadows, but not multi-colours, just one vivid shade. For example, for our Brave Beauty eye shadow palettes, you can use the neutral shades all over your eyes to create dimension. But use the vivid pink, orange or green at the corner of the eye. Just a bit; not too much. It’s not difficult, it’s a look that’s meant to be very simple.