Damien Dufresne, multi-talented make-up artist: «the trend, there is none !»

We met Damien Dufresne, multi-talented make up artist, at the L’Oréal “Haute Coiffure Française” which took place at the Carrousel de Louvre where he has officiated as head makeup artist for over 15 years. He talk to us about his work, his passion for photography and his upcoming book .

MakeUp in …™: Despite the excitement that prevails in L’Oréal “Haute Coiffure Française” backstage, you seem very relaxed.

Damien Dufresne: I am relaxed because there was a lot of good upstream work , I am supported by a great team and we work for talented hairdressers who trust us.
Being the head makeup artist for a fashion show is like being a head waiter in a restaurant: He coordinates and ensures the smooth running of events. It requires creativity, induced by adrenalin.

MakeUp in …™: Do you feel more comfortable in the atmosphere of a fashion show or in a photo studio ?

Damien Dufresne: They both suit me, it’s the same job.
I have been a makeup artist for 30 years ; the first 20 years of which were spent in studios, followed by 10 years where I have partly worked in studios, partly as an art director, creating trend books, developing colors in labs etc.
And for the past three years I have also added photography to that.

MakeUp in …™: Do you have more room for improvisation in a fashion show rather than in a photo shoot where everyhting is set to the milimeter ?

Damien Dufresne: Considering “Haute Coiffure Française”, for which I have worked for 15 years, we, l’Oréal hairdressers and I, created a relationship of trust. It is a big challenge primarily because the Carrousel du Louvre is a magnificent room and because we do work with more than 50 models.
I’m obviously listening to the needs of the choregrapher and the hairdressers, I take part in briefings and rehearsals, but they also give me a degree of freedom to act as I see fit.

MakeUp in …™: Working backstage at a fashion show means a lot of organization and above all teamwork. In your opinion what are the qualities of a good head makeup artist ?

Damien Dufresne: The first quality is to be organized. The second is to bring people together. I like to think I am a good team leader, but it cannot really be credited to me today as I’m fortunate in being able to choose makeup artists whose work I respect . It is also essential for me to pick people who will complement each other with a strong team spirit and the willingness to help each other out.
At this stage of my career, it is very nice to share my passion with younger makeup artists, from different backgrounds, to help them gain confidence, and perhaps to recognise a part of me in each of them when I was their age.

MakeUp in …™: Who has most influenced you in your career? Who are your points of reference?

Damien Dufresne: The first one is obviously Serge Lutens, he has been like a master. Tyen, also, a full-fledged artist.
Later, Topolino for his audacity, his contempt of rules, in a word: his freedom. Pat Mc Graph for whom John Galliano authorized all his excess. Thanks to all of them, colors took over in fashion show and magazines.

MakeUp in …™: Which current trends do you think will last in the long term?

Damien Dufresne: The trend is there is no trend ! If we compare it with fashion for instance, 20 years ago still, you had to wear skirts to a certain length, a certain color and the following year, it was quite the opposite. Today thought these trends no longer exist. It is similar in makeup. We can do anything, wear anything as long as it’s for the right person at the right moment.
What changes though is technology. In the long run, I have said loud and clear, obviously the “makeup care” or “care that does makeup” will lead the industry, if it is not yet the case.

MakeUp in …™: Makeup has not suffered from the financial crisis and sales continue to grow. What explains such a passion for makeup today?

Damien Dufresne: We use more makeup today, it is now a habit. Marketing created the needs. My mother used one color of lipstick, whereas now women have several, one for winter, one for summer, a gloss etc.. While it is true that purchasing power has declined, women use more makeup than before. Blush, mascara, lip gloss are still very affordable. A woman is not going to stop putting mascara because there is a crisis!
If you compare the price of a L’Oreal foundation that will last three months to the price of a metro ticket, it is negligeable …

MakeUp in …™: You already created a range of brushes. Is the creation of a ‘Damien Dufresne’ makeup range a challenge that tempts you?

Damien Dufresne: I think I now have enough experience to develop a range of makeup.
I still have to find partners, bold investors and a distribution network.
A makeup range relies on the work of a whole group.
But that said, yes this adventure tempts me !
I believe above all in the difference, identity and integrity of a makeup range.
It would be a narrow range, based on my personal knowledge of textures and my experience and my knowledge of women’s everyday needs.
I dream of a brand with no advertising where all the money would be invested in research and quality textures and ingredients.
The “excellence of product” is in itself a guarantee of success, focusing upon creativity, high quality textures and packaging and a respect for the clientele.
Advertising and the use of celebrities have had their day, now the internet and blogs have taken over. The successful products of tomorrow are quality products made by professionals, respecting clients and the environment.
Today it is easier for women to talk and share their opinion.
Unlike some journalists whose job it is to write articles or magazines that have to highlight certain products because they depend on advertisers , the bloggers are passionate ! They try new products and give their opinions.

MakeUp in …™: You can be considered as a complete artist. Is there an aspect of makeup you have not yet explored?

Damien Dufresne: I did not imagine when starting my career that the world of makeup offered so many opportunities : working in studios , the cinema, working with stars, shows, art directing, designing trends books, color development in partnership with laboratories … I thought I had explored all the opportunities but I was wrong. I did not know art directing would also lead me to image and picture.

MakeUp in …™: Can you tell us about your consultant business you have developed in parallel with your makeup artist business?

Damien Dufresne: At first I was a consultant for various brands before I considered opening my own office
The idea of creating a consultant studio exclusively devoted to makeup came naturally, like photography.
Nowadays, brands pay generic trends companies to be told colors for upcoming years.
The real question is: how to adapt color trends of the next year to the makeup industry.
Our difference, which makes it our strength, is that we are makeup artists. And being a makeup artist is a real job.
Our team is composed of a team of experts ; makeup artists from different cultures and generations.
So we have the ability to help laboratories and brands at all stages from creation to completion. We can make trend books, collaborate in color development and textures setup. We can also help brands to pick up the right textures from the best suppliers by providing our expertise, advice and achieve visual communication…

MakeUp in …™: Can you briefly describe the concept of your next book?

Damien Dufresne: This is primarily a photo book as oppossed to a book of makeup.
It is the mixture of photography and makeup I do today which summarises my 30 years of experience

MakeUp in …™: This book fits into the continuity of your book “Wake Up” published in 2003?

Damien Dufresne: Yes and no.
Yes, because “Wake Up” was my first area of freedom as a makeup artist in a sense that for the first time I chose models, makeup and photos.
No, in the sense that now I create the photos myself. As I said before, this is not about makeup. Makeup is a part of it, like lights, models and everything else. But it is not what is emphasised. They are photographs, not pictures of makeup.
This book is my recreation, it is a gift I give to myself.
The continuity comes mainly due to the fact that I work with people I love, respect and that I keep in mind that this is a team game.