Free spirit

Born and raised in New Zealand, Aaron De Mey now lives in New York and works in Paris. He has come a long way since his days as a fine arts student at Whitecliff College of Arts and Design in Auckland. Succeeding Gucci Westman, 
De Mey was appointed Lancôme’s make-up artistic director in 2008 and has recently unveiled his debut colour collection. Named Pink Irreverence, the title is fitting for the free-spirited De Mey, who is hooked on pop culture and rock-and-roll. The collection is an eclectic fusion of fuchsia pink and sparkling black in homage to Lancôme’s emblematic rose and the black volcanic sands of De Mey’s homeland beaches, such as Piha. “I love opposites and extremes and the clash of colours and textures,” he says.

The use of black in the collection also acknowledges De Mey’s love of London’s punk culture in the ’70s and the smoky eyes of screen diva Marlene Dietrich, 
who created her own black eye shadow 
by burning cork and mixing the ashes 
with petroleum jelly. The hero product in the collection is the translucent Color Fever Lip Gloss in Piha Black (see page 91). 
Most women would shy away from putting black on their lips, but the gloss is translucent enough to be worn on its own or on top of your favourite lipstick colour to deepen the tone. It can also be patted onto your eyelids for a sexy, smouldering, sparkly black shine. Somehow, it works.

The face of Pink Irreverence, Elettra Rossellini Wiedemann “is the perfect embodiment of this collection,” De Mey says, “not just for her youth and beauty but also for the way she represents timeless sophistication, making her the perfect muse. She is as resplendent with a natural look as she is with more sophisticated 
make-up, which only enhances her allure.”

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Aaron De Mey’s favourite things

Favourite place?

My favourite place is New York City. I live here, it’s my home and it’s so extremely different from where I come from.

Favourite books?

Anything by E.M. Forster. New Zealand writer Janet Frame. I love all biographies, especially the one on Cecil Beaton by Hugo Vickers. Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Rock by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain is amazing. Also, I love Slyvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. I love the woman’s perspective and the slight torturedness of it. Sylvia was a very good writer.

Favourite films?

Romeo and Juliet by Franco Zeffirelli is my ultimate favourite. Anything by Gus Van Sant, especially Elephant and My Own Private Idaho. Also Fanny and Alexander, Blade Runner, Belle de Jour, Welcome to the Dollhouse, Edward Scissorhands, The Outsiders and Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo?.

Favourite actresses?

Vanessa Redgrave because there is an intelligence behind what she does. There’s this depth to her and she’s a super, super beauty. She seems like someone you’d love to know. I imagine you can sit down and have a cup of tea with her and it would be a great experience. Meryl Streep is this huge talent. She can play the most ridiculous parts and the most extreme parts with absolute complicity and authenticity. Faye Dunaway because I find her beauty completely refined – very fragile, but at the same time very, very strong.

Favourite music?

Anything from the ’60s. Indie rock and punk. I love Nirvana. They are my all-time heroes. Sonic Youth. Folk music. I love a little English band called Eight Legs. Adam Green, a folk singer who used to be with The Moldy Peaches. And Courtney Love.

Favourite artists?

Sylvie Fleurie for her twist on what she chooses to use as her medium: muscle cars running over makeup compacts, her use of flames in painting, her use of sculpture. It’s a good twist on fashion and beauty. Julien Opie for his black lines and use of colour. You get a feeling of the person behind the art although it’s very simple and there’s almost no detail.

Rosemary Trockle. I love her abstract patterning, her polka dots and lines, and her little childish drawings, which are sweet but obscure at the same time. I love Goya for the history and the fact that he was a painter in the courthouse and that he painted the royals as they were. He was very authentic. Painters before him did idealised portraits of royalty.

Ingres’ work is super beautiful. The skin tones are very refined and there’s this classicism blended with this hard-edged modern style. I like how Kiki Smith has a really surprising way of twisting everyday objects and making them really desirable. Also, Salvador Dali, Marlene Dumas and Man Ray.

Favourite photographers?

Nan Goldin, Diane Arbus, Bruce Weber, Robert Mapplethorpe, Richard Avedon, Louise Dahl-Wolf, Guy Bourdin, Corrine Day, Barry Letegan, Baron de Meyer, Robert Frank, Bob Richardson and Clifford Coffin. I like people who are very directional and have something to say. I love that Diane Arbus and Robert Mapplethorpe brought out people’s quirks and foibles and celebrated them. I also like how Richard Avedon and Bruce Weber’s photography makes people look very attractive and beautiful. Overall, I love photography that is surprising, pure and authentic.

Favourite architects?

The Bauhaus school of design, Le Corbusier, Philip Johnson and Rem Koolhaas. I love all of these because I love strong, modern, industrial design. But at the same time I like a twist. Industrial design with 18th century furniture, old-style homes with modern furniture.

Favourite designers?

Ann Demeulemeester, Rei Kawakubo for Commes des Garcons, Yves Saint Laurent, Alber Elbaz are the designers I admire. I wear Ann’s clothes and I was a big fan of Hedi Slimane’s work for Dior Homme.

Favourite periods of history?

My favourite periods are the ’60s, the punk era in the ’70s, the 18th century and the Renaissance. I love that in the ’60s there was a feeling of newness and the same with punk. I don’t love punk for the rebelliousness, but rather the spirit of something new and the creation of a new youth movement. That happened in the ’20s as well.

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