"Makeup is an accessory to fashion," said François Nars, makeup artist and founder of Nars Cosmetics. "You buy a bag, you buy shoes, you put on eyeliner, you buy a lipstick, makeup compliments the clothes."
Nars believes there's more freedom for the makeup artist to be independent today.
Nars should know. He has been a leader in the trend, having started started his own cosmetics line in 1994 by selling a collection of 12 lipsticks to Barneys New York. Over the years, he's built his brand into a beauty empire, and his latest achievement was the opening of his first stand-alone makeup boutique in SoHo, which was opened on the eve of Fashion Week last Wednesday.
"Compared to 20 years ago, this didn't exist," he said. "Makeup lines were more abstract, they were just a big name, we didn't know who was behind it. There was no MAC, there was no Bobbi Brown, there was no me, so we've come up with a whole new breed of lines."
"In my case, I take care of the line really well. I overlook everything. If a color comes out, they know it was designed by me, not just by chemists creating colors. It feels personal and that's what women like, there's a face to the brand," he said.
But even mass-market cosmetics companies are now associated with makeup artists with clout, and they are exerting their influence during Fashion Week.
Pat McGrath, a makeup artist who works exclusively with Procter & Gamble cosmetics brands such as Cover Girl, Max Factor and Dolce & Gabanna works on 32 fashion shows per fashion season. She creates each beauty look by "looking at the collection, the shapes, the tones, and [seeing] how we can take the characteristics in the collection and translate it into beauty."
Through collaborative and creative processes, designers, hair stylists and makeup artists work together to create cohesive and inspiring looks for the upcoming season. Prior to each runway show, the stylist coordinates looks for the runway and creates a line-up. At the hair and makeup test, the hair stylist, makeup artist and designer review the collection and collaborate with the designer to create an overall aesthetic.
"Everything works together, the makeup, the lighting, the choice of runway, it all works together to complete a beautiful picture," McGrath said.
But McGrath admits there is "a lot more interest" in the contributions makeup artists make to the shows.