I have written earlier in the year about Ellis Faas and her make-up brand. This week I had a chance to meet her in person, listen to her being interviewed by her friend Bo, ask questions and try new and already existing products in her eponymous line. There are certainly a lot of make-up brand s and make-up artists but somehow a lot of cosmetic products seem mainstream. With Ellis Faas make-up you get ‘niche’ products which are not only quite superior in their colours and formulations to many other brands, but they also have their own identity and you feel more unique when using them. And believe me, I love my make-up but am quite fussy about my preferences-have been for a while and like that I will remain, that’s a promise!
The meeting was held at Liberty’s charming tea room and was quite intimate, as the limited number of clients attended, which made it even more special. Ellis is a striking woman, with dirty blond hair and beautiful eyes who wore a very unusual belt with a bag attached at her hip level-quite unlike anything I have seen before. She was quite open with her answers but I was under the impression that she is a woman who is very self- assured and knows her own mind but wouldn’t let you in easily. Her lovely brother Thijs was also present (this sweet and handsome guy drove his sister to London from Amsterdam for the event as Ellis is a nervous short-distance flyer-if that is not dedication, I don’t know what is!) and I find it very endearing that he and his sister work as a team. Thijs is also very hands on when talking to customers and navigating you to the Ellis Faas make-up artists who were full of advice and tricks, without imposing anything on you.
Now, back to the evening. Ellis’s grandparents ran a very successful hair salon in Amsterdam which also stocked up make-up (including the cream that her grandfather formulated), like Guerlain-which was an incredibly innovative concept, considering the times. Ellis became fascinated by Guerlain lipsticks which were high in pigment and very drying, unlike the lipsticks that Ellis designs now.
When Ellis was young she wanted to be a fashion designer, even going as far as designing fur bikinis, which never turned into a runaway success. Ellis liked (and still does !) fashion and photography and she started taking pictures of herself wearing make-up ‘looks’ soon realising that make-up made a difference to how one looks. So considering make-ups versatility she stuck to make-up and later becoming a very successful make-up artist who worked with many famous brands and photographers and was doing runaway shows. Ellis motto ( I think ..) is ‘it has to mean something to you and you have to stick with it’. One has to persevere and be stubborn, she says. Of course luck plays part in it, and so does being at the right time and at the right place. When Ellis started working she didn’t want to follow trends and even though she might have been less technical than other make-up artists, she preferred to stick to her own formula, ‘being quick and poetic with the looks’ that she was creating.
Ellis always loved working with colour and texture but noticed that big fashion houses or brands were often stuck in their own ways, while Ellis wanted to identify something unique and compact, as she says ‘it wasn’t a marketing idea, but a very selfish one’ when it came down to developing her own brand of make-up.
When she thought of packaging she was guided by the military organisation and precision so, her make-up case, which comprises all of your make up-foundation, concealer, lip colour, mascara, blusher, powder plus a mirror, might look a little grand in real life but if you consider that it holds all of your make-up needs, it will make perfect sense-and it actually looks stylishly cool too. The point that Ellis has made that made all of us present giggle also related to the holder. The top of it holds powder and mirror but Ellis wryly noted that if you don’t use powder you can put your pills, vitamins or condoms in it-have you met such an originally practical make-up artist? The make-up case is based around the idea of a gun and bullets-go, see it and you will understand how ingeniously that idea got transferred into a compact, which is a modernly cool storage device that will speak highly of your style credentials. Also consider the fact that it was an idea in Ellis head which the creative team had to interpret and make it real. The make-up ‘holder’ was a starting point and based on this idea’s strength, Ellis went on to create clever and unusual formulations.
When it comes to colours Ellis is the first to admit that colour is her life, so developing them for her make-up was easy for her.
It was absolutely logical that if you want to give women lots of choice, one has to concentrate on the colours that stand up or originate from human body. Take Ellis’s Red, a versatile red lip colour. Red is the colour of blood and as all of us have blood running through our veins-well, one doubts when it comes to some people around us but never mind this fact-it suits every skin tone as it won’t ‘clash’. Ellis calls it ‘beautifying’ rather than ‘goryfying’.
I have to say that having already used Ellis’s eponymous eye colour, concealer and blusher, I can honestly testify that her textures are unique and that her make-up stays put, while you face continues to look and most importantly feel good. I have now also added Glazed Lips in 303 to my selection (which works better in the summer, as it doesn’t stay ‘put’ as long as Creamy Lips or Milky Lips textures but you can have a more vivid colour or touch it down, if you want a less subtle effect). I also want to add that Ellis Faas counter is also very distinct, with the displays having little ‘pools’ of colour around every shade of concealer, eye shadow etc. so you can see what colours you might like before you start trying them on.
Ellis is thinking of developing primers to add to her make-up collection but definitely rules out the skin care line under her name, saying that ‘textures and colours’ are her expertise, and not the skincare plus let’s be honest, that market id already over saturated.
When working on her formulations Ellis did talk to other make-up artists to get feedback but she does stress that all final decisions were hers and hers alone. For example she does say that when you put foundation on, it has to ‘stay on the skin for a little while in order to ‘react’ with your skin’, so bear that in mind when you are trying things at make-up counters. Try, give it a few minutes and then go outside, into daylight, to assess how it looks on the skin.
When asked about other brands Ellis says that she does feel the affinity with Francois Nars and MAC (who were the first in the market to bring pigments into play) but Ellis Faas Human Colours collection is distinctly her own, I sense, supported by her brother and her team, some of which I think are also her friends. Who says that a woman can’t make-up her mind? This Dutch powerforce of a woman is definitely needs to be reckoned with.
p.s I also want to thank Natasha and Ana, the Ellis Faas make-up girls, who were very helpful and full of useful application tips and techniques during the evening. Maybe next time I can convince Ellis to do my make-up, so I can look achingly cool and feel like a supermodel at least for a short while .)