Makeup artist Nigel Stanislaus on creating the perfect VNZMAs look

Nigel Stanislaus

Maybelline New York Makeup Director Nigel Stanislaus has made up the faces of Gigi Hadid, Cindy Crawford – and every supermodel and celeb in between.

Safe to say, he knows a thing or two about creating the perfect red carpet makeup look. So it’s only appropriate he’s in town to bring his makeup magic to our local celebrities and musicians, for the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards, where Maybelline New York is the official makeup sponsor. We caught up with Nigel as he was about to leave his current base in Australia:

You’re about to fly out to New Zealand for the NZ Music Awards – have you been to New Zealand before?
I’m leaving the morning of the Music Awards! I’ve been out three times for Maybelline in the past, for launches and for fashion shows.

How long are you here for and what do you hope to get up to other than the Awards?
I’m sure it’ll be a fully jam-packed couple of days. I’ll be meeting lots of people and the Maybelline New York team and we’ll be making up lots of New Zealand celebrities and musicians. I can’t tell you who yet though… And then I’m going to attend the Music Awards, which I think is the best thing of all! I might have an early morning spare the day after the Awards but that’s it. That’s the life of Nigel, really!

Do you know much about New Zealand music? Is there anyone there you hope to see?
Oh no, I’m not really that familiar, so you’ll have to forgive me! I’ve been based in New York for pretty much the last five years so I have been dealing with a lot of the artists over there. I’ll have to educate myself a little bit more – I haven’t even got the list [of artists] yet, it’s that secret! But that’s why I’m coming – I love music. I’ve been a part of the ARIAS in Australia before and I work with a couple of musicians in America. But with New Zealand, it’s somewhere new that I can explore – this is my trip where I can get to know some of the guys over there! And I love new music, I listen to all types of music.

What is your go-to awards night makeup look?
This season we’ll be doing lots of beautiful skin. We’ll be creating a velvet skin with a bit of contouring and highlighting. And we are not stepping back with the eyelashes! Maybelline is very famous for their mascaras and we do like to brag about how amazing our lashes will look.

When it comes to red carpet fashion, sparkle and sheer rule right now. What are the beauty trends you’re seeing for red carpet glamour?
This season – particularly at fashion week – there were a lot of eyes being played up. And it wasn’t just your standard smokey eye, it was a lot of different types of eyes. We saw a beautiful round eye at Toni Maticevski and we’re seeing more of this round eye everywhere. It’s almost like a Japanese anime shape, instead of the feline, catflick that a lot of girls like to do. If you look at Marc Jacobs (I was a part of that show), they also did that round shape – and used colours like lilac, violet, blues and greens. Those colours are coming back in a really pretty way. Lots of people are also coming with chartreuse eyeshadow. Other than eyes and lashes and eyeshadow, there’s also lots of focus on lips and lip colour. It’s not just about a one shade application though, it’s more of a reverse ombre look. It’s really fun to play with. Lips for many, many years have been one shade – you just pick up a colour, slap it all on and walk out the door. A reverse ombre look is darker on the inside and lighter on the outside and it gives a very youthful, pure look. Like a young ‘maiden’ – maybe I’ve been watching too much Game of Thrones! – but imagine a maiden biting into a plum and the inside of her lips are just a bit stained. That’s the style we’re going for – instead of a full, boisterous look, it’s more of an innocent look. It’s very popular with all the K-Pop girls in Korea!

That’s quite a contrasting trend to what we’ve been seeing recently with the overlined lips?
That’s the best thing about makeup and music and fashion – everything that is created is a contradiction. Where the world has Elizabeth Taylor, they also had Marilyn Monroe – think about that, they’re total opposites. So on one side of the world, people love Kylie Jenner, who has taken over with her style and her full lips, and on the other side of the world – in Asia – they love the reverse ombre look.

As we head into summer and party season, what would be your tips for a beautiful party look?
1) Please play with colour! So you could have a beautiful bright-ish eye and a strong matte lip. I love a matte lip this season and it’s really, really pretty. It’s also great in summer as it stays put for longer in the heat. You don’t want your lipstick coming off on the coconut do you?!
2) Create a faux glow. Use a shimmer stick and place it on the high points of the face to give a strobing effect and a faux glow. In summer, when it’s hot you can’t put too much cream on your face because the makeup won’t last. But you can’t go too matte as it will look very artificial and cakey. So what we do is create a faux glow where we add it at the end so the skin looks alive and glowing and luminous.

What are the five products every girl should carry with her in her makeup bag?
Are you putting me on a beauty diet or something?! Okay number one, concealer. You must at least have a concealer of some sort. Number two, mascara. Number three, brows – a brow pencil. And number four, I would say a bronzer or a blush. And number five, a good lipstick. Wow, that’s so hard. Bronzer or blush, I kind of cheated there!

What touch-up essentials should someone carry with them in their evening bag?
Do you mean a celebrity or an attendee? A makeup artist should never kiss and tell about what their celebrities do! But what I would recommend they take with them is usually two things: a mattifying powder and a lipstick to touch up. A mattifying powder should be used to press into the T-zone of your face and around the side of your nose and cheek area. This is because when you take photos you don’t want to look like you’re sweaty, even though you’re not – and especially at an event like the Music Awards when the flashes are going off like you wouldn’t believe! You have to make sure that while the rest of your body could be shimmery, your T-zone and the side of your nose remain matte.

You’ve made up the faces of countless celebrities and models, who has been your favourite and why?
So many! What are you doing to me?! I’ve worked with Gigi [Hadid] and her sister Bella. And I’ve also worked with Gigi’s best friend, Kendall [Jenner]. Gigi, I’ve worked with on several occasions, and she’s lovely. She does the job really well and she’s such a great girl and very clever. She works very hard, her sister does as well. I adore them both. When they first started I thought ‘hmm let’s have a look at these girls, are they the new Paris Hilton?’ but they work hard for their clients, they work very hard to keep themselves in shape and they’re business savvy. I’ve also worked with Suki Waterhouse, Coco Rocha, Agyness Deyn and one of my besties – who I haven’t spoken to in a long time, I’m a really bad person – Ruby Rose. She’s a good one, I have so much respect for her. All these years I’ve been working with her, she’s the only one that never asks me for a certain look or gives me any instructions. She just comes to work, sits down on the chair and tries to finish off a tweet to a fan – she never says “I feel like a red lip today” or anything like that. Afterwards, she’s like “Oh, purple eyeshadow… Okay, great -thanks!” and then leaves. She never goes “this isn’t me” or “I don’t like that” and I think that’s why she’s working so much today. She’s got a great attitude.

Nigel Stanislaus and Gigi Hadid

Which celeb have you not worked with that you would love to?
I would love to work with Emily Blunt. I just need to meet her!

With all the travel and crazy hours you do, what is your secret to relaxing and winding down?
That’s a hard one and I must tell you, I’m still learning. I’ve been in this business since 1999 and I still haven’t really learned how to relax! But what’s been really effective for me is meditation… in a hippie kind of way. But really, I have tons of time to myself – 26 or 27 hours travelling on a plane sometimes – so I use that time to reflect and meditate and be grateful for what I have today as a makeup artist. I’m very lucky.

You posted about leg contouring and illuminating products on your Instagram recently – tell me about these! Is this the next big trend in contouring?
Oh yes! I’ve learned through my years living in America that in shows like Victoria’s Secret that they have two makeup teams – one for the face and one for the body. And nobody ever says this, but when you see Karlie Kloss and all these girls on the runway – and I know they’re all like 10 foot tall – they have a whole team of makeup artists behind them, just contouring their legs. How we do this is to mattify the sides and the inside of the legs and shimmer up the middle panel of the legs to make them look leaner and toner. I reckon if you wanted to try this at home, just use the Maybelline Shimmer Stick down the middle panel of your legs and then use the Maybelline Matte Bronzer on the outsides and inside of your legs. Instagram me, and show me how you go!


Words: Kelly McAuliffe
Photos: Supplied