Make Up For Ever Celebrates 30 Years With Maquillage Masterpieces

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Zuhair Murad’s bold butterfly motif
Sacha Heron

Body painting isn’t new to the runway: We’ve seen human canvases multiple times at Louis Vuitton, and today at Rick Owens, Lucia Pieroni covered models head to toe in “chalky” shades of mauve, blue, and white. There are few beauty giants, however, that made this concept their bread and butter—that is, except for Make Up For Ever. The French mastermind behind the brand, Dany Sanz, never set out to create a cosmetics company, although she was certainly interested in creations of other kinds, studying sculpting and painting at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. But a stint behind the scenes at a theater would lead to a life-changing discovery: The pro could decorate a living and breathing figure just as well as she could a lifeless set.


Sanz inspects the Kenzo suit backstage
Sacha Heron

Thirty years later, MUFE celebrated its anniversary with a show at the City of Light’s Palais de Tokyo museum. Models emerged in pairs through circular openings in the stage, the place where it all began for Sanz, one wearing an ensemble from six select designers (Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Kenzo, Emilio Pucci, Shiatzy Chen, Valentin Yudashkin, and Zuhair Murad), the other an incredibly realistic hand-painted copy. The team started prepping at 9 a.m., airbrushing, stenciling, stamping bodies with glitter, and finally sealing it in place with Mist & Fix (a product one could also use to set a simpler form of makeup). “It kind of feels like when you go to the beach and you have sand all over,” explained the model wearing the rainbow Pucci replica. While Sanz said that many aspects of the project were challenging, such as duplicating the synthetic fabrics and drawing the minute details, the biggest hurdle was covering the, ahem, lady bits. “It was really an adventure for the girls,” she laughed. “Sometimes it’s not the creative things that are the most difficult, but the basic [elements].”


The Pucci piece
Sacha Heron

The hours on end that the models spent standing arched over tables and contorting into positions so that the teams could cover every area (and I mean every area) with color would ultimately be washed down the drain in a matter of minutes at the end of the night. “It just turns into a puddle of brown glitter,” noted the Pucci model. “It’s a very special art,” said Sanz. “You do it and it disappears. Poof, and it’s gone!” Fashion will forever be fleeting, but this spectacle took the notion to an entirely new level.


Zipped into Jean-Charles de Castelbajac
Sacha Heron


A metallic bodycon dress by Valentin Yudashkin
Sacha Heron


Shiatzy Chen’s dark florals
Sacha Heron