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Courtesy of Brithani Phatal

Anything goes in Brithani Phatal’s joyful world of make-up

Using beauty as a medium to express joy, the make-up artist trades in fantasy and transformation

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Stepping into the beauty world of Vietnamese-Canadian make-up artist Brithani Phatal is a joyful thing: anything goes. Scroll down their feed and you’ll see classic old-school glam celebrated alongside the weird and wonderful (think: the texture of natto slime being stretched across someone’s cheeks). It’s a zest for beauty, and it’s infectious. “Beauty is the reason for every season,” they say. “There is always something beautiful to look forward to… Frostbite cheeks and hard nipples in winter, flowers blossoming and baby animals squealing in spring, sweaty skin and watermelon lips in summer and pumpkin spice lattes in fall.”

Growing up in their parent’s clothing factory in Montreal, it was the potential to use fashion and beauty to shapeshift that inspired Phatal’s career. “For as long as I can remember, I would always get bored of the way I look and want to transform myself,” they say. “[Now] I give people the opportunity to transform the idea of who they think they are into who they want to be... I believe I was put on this earth to empower and heal through the fantasy.”

Now LA-based, Phatal’s portfolio boasts an endlessly varied stream of collabs, from glam for clients like Caroline Vreeland to high-fashion shoots for the likes of Diesel, to creative projects with new-Gen faces like Princess Gollum. Read on for the full download from Phatal, from their ultimate TV villain (clue: they’re a Housewife), life-changing Drag Race look, and dreams of becoming a dolphin-eagle…

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and where you grew up?

Brithani Phatal: I am a queer, French-speaking Vietnamese Canadian. I grew up as an only child to parents that made me WERK! They made me try everything; basketball, judo, chess, piano, tennis and more. But I only excelled in art class. 

I remember spending my childhood in my parents’ clothing factory, which led me to develop an affinity for fashion and the process of creating clothes. As I grew older I ate my feelings and wore my many personalities thus developing the shape-shifting capabilities that led me to where I am today.

How did you get into doing make-up?

Brithani Phatal: For as long as I can remember, I would always get bored with the way I look and always want to transform myself. I would go out with my friends and be one of the girls. I became so good at looking the part that it sold itself. Everyone wanted me to revolutionise their look.

Which fictional character do you most relate to?

Brithani Phatal: I relate more to reality TV stars, such as the Real Housewives. Kenya Moore is my ultimate favourite because to some she is the villain, but to me, she just doesn’t care about being liked. She’s also the queen of throwing shade, which is very me when I’m in the shower practising my comeback lines. 

Who is your beauty icon or favourite look of all time? 

Brithani Phatal: I think someone who left a huge impact on me in the way I see fashion and beauty is Violet Chachki. All of her runway looks during her time on drag race were beyond major, but her season eight finale had me pick up my jaw from the floor. It really expanded my own limited vision of art, drag, and drama.

When do you feel most beautiful?

Brithani Phatal: Not going to lie, I kinda feel like Bella Hadid after my first bowel movement of the day. But a good cream blush also has that power on me. I don’t usually wear make-up anymore on my day-to-day, but there is something about putting burnt terracotta on my cheeks that makes me feel like I put intention on myself and that makes me feel ready to slay.

You encounter a hostile alien race and sound is their only mechanism for communication. What song would you play to inspire them to spare you and the rest of the human race?

Brithani Phatal: “I’m With You” by Avril Lavigne. Take me by the hand, take me somewhere new. I don’t know who you are, but I… I’m with you…

You have to replace part of your body with that of an animal or a mythological creature. What do you go for and why?

Brithani Phatal: I would love to have a dolphin tail and eagle wings, just so I can slay the ocean and the sky. 

Are you optimistic about the future?

Brithani Phatal: I’m mostly an optimistic person, but I don’t really think about the future. I’m a dreamer and I still trust people with childlike naivety. So I guess yes, I am optimistic about what’s next.

What is the future of beauty?

Brithani Phatal: It’ll be free of gender, but not of plastic, but still fierce.