The legendary make-up artist documented his daily life from behind-the-scenes Irving Penn shoots to lunch with Liza
Kevyn Aucoin is legendary. Widely considered the world’s first celebrity make-up artist, he had an unparalleled influence on the beauty industry. From Cindy Crawford’s lip liner to Christy Turlington's arched brow, Aucoin was responsible for some of the most recognisable looks of the 90s and his legacy lives on in a new generation of make-up artists who were inspired by his work.
“When I was about eight years old I bought Kevyn Aucoin's book Making Faces and read it from front to back over a million times,” Isamaya Ffrench says. “It was my first introduction to real make-up and I memorised each stroke, each contour and would attempt to recreate all the make-up transformations in the secrecy of my bedroom.”
Aucoin was also known for his extensive documenting of his life and career which he would chronicle in his journals, polaroids and home videos. While much of the archive footage he recorded was made available in the form of 2017 documentary Kevyn Aucoin: Beauty & The Beast In Me, his scrapbook-style journals have never been seen publicly – until now.
The Makeup Museum has unveiled a vast digital archive of the journals that Aucoin kept between 1983 to 1994. Preserved until now by his family, the journals document Aucoin’s meetings, contacts and milestones alongside candid polaroids snapped on the sets of everything from Vogue editorials to Chanel campaigns, with photographers including Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, and Steven Meisel.
“The journals are so special because they show what was important to him. He loved what he did and he loved the friends he made along the way. It feels to me that he documented everything because he was so in awe of the life he was living, and he might need to glance back for a pinch me moment when he doubted if it was all real,” says Samantha Adkisson, niece of Kevyn Aucoin. “We are so grateful to the Makeup Museum for digitising these journals. The process of preserving them alone is very difficult, so the Makeup Museum was a blessing in this endeavour.”
Alongside documenting behind the scenes of his career, Aucoin’s journals served as a space for mementos that were meaningful to him, from a newspaper clipping of an article about his parents founding the PFLAG chapter in his hometown to animal rights stickers, birthday cards, and family photographs.
“Kevyn's imprint on our industry is still very much alive today. He opened the door for new generations of makeup artists to walk through, and legitimised our craft in a way no one had done before,” says Rachel Goodwin, make-up artist and Makeup Museum co-founder.
“So much has changed in the beauty business since Kevyn's era. His journals allow us to take in what has changed and what has stayed the same in a very personal way. The kind of tenacity and passion it takes to build and sustain a career of his level is nothing short of extraordinary. Nothing about Kevyn's journey was passive or unintentional, his journals grant us a map from which to trace the heart and mind of a creative genius.”
The Makeup Museum will showcase exclusive images from the new Kevyn Aucoin digital journal archive on Instagram and in the newly launched Makeup Museum mobile app.
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