How Famed Makeup Artist Gucci Westman Built Westman Atelier From The Ground Up

Second Life Gucci Westman Interview

Photo:

Courtesy of Gucci Westman 

Welcome to Second Life, a podcast spotlighting successful women who've made major career changes—and fearlessly mastered the pivot. Hosted by Hillary Kerr, co-founder and chief content officer at Who What Wear, each episode will give you a direct line to women who are game changers in their fields. Subscribe to Second Life on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else you listen to stay tuned.

There are few makeup artists as legendary and prolific as Gucci Westman. She’s responsible for the beauty looks on countless magazine covers (think Jennifer Aniston for InStyle and Reese Witherspoon for Vogue) and ad campaign and runway looks for fashion’s biggest brands (Dior, Proenza Schouler, and Oscar de la Renta), and she has a celebrity client list that could fill this page. Westman’s coveted aesthetic has become renowned and unmistakable, a supernatural dewy glow, which you may or may not recognize as makeup at all. 

Photo:

@gucciwestman

Growing up between Sweden and L.A. gave Westman a unique perspective on beauty from a young age, and at 23, she enrolled in a four-month program at a makeup school in Paris. She was hooked and shortly thereafter moved back to L.A. to put her newly learned techniques to use. Though she worked many of her first jobs without pay, prioritizing the experience and exposure, it wasn’t long before word of her profound talent and dedicated work ethic spread, and she added her first legendary piece of work to her résumé: the makeup for Spike Jonze’s feature film directorial debut, Being John Malkovich. It was there that she met Cameron Diaz, whom she would work with regularly in the coming years, while adding countless other celebrities to her roster.

Photo:

@gucciwestman

Westman eventually moved to New York, where she met Vogue’s creative director, Grace Coddington (tune in for that story), and her career would be forever changed. “I had probably a year and a half straight where I did all of the covers, and then I also had multiple issues where I did the cover and every story,” she remembers of her early days with Vogue. Westman had become arguably the most influential makeup artist of the time, working between editorial and brand campaigns and fashion week runway shows from New York to Milan, where she recounts not only spotting trends on the runway but also creating them. “In New York, I used to do sometimes eight or nine shows, and if I really wanted a red lip to be a trend, I would do it multiple times until it translated that the red lip is a trend,” says Westman. 

Photo:

@gucciwestman

Westman went on to become the international artistic director at Lancôme and spent 13 years as the global artistic director at Revlon, where she worked on product development, color, and trend collections for the brand. Those experiences became invaluable when, two years ago, after identifying a white space in the market, she debuted her own line of clean, high-performance, and uncompromisingly luxurious makeup under Westman Atelier. Creating formulations from scratch that meet her highly critical performance standards and exclude her extensive ingredient blacklist is no easy feat, but as Westman says, "nothing that comes easily is rewarding." Now, as the founder and creative director of the brand, Westman’s aesthetic and creative vision are coming alive in a brand-new way.

Photo:

@gucciwestman

Tune in to this week’s episode of Second Life for behind-the-scenes moments from Westman’s famed makeup career and how she's built Westman Atelier from the ground up. To shop the brand's best-selling products, keep scrolling.

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