Marc Jacobs Beauty Interview – Marc Jacobs Beauty Launches Shameless Foundation


Marc Jacobs is committed to self expression—and he’s got the robust tattoo collection to prove it. He’s branded himself with images of Spongebob Squarepants, the red M&M, the Poltergeist movie poster, and a rainbow donut. One tattoo that really stands out, however, is the word “Shameless” in elaborate cursive above his left pectoral. It’s the very inspiration for Marc Jacobs Beauty’s newest launch: Shameless foundation, which has a logo that is an exact recreation of Jacobs’ ink.

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“I got the word ‘shameless’ tattooed on my chest many years ago because I aspire to a life without shame,” he told ELLE.com when we sat down with him in Paris ahead of the product’s launch party during fashion week. “I want to be happy with my choices and be comfortable with who I am and what I do and how I do it.”

To the fashion designer, shameless makeup means makeup that “allows for one’s own skin to come through.” He elaborated, “The joy of creating your identity is the foremost thing on my mind and what I’m excited about.” Case in point: Adwoa Aboah, the face of the campaign, models the foundation with her freckles proudly shining through.

After trying the new foundation I can say it does what he promises—feels lightweight, moisturizing, and more like a veil than spackling paste over imperfections. I’ve gotten several inquiries about my skincare routine after people complement my (faked) even complexion—clearly the foundation is doing its job. Plus, I’ve found the shades—there are 29—are adaptable once they melt into the skin so multiple shades fit me (something I’ve struggled with in the past with my tan-somewhat-yellow skin).

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Here, we talk more with the designer about evolving attitudes toward men wearing makeup, what made him bring back ’80s beauty for fall 2018, and all the love he has for drag queens (and trying drag himself).

How does Marc Beauty reflect Marc Jacobs, the fashion brand?

When we started [Marc Beauty in 2013], we had no idea. It was like a blank piece of paper. We were sitting there in a room in my offices and I told stories about things that were in my life that I found appealing or attractive; I’ve talked about people that inspired me–girls, women, men, collections, fashion moments—and everything was absorbed by this team . Through these back and forth conversations, we formulated what Marc Beauty would be: “the right amount of wrong.” The approach was based on creative self-expression. Because I’m a designer and my first love and what I know how to do is fashion design, I feel that’s how they always approached me. There’s still a certain level of creativity in the storytelling within the product that they get and they know that’s how I work.

Jacobs paying homage to Adwoa Aboah’s Shameless foundation campaign image.

ELLE/Kristina Rodulfo

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Adwoa Aboah is the face of the campaign — how would you say she defines beauty in 2018?

I met Adwoa through [LOVE magazine editor in chief] Katie Grand. What I thought was so great about having her for the Shameless launch is that she has this very beautiful, freckled complexion. You wouldn’t typically see freckles in a foundation ad. Foundation, in many cases and for most beauty companies, connotes a cover-up or mask. It’s perfectly fine if that’s what one chooses, but what we wanted to transmit with Shameless was that your skin comes through this foundation. It’s not just a heavy cover-up but more something that has a buildable lightness. One can tailor how much coverage they want or how much of themselves they want to come through the foundation. I think Adwoa’s a perfect choice; she’s also somebody I admire—I admire her [platform] Gurls Talk—so she just represents somebody I feel is beautiful, interesting, clever.

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There’s been a lot of positive reception with the range of shades. Did you set out planning to cater to everyone?

I don’t know that we cater to everyone, but I do remember having a meeting with the beauty team and I think there was a moment where, through social media, there was a reaction that certain women felt we didn’t have enough of a range [for the Re(Marc)able foundation]. I remember saying to them that this is something we should look at that I feel is very, very important. They went back and took what I was saying seriously. When we started working on Shameless, they agreed that it should include 29 shades and that felt very good, diverse, and a complete range of color. I was happy that they heard me. I was also hearing what people who were fans of Marc Beauty were saying was missing.

People are holding beauty companies more accountable than ever in terms of inclusivity in products and campaigns. What do you think of the current movement?

I think that’s great and I’m ashamed it’s taken this long, but that’s okay, whatever it takes, it takes. I’m not gonna bitch about what should be or what shouldn’t be, or how fast life moves. It’s good that there’s a conscious effort on the part of a lot of different people to be sensitive to what people’s needs are, and to see people, and to hear people, and to respond. I think it’s very important and it certainly makes this time we’re living in very different from the times past. It’s not all talk. I think we’re going in a good direction. I think there are a group of people who really have good intentions and are doing everything they possibly can.

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My notion of beauty isn’t conventional and never has been.

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As far as age diversity goes, you’ve always had a wide range in the people that you cast.

Honestly—and I don’t want to pat myself on the back—I actually don’t like when people celebrate how open and diverse they are. I really don’t like it. I find it a little dubious when people toot their own horn in that way. I’ve always been interested in just people for who they are, it doesn’t really matter what they look like. Of course, looks are something that I’m interested in, in terms of style and fashion, but I’m interested in people and what they have to say and their personality. I like such a range and variety of looks—that’s the reality.

I guess my notion of beauty isn’t conventional and never has been. I love people with a “classic” look like Kaia Gerber but then also somebody completely different. In terms of age it’s the same thing; we’ve done campaigns and portraits of people throughout my whole career of various ages and races, but what they’ve all had in common is that they’re incredible human beings who contributed something interesting. Whether its through acting, or through music, or through art, or through fashion—I tend to like people for what they do, not what they look like.

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As we saw with your fall 2018 show,’80s are a big beauty influence—especially in terms of color coordinating makeup. Why do you think the era resonates today?

Sometimes the wrong things become the right things—that’s the irony of fashion. I just saw that Margiela exhibition [at Palais Galliera], it was very interesting. I remembered my grunge days when I first started in fashion, we were all responding against how the ’80s were: The power dressing, aggression, and overly made-up glamazon. That’s how grunge came to be. That’s how a lot of things come to be—a reaction. But, what happens is when that becomes accepted, you go back and the irony is that you embrace the things you hated or responded against. By embracing the thing you dismissed or acted against, it becomes a more interesting thing to look at. When people learn a secret language, then you have to adopt another secret language. In terms of the color matching, when people start talking in a youthful way about breaking rules then there’s something nice about embracing an old rule. I don’t know if it was ever a good rule to match your eyeshadow to your clothing, but there’s something so simplistic. I just think that’s kind great.

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You’ve always been a fan of drag queens, and they inspire so many modern makeup trends. What is it about drag culture that inspires you?

My favorite RuPaul quote is “we’re all born naked and the rest is drag” because we are, that’s it. You can talk about any skin color, any age, but one thing everyone has in common is feelings. We all feel the same thing. [It’s a] human desire to adorn oneself to look attractive, to dress, to [apply] makeup, and express ourselves through those choices. We appeal to others and we make those choices for ourselves, but that’s a human instinct and I think. What you put on, what you apply, what choices you make, I do relate to that whether it’s the drag queens or just the drag that everybody deals with in everyday life. People who don’t call themselves drag queens are still in drag as they make their choices and go out in the world.

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How do you feel when you do drag?

With [drag queen and makeup artist] Kurtis [Dam-Mikkelsen] or Miss Fame, it was so intense. I was in the chair for hours and hours but it’s so great and again, Fame is so passionate about that art of transformation and about drag and makeup, so to sit there and be that subject and let him do his thing was great, I just loved it. When the eyebrows went on the tapes went up under the wig, it was really cool.

People who don’t call themselves drag queens are still in drag.

Any beauty tips that you’ve learned from drag queens?

The story of Velvet Noir [mascara] is as a kid, I used to watch my mom put on makeup and she had learned a trick from the drag queens back in the day—the ’70s or late 60s. She would take a velvet ribbon, and they would scrape it with a knife into a pile. She would put on her mascara and use the black velvet pile and clump it onto her mascara to make her lashes super, super thick and clumpy.

So much of makeup today or so-called Instagram makeup borrows from drag. Contouring, “baking,” overlining the lips…

I think in the lingo and the language and the vocabulary of drag, it’s become this thing. I remember back in the day, you’d have queens who would talk a certain way but now, it’s so known. I think what happened was we go through cycles and women, in terms of fashion, there was this movement towards natural. It would move from models to celebrities and [in] all those US Weekly [magazines], people would see celebrities with a Starbucks cup and they’d be glammed up only on the red carpet. So, with drag, it’s like even those casual moments became an opportunity to do drag, which makes it more of an event, doesn’t it? It’s more exciting but definitely the lingo, the vocabulary and of course, what RuPaul has contributed—I don’t know how it spread but I definitely think through social media and through Instagram and makeup artists, there’s this youthful vocabulary about all that stuff which is really great.

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It seems even men who aren’t doing full faces of makeup are getting into beauty more in the form of skincare.

Today, young men are more interested in fashion and that extends to grooming and makeup and skincare. I was in Barney’s recently, and the amount of “men’s” skin care products…Going back to when I was a kid shopping with my grandmother or my mother, the cosmetics floor at Bloomingdale’s was a women’s thing. It just seems like it’s much more open and different conversations than before.

Charlie [Defrancesco], my boyfriend—I wouldn’t say he has a ten-step program, but he certainly has a lot of products and he certainly gets into masks and all kinds of stuff. Again, people who love to take care of their skin and who love makeup—it’s is just a ritual they enjoy, it isn’t just self-care, it’s actually a pleasure, they really do indulge in it.

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Do you have any self-care or beauty rituals?

I don’t do that much. I just recently went to Rescue Spa in New York. It’s really good. I enjoyed it. I went there to have a facial because I used to do facials twice a year, or three or four when I was in Paris going back and forth at Joëlle Ciocco. I’m not a big spa lover, so I get antsy and I just can’t take too much of it, but I thought it was good. I do use Joëlle’s products. They gave me an astringentthat burns like hell but feels like it’s doing a good job.

Do you feel like men’s attitude towards wearing makeup has changed over time?

It’s funny, because earlier today, somebody said the word “unisex” and I think that’s such an outdated word. I don’t think makeup is for men or for women. I look online and I see all these male makeup artists who wear makeup. I’ve never been somebody who cares whether it’s a women’s coat or a men’s coat. I buy women’s clothes. I buy what I like, I wear what I like. And, I’m not concerned with those labels of masculine or feminine or gender. Makeup to me isn’t men’s makeup or women’s makeup, it’s just makeup. Like drag—it’s not male drag or female drag, it’s just drag; it’s applied, it’s something you put on you, it’s a choice.

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Marc Jacobs Beauty

Marc Jacobs Beauty Shameless Youthful 24-Hr Foundation SPF 25, $46; sephora.com

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