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www.arabnews.com ¦ January 19, 2011

fashion & beauty

12

GUCCI WESTMAN

A RELUCTANT BEAUTY ICON

Laura Gatsos

life.style@arabnews.com

I

MET GUCCI WESTMAN early in the morning at a beautiful hotel in Dubai — a mere hours after she arrived in Dubai. My interview had been slotted in last minute as a result of pulling a few strings. In fact, Westman had only been told of it five minutes prior to my joining her at the breakfast table. The 39-year-old mother of a son named Grey and a daughter called Dash looked immaculately polished, with glowing skin and despite her title of Global Creative Director for Revlon, was very minimally made up. She was dressed smartly in a tailored blazer (Rag & Bone, thanks to her husband David Neville, co-founder of the label all the cool kids are wearing), white t-shirt and killer skinny jeans (also Rag & Bone). She smiled warmly and rose to greet me as I apologized for interrupting her morning coffee (what must be a sacred element of her day as she faces a packed schedule of press and client events). Westman’s diminutive frame and gentle demeanor belied the immense power she holds in the beauty industry. As modest as she is talented (well this writing may begin to suspiciously sound as if Westman wrote it herself, but this observation is widely supported by all who have encountered her), Westman took on the role of Global Artistic Director at the all-American cosmetics brand Revlon in 2008. To those living in the Middle East, the name Revlon may be synonymous with Maybelline or Rimmel. But, to those who sat transfixed in front of the television as supermodel Cindy Crawford swept a rich red hue across her lips and nails just before leaving on a date with a tall, dark stranger, Revlon is a symbol of confidence and seduction. The idea of every woman, or the democratization of fashion and beauty appeals to Westman. Although she is friends with the likes of Madonna, Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz who she refers to by first name in passing and who is godmother to her son, Westman re-iterated how important makeup has become in the current economic climate as a way for average women to transform their look without breaking the bank.

Transformation is a word Westman used often in our conversation. While her day-to-day life is creating and transforming looks, she also feels responsible in her current post for the modernization of the beauty empire. For those in the fashion know, the next sentence to come from Westman is hardly surprising: “Tom Ford is my hero (sigh). I want to be like Ford and do for Revlon what he did for Gucci.” She was of course referring to Ford’s work in making Gucci a sexy, glamorous and desirable brand in the late 90’s. In order to bring the brand forward, Westman has committed herself to all areas of the business from travelling to product tradeshows in Japan, sitting in development meetings, forecasting trends and participating in the looks of models parading down the runways. She explains the recent process she embarked upon to create the SS 2011 looks for Oscar de la Renta. Working

from a few swatches of fabric found in his design studio, Westman started with a smoky eye, which after many manifestations resulted in a mossy green, ultimately defining the look of the Oscar woman for the season and dictating street beauty. Westman’s tiny voice grew a little louder with excitement when she spoke about her collaborations with designers. Yes, she is responsible for the most watched faces in the world. Her work sits in the makeup cases of women worldwide and photos of her plying her trade backstage are splashed across glossy magazines all over the world. Yet, for Westman, it is the fruitful artistic partnerships she forges with her peers that mean the most to her recognition. I have been a huge fan of Westman since she collaborated on the Alice in Wonderland fashion editorial conceptualized by the great Vogue Creative Director

Rima Al-Mukhtar

life.style@arabnews.com

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Anoud Badr, Fashion Gossip 10 blogger.

EOPLE ARE always interested in what’s new and upbeat. Thanks to the Internet, Facebook, YouTube, Blogspot, Wikipedia, Wordpress and Twitter, it is easier than ever to get instant news and gossip. For those interested in fashion, there is Fashion Gossip 10 — a blog that uses all those websites to offer readers juicy information on their favorite public figures and role models, including their style and fashion. Soon turning into a fashion website, the blog covers international news on fashion trends, upcoming designers, top designers, collaborations and some celebrity inspirations with a touch of high-street fashion vs. brand babies. “I started the blog around a year ago as a result of my passion for fashion,” said Anoud Badr, the founder of Fashion Gossip 10. “Everyone kept asking me to put all my ideas down for everyone to read, as they wanted my views and ideas on what to wear and how to wear it.” Badr discovered her passion for fashion since she was five-year-old. She also found pleasure in writing about fashion; consequently, she put the two together. “It has been a pleasure writing about it at the beginning on Facebook, so I started the blog. Many appreciate and look forward to it on a daily basis,” she said. Starting it with Blogspot was pretty easy, she said. One just had to follow the steps and add bits and pieces along the way to keep the blog personal and approachable. “I then invited a close friend, Dina Daood, to

Grace Coddington, which ran in the December 2003 issue. Shot outside of Paris with the participation of fashion’s own fantastical cast of characters including John Galliano, Tom Ford, Olivier Theyskens, Donatella Versace, Karl Lagerfeld and Jean Paul Gaultier, Westman was responsible for making up 21-yearold model Natalia Vodianova who is now a star in her own right. Westman told me that this particular shoot is one of her favorites as she was tasked with working with each designer to fulfill their interpretation of Alice’s blue dress. She credits Coddington as somewhat of a fairy godmother in her career. While it’s easy to get lost in anecdotes and the fantastical experiences of Westman’s career, she is in Dubai with a purpose, which is realized later that day in a small gathering of women who are eager to have Westman introduce them to the quintessentially American brand. While she plies her trade on woman after woman, Westman peppers the crowd with tips and tricks about cosmetics and application. “All over foundation is over. It’s something that should now be used as a corrective,” she declared. “Too much powder will only age a woman. It’s better not to have it all over. Just work on targeting areas that need concealing.” For those of us living in the hot climates that see the sun 365 days of the year, one is naturally prone to enjoying a sun-kissed look but Westman insists: “Only use bronzer where you would get color naturally: The forehead, the bridge of the nose and the chin.” Despite being behind a multitude of colors, compacts, mascaras, foundations, concealers, brighteners, etc., Westman is a proponent of celebrating your natural beauty. When I pointed out that she maintains a rather pared down look, she giggled and told me she barely wears any because she feels like people would look at her funny. “I mean I am there to make people the star of the show, not draw attention to myself!”

join forces with me in a permanent partnership, as she basically completes my passion with her take on vintage special and high-street finds. Because we have very different views on international and Middle Eastern fashion, we bring eye catching and mouthwatering news to our readers post by post, which we update daily and sometimes hourly,” said Badr whose Lebanese-Saudi background and her life partner’s British-Iraqi background gave her different visions and appreciation to other cultures. For Badr, beauty starts with the energy one has toward themselves, other people and the world around them. “The glow tends to come from within and no makeup can mask or bring that out. Fashion is one’s identity being projected in color, fabric and moods. To me, fashion is your own personal walking art. It is a means to express yourself,” she said. Fashion Gossip 10 feeds on street style finds and celebrity gossip from the right sources taken from different sources like fashion and gossip magazines. “We update our fashion gossip from different sources including some exclusive ones. Apart from getting information from Vogue, ELLE and Glamour, we get contacted by the source of the news, which are the designers and their PR companies. We also attend many fashion shows including Custo Barcelona, Burberry, C'est moi, Sonya Rykiel… the list is endless, but soon we will be going to Paris and London fashion weeks,” said Badr. For FG10, the more interesting and exclusive the news is, the better. “We try to get the news before it reaches the masses. Consequently, you hear it first on FG10. Our Gossip is selected depending on how juicy it is, as we have grown to know what our readers love to hear about,” she added.

Fashion Gossip 10 blog

Badr admits that it takes dedication, passion and some serious knowledge of fashion to be a professional fashion and style writer. “Fashion is a very fast-moving industry. It’s hard to keep up, but when it’s something you love, you follow it blindly. It also takes a personal style many follow and notice. When you know what you’re doing, others will follow and appreciate,” she said. For more information visit: http://fashiongossip10.blogspot.com/


Arab News - Gucci Westman feature