Black Swan Dances into Theaters

December 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Fashion Tips & Finds

In true Hollywood fashion, last night’s New York Red Carpet movie premiere of Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” was a gala event attended by stars Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, VIncent Cassel, Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder. The thriller is already garnering rave reviews about the consuming rivalry between a veteran dancer and her competition.  The Premiere was sponsored by DIOR Beauty, and, as a special treat, the press kit included a really interesting Q&A with “Black Swan” Makeup Department Head Margie Durand and Makeup Designer Judy Chin.

Q: How does a makeup artist prepare to work on a film? Do you receive guidance from the director or collaborate with the costume designer/art director/key hair stylist on the makeup look?

Margie: When I begin working on a film I speak to the director and all of the creative team if possible.  The directors inspiration and vision really drives the process and I try to deliver that vision in makeup.

Judy: As I read the script, I try to envision the characters, taking into account their background (age, personal history, affluence, profession). As I see the plot develop in the story, I make note of how these events might affect their appearance.  When I’m designing the looks for a film, it’s very important to consider the director’s visual style and tastes. Occasionally, I get to collaborate with the costume or production designers. I always try to find out how the actors will be dressed, as that can have a significant influence on the makeup look.  While our designs are often created independently at first, I find that the hair stylist and I work very closely to be sure that our looks fit together and bring the characters to life.

Q: How does a makeup design contribute to building a movie character?

Judy: What I’ve always loved about makeup design is its contribution to the actor’s performance. Makeup helps to create the character visually. I feel that I’ve done my job well when an actor can walk onto the set feeling like the embodiment of the character that he or he is portraying.

Q: Can you give a step by step explanation as to how the Black Swan look was created as well as the products that were used?

Margie: We applied a pale ivory foundation with a white cream highlight on the forehead and cheekbones. To create the swan eyes, we used M·A·C Chromaline in Black Black.  Using M·A·C Pigment in Silver combined with Mixing Medium, we applied feathery brushstrokes over the Black Swan’s eyes. The lips were lined with M·A·C Lip Pencil in Vino and topped with M·A·C lipstick in Dubonnet. We then lined the under eye with a thin line using M·A·C Chromaline in Red.

Q: The ballerinas’ performance makeup in the movie is especially dramatic and visually arresting.  What inspired the dark romantic makeup look?

Judy: The look was inspired by the story, and by the director, Darren Aronofsky I felt that he was looking for something dramatic and visually striking, so all of the intensity was focused in the eyes. Margie Durand realized that there were elements of our beautiful set design that should play a role in our makeup. Thus, the delicate silver branches that played across the swan’s faces came to be.  The ensemble swans and the Swan Queen are delicate and romantic with a soft pink lip color, whereas the Black Swan is dark, sharp, and, angular.

Q: Black Swan makeup tutorials have popped up all over the Internet.  Why do you think makeup fans are fascinated with this look, even before the film’s release?

Judy: What’s not to be fascinated with? The look is intense, alluring, and sexy with a bit of danger mixed in. Frankly, I’m flattered and pleased that there has been this much interest in the Black Swan makeup.

Q: How can the everyday woman translate the dramatic Black Swan makeup into an evening look?

Judy: There are a lot of aspects to this makeup that are standard elements for a classic beauty makeup. The highlights and contours along the cheekbones, nose, jaw line, and the pout of the mouth can all be adapted to a contemporary makeup. I also think one could incorporate the dramatic eyeliner – the angles and the intensity – into a very seductive, catlike smoky eye.

Margie: Think 1920’s vamp makeup: create the smoky Black Swan eyes with slender, silver eye liner applied under black wingtip liner and add thin wisps of silver liner over the eyelid, too. Rim the waterline with black liner and top it off with full, feathery false eyelashes. Apply a very matte foundation with contoured cheekbones and a hint of shimmery blush on apple of cheeks. Lips can be matte or glossy in dark eggplant, wine and even black colours!

Q: What other films have you worked on?

Margie: Sex and The City: The Movie, Cadillac Records, Across The Universe, Requiem for A Dream, I Shot Andy Warhol

Judy: The Unbelievable Truth, Ghost Dog, Requiem for a Dream, Frida, House of Sand and Fog, Broken Flowers, The Fountain, Blood Diamond, Across the Universe, Synecdoche New York, All Good Things, The Wrestler, Sex and The City: The Movie, Sex and The City 2, Dream House and The Tempest.

Q: Have you ever worked on a fashion show?  If so, what are the differences between the creation of a movie makeup and the look for a fashion show? Is the creative process similar or different?

Margie: The creation process is similar; the differences are huge. In film, the makeup needs to be recreated more than once, whereas in fashion on a runway, it is created for one day or one show. In film, there is continuity of passage of time from minutes to days to years, and the character’s look has to adjust for this, sometimes all on the same shooting day. In film, the makeup needs to enhance the actors’ performances and become part of their characters, contributing to beauty, injury, aging, etc.

Q: What is the one M·A·C product that you cannot go on set without? Why?

Margie: I use so many M·A·C products on every job, but the Blot Powders are a must for whatever seems to be going on with my makeup at any given moment!

Judy: That’s a really difficult question, but I guess I would have to say a Powerpoint Eye Pencil. I think I could make up anyone with just one Powerpoint Eye Pencil. Or at lease enhance their features.

A psychological thriller set in the world of New York City ballet, BLACK SWAN stars Natalie Portman as Nina, a featured dancer who finds herself locked in a web of competitive intrigue with a new rival at the company (Mila Kunis).  A Fox Searchlight Pictures release by visionary director Darren Aronofsky (THE WRESTLER), BLACK SWAN takes a thrilling and at times terrifying journey through the psyche of a young ballerina whose starring role as the duplicitous swan queen turns out to be a part for which she becomes frighteningly perfect.

BLACK SWAN will open on FRIDAY, DECEMBER 3rd, 2010 (platform release)

Rated: R; Running Time: 110 minutes

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