From a young age, Gillian Okopny recognized her passion for makeup, starting with simple colour matching and coverage. This new found attraction gave Okopny a creative confidence boost and changed the way she carried herself. At that moment, Okopny knew she wanted to share her talents. With over 14 years of experience, Okopny has earned the coveted title as national lead makeup stylist for Nars Cosmetics. From Television to runway, Gillian has done it all. Her brushes have grazed the cheeks of political figures like Sophie Trudeau, and New York Fashion Week runway regulars like Joan Smalls at the Spring/Summer 2018 ultimate cool-girl show #WANGFEST. Okopny also brought her artistry to the runways of Phillip Lim, Christopher Kane, and Delpozo. Here, the artist talks makeup bag essentials, trends, and industry role models.
What was your first encounter with makeup?
“Since a very young age I had horrible skin, which really affected me. Knowing that I was way too young to start wearing makeup, my mother allowed me to cover my blemishes with foundation to go to school. This is what first allowed me to play with coverage and colour matching. I fell in love with makeup at that point! It changed the way I felt and carried myself. I knew that this was a feeling I wanted to share.”
Tell us about your experience at #WANGFEST during New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2018.
“The Alexander Wang show is always so fun to work on. The clothes, the models—everything about the show has the ultimate cool factor.”
What was it like working with Joan Smalls?
“Joan Smalls has the most killer cheekbones I’ve ever seen. It was a pleasure to work on such a beautiful face. Not to mention that she was a total sweetheart!”
What do you think will be the biggest beauty trend for Spring 2018?
“For SS ’18 we saw a lot of glitter and sparkle hit the runways. I think that we can take this trend from the runway to reality by just adding a hint to the eyes or cheeks.”
Can you list 3 products that are always in your makeup kit?
“My absolute favourite is the Nars Radiant Tinted Moisturizer. The shade range is incredible. It can be worn by anyone of any skin tone or age. It allows the skin to balance out any uneven tones, and provides a soft coverage and feel. I also can’t go anywhere without the Multi Action Toner. It’s a must-have for both my makeup kit and personal skincare regime. It hydrates and smooths the skin to allow for better product absorption. The best part is that it gently exfoliates. I’ll often use this backstage to exfoliate the modelss lips. Nars’ Radiant Creamy Concealer is another must-have. For me, it’s always about the complexion, and no face is complete without some concealer. Having skincare in your makeup is ideal, and this star product has great beneficial ingredients for the skin.”
Any tips for maintaining a warm glow throughout our long, dry winter months?
“Hydration is key for keeping the skin glowing throughout harsh winter conditions. I always say that you have to dress your skin for the season like you would your body—you have to add the heavier layer. You have to change your skincare like you do your wardrobe. Switching to a more nourishing, rich cream will keep you hydrated and glowing. Try Nars Luminous Moisture Cream for instant skin repair.”
Do you have a signature technique when applying makeup?
“François Nars believes your fingers are some of your best tools when it comes to makeup, and I completely agree. Warming the product up and applying it with fingers allows the product to melt into the skin and create a more skin-like finish.”
Which makeup artists do you look up to in the industry and why?
“My ultimate industry role model is Nars’ global artistry director, Uzo. I’ve had the privilege of working with Uzo on a few of the runway shows she has led for New York Fashion Week. She’s an outstanding artist who always inspires me with the looks that she creates for the runway, as well as her celebrity work. Not only is she amazingly talented, but she leads her team of artists with encouragement, grace, and tact.
Who is your beauty icon?
“If I had to choose just one, I would say Rihanna. She stands out at every event with the most flawless makeup.”
You travel quite often for work. What’s your favourite city in the world that really inspires you as a makeup artist?
“Hong Kong. I love working there, the environment is fast paced, and the city is filled with so many NARSissists! From the culture, food, scenery, and fashion, for me, it was love at first sight.”