‘Dune’ Makeup Artist Says He Didn’t Let Previous Versions Influence His Style

TORONTO – Canadian makeup artist and prosthetic designer Donald Mowat says he didn’t let previous film and TV adaptions of “Dune” impact his style choices in the latest version of the sci-fi epic, instead opting to make the characters his own.

The highly anticipated adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel from Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve had a world exclusive IMAX screening at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

Welcome to Artist Spotlight #66 series on my blog.

The sprawling interstellar story of warring families stars Timothee Chalamet as the protagonist antihero. Oscar Isaac plays his father, who oversees a dangerous desert planet called Arrakis, which contains the most valuable resource in the universe, a drug nicknamed “spice” that gives its users heightened powers and allows navigators to guide spaceships through the universe. This makes Arrakis the target of violent battles and political treachery.

Mowat, who is known for his work on “8 Mile,” “Skyfall,” “Blade Runner 2049” and “First Man,” told CTVNews.ca that he’s only worked on films that were either based on a true story, book or play, or are some form of a remake of an original version – making his job more difficult, he says.

“I think there’s an influence, and it also makes you [feel] like you’re not creating your own looks,” Mowat explained in an interview over Zoom.

Mowat said he decided not to watch the 1984 version of “Dune” so as not to have director David Lynch’s depiction of the characters influence how he would create them.

“I had the same challenge with ‘Blade Runner’ because there was this thing, this huge epic thing that people would compare it to inevitably, and I just thought, ‘I can’t get caught up in that’,” Mowat said

Mowat said he has since looked at clips of the original film and is “really glad” he didn’t beforehand.

Swapping out characteristics of red hair and wildly overgrown eyebrows, Mowat opted for subtle yet distinct features to recognize each planet’s people, specifically the people that live on the desert planet of Arrakis, known as the Fremen.

The Fremen’s costumes – including actor Zendaya’s – were heavily influenced by Bedouin tribes and Moroccan culture, and Mowat said he wanted their hair and makeup to match that aesthetic.

Fremen who use spice have distinctive blue eyes. Mowat also opted to make their makeup look natural, using nude hues to create a “very neutral yet kind of beautiful” look. Their hair is unkempt, but not so much to the point where they “look like savages,” he said, adding that there is an “attraction” about the Fremen.

They’re not uncivilized people,” he said. “They look like they live there, so they should look good because that’s where they belong. That’s where they live and where they thrive.”

Mowat says the makeup team also covered actors playing Fremen people in sand and dirt to match the desert environment.

Bald caps, eyebrow covers and small tattoos were also part of Mowat’s looks for the Harkonnen and Mentat people – features not seen in previous adaptations.

In addition, Mowat helped to create the prosthetics for the villainous Baron, played by Stellan Skarsgard. He says the fat suit and prosthetic makeup was a “huge elaborate build,” taking the team 16 weeks to conceptualize and create.

“My concept was a character that was based loosely using a gorilla – the size of a gorilla, the power, the viciousness and fierceness,” Mowat said. “Then some Marlon Brando in ‘Apocalypse Now” and ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’ with that very white skin and makeup.”

Mowat said the transformation required Skarsgard to spent six to eight hours at a time in the makeup chair.

With each character’s appearance being “meticulously” thought out, Mowat said the film is a testament to the artistry of those who work behind the scenes on major movies.

“For me, it celebrates filmmaking on the big screen – great costumes, great production design, music, every type of makeup imaginable – it just encompasses every aspect of cinema that we love so much,” he said.

CTV NEWS

The Real Story Behind The Cat-Eye Flick, The World’s Oldest Make-Up Trick

From Dior and Chromat to Chloé and Valentino, winged eyeliner dominated the SS21 shows, in bright colours, graphic lines, and geometric shapes. Today, the feline-inspired beauty go-to is highly individualistic and takes many forms — but where did it all start?

The cat-eye flick is undoubtedly one of the most powerful makeup statements of all time. The sultry, feline-inspired beauty go-to has been made a style signature by many, from the queens of ancient Egypt to its modern-day incarnations at the SS21 shows of Dior, Valentino, and Chloé.

From cultural traditions to famous interpretations worn by screen legends Sophia Loren, Ava Gardner and Elizabeth Taylor, Vogue charts the fascinating history of the iconic winged-eyeliner look.

The origins of the cat-eye flick

The cat-eye is one of the oldest makeup tricks in the world, dating back to ancient Egypt (from 3100 BC to 332 BC). The look was said to have been made popular by the likes of Nefertiti and later, Cleopatra, who used minerals such as copper ore and malachite to create either thick lines etched from the eye upwards to the hairline, or little flicks that stretched out parallel to the brow. The style was also popular among men, as exemplified by Pharaoh Seti I.

According to beauty historian and Makeup Museum co-founder Doreen Bloch, kohl and minerals were worn around the eyes for health reasons. “Kohl had immunological and antibacterial properties that supported eye health and minimised glare from the sun,” she tells Vogue. “So, ancient Egyptians, especially the ruling class, would use this cosmetic for health benefits, and lined their eyes accordingly.” Samples of makeup from ancient Egypt on display at the Louvre were found to contain nitric oxide, which is said to help revitalise the immune system.

As well as for health reasons, women wore a cat-eye as a way of warding off evil spirits. “Women used kohl liner for centuries as protection against the evil eye,” says Makeup Museum co-founder and celebrity makeup artist Rachel Goodwin. “But, like most things, the practice evolved into a way of signifying social status, eventually becoming the ultimate sign of beauty for both women and men of all ranks.”

Though the idea of the cat eye is believed to have its roots in ancient Egypt, there were also both subtle and extreme forms seen in men and women in ancient Asia and the Middle East, dating back to 3000 BC. In the latter, for example, crushed-up kohl (made from lead sulfide and other minerals mixed with water) was used around the eyes as a means of protection from the harsh desert climate.

A re-emergence in the ’20s

In the west, the story of the cat-eye as we know it began in the ’20s, with inimitable French entertainer Josephine Baker wearing the style during her intoxicating dance performances. Elsewhere, actresses Louise Brooks and Greta Nissen wore it for their red-carpet appearances, teamed with high-volume lashes and skinny brows.

“The discoveries of items from ancient Egypt [in the ’10s and ’20s], such as the bust of Queen Nefertiti, put styles and looks from a bygone era into the public consciousness,” explains Bloch. “Movies such as 1917’s Cleopatra,starring Theda Bara, showed the cat-eye worn by a modern-day superstar. As cosmetics became more acceptable for use by mainstream women, eyeliner became more prevalent.”

The look brought about a sense of theatre, mystery, and exoticism, which tied in with the rebellious flapper fashion of the time, as women were shedding their restrictive garments and cutting their hair short. During this period, soot and Vaseline were mixed together to create the eyeliner.

Recreated by mid-century icons

The cat-eye was the style du jour during the ’50s and ’60s, with women making it part of their everyday style. Less dramatic than that of the ’20s, pin-up icons such as Hedy Lamarr would wear subtle, skinny flicks of winged liner both on-screen and off.

The ’50s saw the mass production and commercialisation of makeup, and the invention of liquid eyeliner. “That innovation, plus movie makeup artists Max Factor, Ben Nye and the Westmores using the style on Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, and Audrey Hepburn, helped define a whole new era in beauty,” says Goodwin.

In Italy, some of the biggest movie stars of the ’60s, such as Sophia Loren, captivated audiences with their own version: swiped-on inky black, with heavy lashes and dark brown or blue shadow worn to the crease. “There’s a vintage ’50s advertisement from beauty brand Borghese, which speaks to Italian women about ‘a new eye look called ‘cat’s eye’,” explains Bloch.

Meanwhile, British model Twiggy gave the look a space-age twist with her graphic lines and feathered lower lashes. There was also Elizabeth Taylor, whose turn as Cleopatra in Hollywood’s 1963 epic only reinforced its overwhelming popularity. And, finally, model Pattie Boyd, who in 1965 wrote a beauty column for US magazine 16, on how to perfect the subtle cat-eye flick.

Sweeping through music and youth culture

The cat-eye took a turn in the ’70s and ’80s as youth culture exploded, with punks, goths, grunge lovers, and metal fans taking the look and making it their own. Blondie’s lead singer Debbie Harry wore a smudgy, messy cat-eye in the ’80s, and her fans followed suit, as did fellow rockstar Pat Benatar.

Style pioneers Grace Jones and David Bowie played with feline shapes and mixed new colours with bolder lashings of blush to amp it up even more. Bowie was known to use Indian kohl around his eyes, often lining the lashes and sweeping up slightly. “I always had a repulsive sort of need to be something more than human,” he once told Rolling Stone of his makeup application.

Elsewhere, Siouxsie Sioux experimented with sharp lines and graphic shapes, as did Robert Smith of The Cure. Egyptian actress Soad Hosny was also fond of a feline flick, as was China-born Singaporean star Gong Li, especially in the early days of her career in the ’80s and ’90s.

By the time the 2000s rolled around, the cat-eye was divided into two camps. Amy Winehouse took the classic look and blew up its proportions with a heavy-handed wing that extended past the eyebrow. Other celebs, such as Lauren Conrad on US reality TV show Laguna Beach, went for a much more subtle version.

“The early 2000s became a time in the world where there was suddenly a lot of nostalgia for the Golden Age of Hollywood,” says Goodwin. “Women such as Gwen Stefani and Dita Von Teese began paying homage to their beauty icons. The cat-eye was moved forward and reframed through a reverent and rebellious lens.”

Iterations on the runway and social media

Today, makeup artists such as Pat McGrath, Fatima Thomas, and Isamaya Ffrench are refining the shape for a modern generation. At Chloé spring/summer 2021, McGrath lined the models’ eyes in a smoky, sultry, elongated cat eye, which extended from the bottom waterline. Meanwhile, at Chromat, Thomas did duochrome neon in cobalt blue and highlighter green.

For Dior, Peter Philips executed a thick yet minimal look that wrapped around the entire eye. At Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood, Ffrench used exaggerated white-and-black pigment and drew ’80s-inspired winged lines towards the temples. Makeup artists are taking the humble cat-eye to new heights, making it both customisable and adaptable to the prevailing mood of whoever is wearing it.

On social media, beauty Instagrammers such as Juliana Horner create works of art based on the simple cat-eye, as does directional makeup artist Rowi Singh. A search for ‘cat-eye’ on Instagram gets 2.6m results, proof of its popularity, and you’ll see the classic shape covered in rhinestones, red and orange flames, cloud motifs, chunks of glitter, and even flower petals.

“The biggest evolution of the cat eye is that unlike past eras where it symbolised social status or conformity, it now symbolises the total opposite,” says Goodwin. “The cat-eye of today is much more versatile, and it moves with ease between classic beauty applications and subculture with absolutely no irony.”

VOGUE article

Audrey Hepburn’s Lipstick In “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”

My all-time favourite film is Breakfast at Tiffany’s. “Because nothing bad can ever happen at Tiffany’s…” right? I wholeheartedly agree!

The iconic lipstick that Audrey Hepburn (Holly) wears throughout the film has been on the minds of beauty lovers for decades! And luckily for us, it can still be found and purchased today.

The legendary shade comes from non-other but Revlon, the pioneer of makeup industry at the time. Their creme lipstick in the shade “Pink in the Afternoon” is the historic item being reapplied throughout the course of the film at least five times, enough for the audience to fall in love with it.

Have you wondered about her lipstick shade before? Are you inspired to run out and grab one for yourself? Do you want me to research into other famous lipstick shades? Let me know in the comments below!