Make-up guru Troy Jensen on helping celebrities shine
Troy Jensen is the guy the world’s biggest celebrities call on to make them look flawless on Oscar night – and this week he is in Dubai to share a few stories about his long career and a few tips on how to look your best for any occasion.
Jensen has spent 30 years painting the faces of some of Hollywood’s most beautiful women, from film stars such as Salma Hayek, Ashley Judd and Meg Ryan, to reality-TV stars and models Kim Kardashian West, Nicole Scherzinger and Paris Hilton.
Last summer, when Mariah Carey went on holiday with her 5-year-old twins and then-fiancé James Packer on her 192-foot superyacht, Jensen was asked to tag along – as the singer was being filmed for her reality-TV show, Mariah’s World.
“I spent most of the summer with Mariah Carey on her yacht,” he says. “It was the second family holiday I’ve joined her on. I had to do her glam day-to-day look – and I also shot pictures of her ... that was really cool.”
Farah Fawcett discovered Jensen when he was a 15-year-old working as a sketch artist on Hollywood Boulevard. The Charlie’s Angels star saw his artistic potential and invited him to do her make-up – and his client base grew.
“Farah remained a very close friend until she died [in 2009],” says Jensen.
These days, he adds, celebrities tend to call on him when they have a premiere, photo shoot or a red-carpet event. But not all of his looks have been well received. In 2002, he created Goth-style make-up for Gwyneth Paltrow to match her grey Alexander McQueen dress and plaited hair.
“That was the good ol’ red-carpet days, before everyone had ombré barrel curls. We got a lot of flak for this look,” he says.
Jensen was also involved in styling one of the most memorable fashion moments in Oscar history. Singer and actress Björk’s swan dress, created by Macedonian designer Marjan Pejoski in 2001, was a full-body stocking covered with a model of a giant swan, its neck wrapped around hers. She further raised eyebrows by pretending to lay an egg on the red carpet.
Jensen says that when he met the Icelandic singer a few days before the big day, she pulled out two big boxes.
“In the first was this gigantic black-swan dress, and in the other was a white-swan dress,” he says. “I told her: ‘Well, if you’re going to wear a swan, then you should definitely wear the white swan’.”
The singer wanted her make-up to be highly avant-garde.
“I said because she was performing [she was nominated for Best Song, for I’ve Seen It All from the film Dancer in the Dark], we should keep the make-up very classic,” says Jensen.
“So I did a very simple wing-tipped eye, beautiful skin and gorgeous red lips and she looked beautiful. But we were both criticised, because the overall look was just so outrageous.”
Jensen works with beautiful women every day, but says his favourites are the ones who display inner beauty – such as actress Halle Berry.
“I first met Halle in the early 1990s after I lost two close friends to Aids,” he says.
“I was so heart-broken and devastated. Halle was so incredibly compassionate and understanding. Her kindness helped me get through a very tough time in my life.”
Others he rates as some of the best to work with include Jennifer Lopez – “a pleasure” – and Rachel McAdams, who was “so sweet” when he did her Oscars make-up.
“If they’re staying at a hotel, celebrities will normally call room service for everyone,” he says. “But she also had a little spread that she made for us. It was really cool – she was like a little hostess.”
It’s not only women Jensen works with. Matthew McConaughey, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Hayden Christensen have also been his clients.
While we all know that beauty trends can be fleeting, Jenson says some seem to be becoming more permanent favourites.
“Usually you see shimmer and sparkle around the holidays,” he says. “But if you see new collections, like Pat McGrath’s, they’re very sparkly, with a lot of lip colours with frost and shimmer in them, and sparkly highlighters for the cheeks and body, too.”
Jensen’s signature look, the Troy Jensen Smokey Flair, is a combination of a wing-tipped eye and a smokey eye.
“I do it by layering wet shadows from warm brown to black and I blend it really well,” he explains
He is not a fan, however, of the trend for extreme make-up.
“Eyebrows, contouring, lashes – there are a lot of over-the-top trends that are very popular right now,” he says. “My philosophy is I don’t want someone to look at my client and say: ‘Wow, I love her make-up’. I want them to look and say: ‘Wow, she looks beautiful’.”
While in Dubai, Jensen will host a masterclass to share some of his secrets. “It’s my goal to create a space that invites people into my world,” he says.
• Be a Muse, a Night with Troy Jensen, is currently being rescheduled. The masterclass was originally scheduled at the St Regis Dubaitomorrow at 7.30pm. Tickets from Dh2,500, including gift bag, at www.dubai.platinumlist.net