Monday, 25 April 2011

Addiction Creative Director Ayako

MSN Japan Beauty Style has just published the first part of an in-depth interview with Ayako, Creative Director of Addiction. It's a fascinating read so I thought I would translate some of it for the benefit of Addiction's non-Japanese fans (there are certainly several in the beauty blogging world!). My Japanese is far from perfect and so the translation is just a rough one.

Q: Why did you move to New York?

A: In 1988, I was selected to be the makeup artist for the Japanese team in Elite's Look of the Year model contest. A stylist that I worked with during that time invited me to visit New York and said that she would introduce me to various people. And I went. That was how I came to do a round of the agencies in New York.

Q: That was very proactive!

A: I could not speak English that well at that time but I had my portfolio from Japan. At that time, 須賀勇介 and Rumiko had already built a good reputation in New York for Japanese makeup artists, who were seen to be very meticulous in their work and punctual. An agency took an interest in me and after two months, I was informed that I had received a working visa. I decided to go for it, without any actual plan.

Q: How long have you been living in New York?

A: Since 1990, so about 21 years.

Q: That's long. It's been about 15 years since I first met you in New York. I was a beauty writer at that time and was impressed by your work at a photoshoot. It was a technique that I had never seen in Japan. You created a beautiful glowy base by using hardly any foundation. Like what's now called nude makeup that's better than bare skin. It made a big impression on me because at that time, it was still de rigueur in Japan to use a combination of liquid foundation and powder.

A: I'm happy to hear that. When I went to America, I also learnt many new things. In Japan, we are taught a certain set of rules that must be followed, such as applying a control colour, concealing freckles, applying mascara etc. The approach towards makeup was based on correcting one's flaws. But in New York, I came to understand that this was not necessarily the case.

Q: How did you come to work with Francois Nars?

A: That could be a long story (laughs). When I went to New York, I became immersed in foreign magazines that I had never read before. In those magazines, it was always Francois' work that drew my attention. I was inspired by his work and aspired to become like him.

Q: He's widely known for his makeup brand now, but at that time, he was already famous for his work at the fashion shows, in top magazines like Vogue and also for Madonna's Sex book. He was a makeup artist who made women look edgy but also very elegant and attractive.

A: Certainly. When he launched his makeup line, I wanted to see it so badly that I crashed the brand launch party at a club without an invitation (laughs). I saw all these slides of his work. I was so moved to be in a world that I loved. I thought I should meet him, or rather, he should meet me too! Hence, I worked hard to create a portfolio that he would like. When I started thinking about whether to return to Japan, I decided to take a gamble and contacted him to show him my portfolio. That was how I came to be part of his team.

Q: That's a nice story. There are many people in our generation who pursued their dreams in their 20s. After that, you became Nars' right hand person, working with many celebrities like Naomi Campbell and Hilary Swank?

A: The period when I was working with Francois was one in which every day was very enjoyable, regardless of whether we were working on the many fashion shows, shoots for fashion magazines or working with celebrities.

Q: I remember having a leisurely chat with you when I went to interview Nars for the inaugural issue of Vogue. I asked you if you wanted to have your own makeup line with your name. At that time, Rumiko had just broken into the Japanese market with RMK. You replied "Maybe someday but now is not that time yet". I thought that was cool.

A: Eh...I don't remember! (laughs) But I think that was indeed the case. At that time, I was still having too much fun and I thought that creating products in a relaxed manner was something for the future. That day came eventually!

Q: When was that?

A: Around 2007. The thought of creating makeup products really came suddenly one day. To be honest, the strongest push at that time came from Francois.

Q: Ah, that must be a good story!

A: We were in Bora Bora at that time. He asked me," Why don't you do it? It's best if you try it." I still remember that vividly even now. If he had not encouraged me, I might have continued to be in a dilemma.

Q: Were you like brother and sister?

A: Yes. I respected his vision and was satisfied with my work. But gradually, I wanted to create my own child, from the perspective of a woman and from my own vision. I thought that my vision could be useful to people who wanted to create their own distinctive, unique style. Hence, I wanted to create a makeup line that emphasised individuality.

Q: Do you mean creating a makeup line that is enjoyable and practical, something that could lift the spirits of women?

A: Yes. I discussed my idea with an art director that I had worked with previously and came up with a proposal.

Q: You are so proactive!

A: Hence, Addiction was not a brand that I was approached to do but rather, a brand that I conceptualised. I presented the proposal to a Kose executive, who happened to remember my work with Mariah Carey. At that time, I recommended Mariah Carey to use a lip colour that I thought was more suitable for her than the shade that she was originally supposed to use. Subsequently, the shade that I chose for her became a hot seller. The Kose executive was very supportive of my proposal and hence the collaboration with Kose was born.

Q: That's quite a story! You seem like a person who works hard to realise your dream, by following your instincts. Also, past encounters turn out to be more significant with time, to have a link with the future that you wanted to move towards.

A: That may be the case. Hence, I always think that individual encounters and incidents have their own meaning. I have many artist and musician friends in New York. Their works take physical form and shape. But the work of makeup artists is always changing. Fashion designers' works are also always evolving but they have their archives whereas the work of makeup artists is eventually washed away. Although my work was praised by friends, I wanted to create something that was more permanent. That was a major reason why I wanted to create makeup products. Like, I could give my mother a lipstick that I had created. I wanted to create something that would last in the world even when I'm not around.

As mentioned earlier, Addiction will debut a new Cheek Stick (2940yen) in 8 shades on 20 May in Japan.


. : * justine * : . said...

This interview is fantastic!! I find it so interesting that the 'nude look' started in the US for her and then migrated to Japan... I feel like it's almost the opposite note! Western brands focus on foundation + powder and Japanese brands focus on perfect skin... haha.

I am so excited for the cream blushes! I definitely want to pick up the bright colours!

Maya said...

Thanks for the translation, Iris! :) Really appreciate your effort.

I am a fan of Addiction. I had to stop myself from ordering more of Ayako's stuff just now! Eeeeps.

Shukumei said...

Thank you for translating this interview! I love Addiction makeup so it's great to learn more about Ayako. I wish Addiction were more widely available...

Anonymous said...

i would love to get my hands on one of these cheek sticks and their lip glosses.

Katina said...

Thank you for all the time and effort you spend informing and entertaining us !! :)

Ling said...

Thanks for your effort in translation and to share with your loyal readers here :) it's always insightful to uncover the life behind the inspiring creative and stylish talent. your story reminds me of Chizu saeki, she is a skincare guru and her concept is a belief in loving your skin and putting that self love into talking your skin to perform it's best; coupled with using lotion mask, serum and a moisturizer. mainly holistic approach. she ages so graciously. managed to find the english version for you. hope you like it too :)

Maya said...

Hey Iris, btw, I wanna know if the Azalea gloss you have is shimmery?

I have Rich Girl and Fairy, and am kinda disappointed to find that Rich Girl is a sheer, jelly red unlike the gorgeous peach-pink shimmery Fairy. :P

Did you manage the swatch the lipsticks the last time you were at the counter?

Haru said...

hi Maya,
I didn't swatch the lipsticks. Azalea is shimmery but not that intensely/brilliantly so. It's also somewhat translucent but does show up well on the lips.

cupcakes said...

Thank you iris for the translation. I've been following your blogs for a couple of months. I usually check your blog two to three times a week, and there's always a build up of excitement the new postings which you've done.
I really admire you for what you are doing. Well done and please keep it up!!