In each decade, there are iconic beauty moments in film and fashion that go down in history. Celebrity makeup artist Nick Barose—whose client roster includes Lupita Nyong'o, Tracee Ellis Ross, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and more—often pulls his modern-day red carpet inspiration from old Hollywood starlets and supermodels from eras past. Recently, in a spurt of creativity, he decided to flex his makeup artistry skills and transform himself into iconic actresses and supermodels from the past seven decades, from Liza Minelli to Grace Jones.
“During quarantine, I was cleaning and rearranging my stuff and found old books, theater makeup, and so many movies that inspired me to be a makeup artist originally,” Barose tells Byrdie. “With some time on my hands, I decided it would be fun to revisit and recreate these looks from my favorite eras. I also have a fun wardrobe full of vintage clothes, accessories, and props I was planning to use for photoshoots one day, and this gave them new life. What I didn’t realize is this experiment forced me to use some of the techniques and tools I had forgotten.”
He describes how watching classic movies like Cabaret with Liza Minelli, Women with Joan Crawford, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Liz Taylor made him feel like he had been transported in time, studying the makeup and spurred to use the traditional techniques and tools of those decades. “I found makeup brushes given to me by my old boss Kevyn Aucoin in the '90s and used them to recreate looks like I did on friends like Veronica Webb and Marpessa, all while watching '90s Versace and Azzedine Alaia fashion shows and listening to George Michael's "Too Funky, Freedom!," he says. "This inspiration—as well as that of my childhood—brought seven looks that embody seven of the most dynamic eras.” Keep scrolling to see Barose’s mesmerizing looks and learn how he created them .
The inspiration: Liza Minnelli in Cabaret
The look: "This movie is from the '70s, but is about the '30s. I love this interpretation of the '30s look with the thin, round brows, cupid's bow lips, and downward-turned big round doe eyes. Normally I’d use spirit gum and theatre wax to cover my brows for a look like this, but because of quarantine I couldn’t get to the theatre shop, so this [combo] worked at home."
The inspiration: Joan Crawford
The look: "This was the epitome of '40s glamour. The lips got fuller and more overdrawn, the eyes got simpler with just liner and lashes, and brows got less round, more angular. The eye is pretty bare with shine on lids and elongated liquid liner. Plus, I used false lashes on outer corners to accentuate the elongated shape."
Blush: Westmore Double Feature Blush ($39)
Lip: Armani Beauty Lip Maestro Liquid Matte Lipstick in 416 ($38) and Armani Beauty Smooth Silk Lip Liner in 5 ($30)
Eyes: Lashify Gossamer in B10 and B12 ($20)
The inspiration: Elizabeth Taylor
The look: “As movies moved from black and white to color, makeup moved away from bold red lips because it became too severe. In the '50s, we started seeing softer lips and full, thick brows. It was the first iteration of the '90s supermodel makeup: they borrowed a lot from this era and the larger-than-life movie star makeup.The dark, sexy femme fatale eyes with dramatic eyeliner and layering of various black, pewter, and grey shades adds a dangerously seductive sex appeal to the eyes."
Eyes: Armani Beauty Eyes to Kill Eye Quattro Eyeshadow in 1-Notorious ($62) and Armani Beauty Smooth Silk Eye Pencil in 4 ($30)
Bronzer: TheBalm Bahama Mama Bronzer ($20)
The inspiration: Donyale Luna
The look: "The moon landing inspired everything, including space-age fashion and beauty. The '60s were the most experimental—it wasn’t about being pretty or sexy (although some of Hollywood's biggest sex symbols ruled this era)–it was about fun, playful, cool looks. Donyale Luna, the first Black supermodel and muse to Warhol and Dali, was a massive inspiration for the beauty industry.
“Bottom lashes are the 60’s beauty essential! The graphic black and white eyes are so over-the-top, with the intense black liner contrasting the white liner and then tons of false lashes on the bottom to give the eyes an extra exaggerated look, it was the epitome of the 60s style. '60s lips are very pale and almost lighter than your skin. Because the eyes are so dark and dramatic the light, erased-color lips work. I custom made this color by using a liquid concealer."
Eyes: Armani Beauty Eyes To Kill Lacquered Liquid Eyeliner in 1 ($36) and Lashify Gossamer in C12 ($20)
Lips: Urban Decay Nude Lip Pencil and Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Concealer in 4 ($38)
The inspiration: Studio 54
The look: “The disco era! So sexy and glamorous. Inspired by Jerry Hall’s iconic British Vogue cover with Norman Parkinson, the makeup from this era felt more playful; you could sweat in it dancing and have fun and be free.The extra shiny disco lip gloss is a fun, great way to wear dark lips because the shine softens the dark tone. The whole look is monochromatic with purple eyes, plum gloss, and orchid nails, which make the look colorful everywhere, but since it’s monochromatic, it won’t clash."
Eyes: Urban Decay 24/7 Eyeliner in Chaos ($22) in the waterline of eyes and Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Backfire for purple shadow
Blush: Armani Beauty Neo Nude A-Blush in 51 ($36)
Lip: Armani Beauty Ecstasy Mirror Lip Lacquer in 400 ($38)
Nails: Deborah Lippmann Nail Lacquer in Sexyback ($10)
The inspiration: Grace Jones
The look: “My teen idol growing up in Thailand was Grace Jones. In Asia at the time, dark skin had very little representation in magazines and advertising. When Jones and Iman hit the scene with angular brows and strong eyes, it gave all of us a chance to see beauty reflected in ourselves.The '80s makeup was hard and powerful. Lining your lips with black eyeliner to create shape was fierce; I watched Grace Jones in her documentary doing her own makeup and it’s like putting on war paint."
Eyes: Urban Decay Wired Palette – red shadow ($20)
Lips: Armani Beauty Smooth Silk Eye Pencil in 4 ($30) and Armani Beauty Lip Maestro Liquid Lipstick in 400 ($38)
Blush: Surratt Beauty Artistique Blush in Rougeur ($32)
The inspiration: The '90s supermodel
The look: “I started assisting Kevyn Aucoin backstage at fashion shows doing makeup for the supermodels I saw in magazines. I remember they’d all add their final 'supermodel touches': more contour, liner, brows and lots of lip liner. The defined deep crease on the eyes with the thin brows and liner gave the '90s supermodels sex-kitten feline eyes and made them look larger than life on the runway of designers that defined the '90s, from Versace to Azzedine Alaia."
Eyes: Armani Beauty Eyes To Kill Eye Quattro Eyeshadow in 2 Avant Premiere ($62)
Brow: Armani Beauty High Precision Brow Pencil in 1
Lips: Armani Beauty Lip Maestro Liquid Lipstick in 100 ($38)
Blush: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder ($48)