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Interview with Victoria Down, fifty shades of grey makeup department head (part 1)
Interview with Victoria Down, fifty shades of grey makeup department head (part 1)

I used MAKE UP FOR EVER every day on the Fifty Shades of Grey set. As a professional makeup artist, I try more than 100 products before I find the right one. I consistently go back to MAKE UP FOR EVER products because of the quality, range of colors, and superior blendability. It’s made with pros in mind so you can expect performance and quality for everyday wear as well.

Interview with Victoria Down, fifty shades of grey makeup department head (part 1)

Fifty Shades of Grey movie Makeup Department Head, Victoria Down, sits down with MAKE UP FOR EVER to share her on-set makeup secrets, insider tips and must-haves and her love of MAKE UP FOR EVER.

How did you get involved in this project?

Well, I actually knew the director, Sam Taylor Johnson. We just really liked each other immensely. And when she suddenly realized she was coming to Vancouver to film Fifty Shades of Grey, she asked if I would help design the makeup for the film. So I went in to design the film and I spent every minute on a lovely set.

What excited you about Fifty Shades of Grey?

It's such an anticipated story. We've all read the books and how do you make that into a movie? How do you cast the right people? How do you make it look right? It was kind of thrilling to be part of it because everybody was amped up, hyped up about actually making this into a film.

How did you create the look of the characters on set?

There were studios, producers, actors, involved and, of course, Sam. And there were differences of opinions. But what we finally got back to was what was in the book. The audience wants to know that those characters are what they imagined them to be, not some Hollywood version of them. So, Sam and I went back and looked at it and thought let’s do exactly that.

What was the overall focus of the makeup on set?   

As I've previously said, it was being as realistic as possible. Anastasia’s look transforms throughout the film, so I had to do it subtly in a carefully orchestrated and thought out manner.

How did you create Anastasia’s more natural/nude looks?

We wanted her to look fairly makeup free and that, of course, is something that is rather tricky. So I started with a very light foundation, which I mixed with a moisturizer, because it gives it more of a glow on camera and it thins it out so it doesn't look like she's wearing a lot of makeup. The most important part were both the cheeks and the lips. For the cheeks, I used the cream pinky, rosy colors because I feel they can be blended throughout the cheek and even the forehead, chin, and jawline so that it looks like blood coming from under the skin. It looks like some light blush and not paint - because we didn't want her painted. And she had only a touch of berry lip color with just a small amount of lip balm to give it shine.

Can you tell us how the makeup evolved when creating Anastasia’s more passionate/sultry looks?

So there was a large transformation in Anastasia's makeup look in the film. She had to be a woman suddenly. She became more manicured, her eyebrows were shaped differently, her eyes became a much heavier smokey kind of look and the lips were really pumped up - way deeper in the berry tones with a lot of sheen just in the center so when the light hit it you'd get a little glint in the bottom center of her lips. I contoured her face slightly differently too, made her cheeks stronger, and her jaw stronger. I gave her a sudden bout of maturity that made it very different from the beginning of the film. She was softer, rounder in the beginning with the taupe colors and the light berry lips and bit of mascara. And then, all of a sudden, she had eyebrows, she had strong eyes, which really worked with her eye tone, and more sculpted cheeks and a rich, deep berry lip. It really threw Anastasia into a whole different sphere.

How did these looks help tell her story?

Anastasia Steele transforms as a character and so the makeup had to go with it. She starts as an innocent girl, not interested in makeup or clothes and later becomes a manicured, sophisticated beauty. So the makeup transformed with her.

What was the hardest part of creating Anastasia’s character on set?

In creating a look, like a “no-makeup” makeup look for this film, I had to take in account how the camera was going to look at the face and what I was trying to accomplish. It was not the simplest thing to make her look young. I mean the actor herself is young, but to make her look innocent and sweet is probably much more difficult than to make her look glamorous, which she later becomes.

Did you have to transform Christian at all in the movie from a makeup perspective?

Well, in the beginning he was a very put-together, strong character and he himself gets a little discombobulated by Anastasia as the story goes on. I did not let much of his beard show through so that he looked structured and strong. As his relationship with Anastasia starts to develop, he becomes a little less secure and that's when I let a little beard growth come through and a little under-eye come through. He was not quite as perfect and it gave his character some room for transition. 

What would your PRO tip be for creating Anastasia's more innocent look?

What I would do for a youthful look is to give the skin a sort of radiance, a natural health. So I would take the HD foundation and mix it with a moisturizer because on camera you want to show a little underlying sheen and shine on the skin.

What would your PRO tip be for creating Anastasia's more sultry look.

My PRO tip for creating the more sultry look is to use a little more of the Smokey Mascara and create a smokey eye. Move away from the taupes and more into a little grayish, charcoal color to bring out the color of her eyes. You can also throw a little of a darker eye pencil on the inside of the eyes.