After a couple of seasons of highly sculpted, Instagram-ready cheekbones that could cut glass, letting one’s own skin enjoy a moment in the spotlight feels positively subversive. But celebrating the skin you’re in is integral to Estée Lauder spokesmodel Liu Wen’s Chinese New Year look, created by makeup artist Victor Henao, and shot by photographer, illustrator and street-style blogger Garance Doré. “Chinese New Year is a huge deal,” Wen explains. Though Fashion Week has kept her from celebrating the holiday with her family in China for the past few years, this February, she’ll head to her grandmother’s home for the festivities. “Everyone gathers early in the morning and chats—parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings,” she explains. “We make lunch together, usually dumplings. Then we play games and enjoy the fireworks,” she says. Wen’s Chinese zodiac sign is the dragon, the only animal in the lineup that doesn’t exist in real life. “It brings an element of fantasy to my life and I really appreciate how wonderful and amazing it is,” she says. “I’m lucky to travel so much and to meet so many people.”
Chinese New Year is a huge deal.
While Wen’s sign is of the illusory realm, Garance Doré’s western and eastern astrological signs are straightforward in theme. “I’m a Taurus in the western zodiac and a cat in the Chinese zodiac,” she says. True to her practicality, Doré’s best beauty advice is simply to put yourself in the best light you can. “I just turned 40, and at my age, a little bit of natural makeup helps, because I can get a bit washed out, especially in photos,” she explains. On this shoot, she worked with Wen to tell a visual, three-part story about the different stages of Chinese New Year makeup, culminating in a nighttime look. “People tend to be more daring when they go out on the town, especially in New York, where it’s more about being cool than being super ‘done,’” Doré notes.
Though being “done” is a veritable job requirement for Wen, she keeps her look low-key to give her skin a break when she’s not working. Her ideal regimen? Estée Lauder Nutritious skincare and lots of sunblock. “It doesn’t matter [whether or not] you’re going to a beach—protect your skin every day,” she advises. Wen also regularly applies extra night cream to combat jet lag and dehydrated skin. “When I arrive at my destination, I wear a face mask, make a cup of tea, and read a book or watch a movie,” she says.
I’m lucky to travel so much and to meet so many people.
To create Wen’s morning makeup look, Henao opted for concealer in lieu of powder. He started with a single layer of Double Wear Makeup To Go, then applied concealer around the nose area and on the forehead (where one would typically use powder). “I blended Perfectionist Concealer—using just the solid end—with an eyeshadow brush, which is small and fluffy, like a mini airbrush, to counteract any sheen,” he said. The rest of the look is minimal: Henao curled Wen’s lashes and skipped eyeliner and mascara, instead focusing on the brows, which he accentuated with Brow Now Brow Defining Pencil in Brunette. “I applied Bronze Goddess Powder Bronzer in Light on the cheek, very sheer, for a touch of contour,” he notes. A dab of Double Wear Brush-on Glow BB Highlighter on the brow bone, a dusting of Lover’s Blush, and Lip Conditioner completed the look.
For the second look—a more polished daytime face—Henao built on the same foundation and concealer base, and focused on defining Wen’s eyes. “I used colour #5 from the Pure Color Envy Defiant Nude Eyeshadow Palette on the lid and diffused it up to the crease,” he explains. “Then I used the Little Black Liner to give her a little bit of a kitten eye, i.e., a slightly extended cat-eye.” He finished this off with a coat of Sumptuous Knockout Mascara.
Finally, for Wen’s Chinese New Year evening-out moment, Henao layered on more Bronze Goddess Bronzer to sculpt her cheeks. He then turned to her lips, first defining them with Spice Lip Liner, before layering Pure Color Envy Lipstick in Envious on top. Outfitted with a red lip, a hue the Chinese believe symbolises good luck and wards off evil spirits, Wen was ready to usher in the Year of the Red Monkey in style.