Clueless is one of our favourite movies–it’s an iconic 90’s teen movie featuring three fashionable girls living in Beverly Hills. The girls look fresh, clean and most of all–their age–which is not so common nowadays in film/TV.
The hilarious movie is essentially a time capsule of the 90’s–matte lips, bright lips, baggy pants, head-to-toe matching ensembles, etc., with Coolio, Radiohead, Gwen Stefani and The Cranberries as the soundtrack.
We are seeing a lot of 90’s trends reoccurring now–the matte lip, grungey plaid, the hair swoosh–the list goes on. Wildfox even created a fashion campaign around the classic.
We asked Alan Friedman, the award-winning makeup artist from Clueless, how he achieved each girls’ signature look.
What kind of prep did you do on the girls to make them camera ready?
Each got whatever skin care their own complexions needed before their individual make-ups applied for their character and for each specific look for each scene + any ‘character’ add-on’s, i.e., tattoos, piercings or face and body jewelry. Each actress (especially 18 to 20 year olds) is usually given an hour & a half to 2 hours to get ready; make-up, hair and wardrobe unless there is something out-of-ordinary involved in their preparation, i.e. cuts, scars, tattoos, etc…
How did you come up with their looks? What inspired you? (i.e. clothes, etc)
Some of the looks were specific descriptions from the script; some from Amy herself; some input from the actors and much of the time, since there was very little pre-time, many of the make-up looks for any given scene were established for a sequence the first time I saw the wardrobe colors and styles. Elisa Donovan (Amber) was actually one of the most fun to work on–each of her looks were created as she arrived in the make-up trailer for the first time in a new costume. She was always ‘game’ for anything as long as we didn’t alter her favorite lip color which was the same throughout the film; MAC’s Bardot, matte. All of her outrageous eye colors with from a KRYLON AquaColor palette.
The girls always looked so natural, fresh-faced and beautiful. What are the key products for creating these looks?
While some make-up people are ‘product whores’ or insist on a specific line of products, all the actors and actresses and actors in Clueless wore product from whatever product line that was appropriate to their skin type, coloring and character.
After moisturizing and sunscreen for shooting outdoors, usually, the make-up began with a sheer liquid base
(Bobbie Brown, Clinique, Chanel, Iman, Visiora or Revlon)a shade or two darker than their natural tone applied very thinly. This choice let us tone, shade and color correct the skin without having the actors look ‘made-up.’ If further coverage or color correction was needed, then we relied on some of the more ‘professional’ make-up lines, ( MAC, Make-Up Forever, Joe Blasco, Max Factor or RCMA and lots of natural and ‘party color’ MAC matte lipsticks–it was the ‘hey-day’ of matte lipsticks–matte lips were the 90’s as was Hard Candy nail colors–the first of the party-color nail color lines).
All make-up is basically the same–a vehicle (water, oil or wax) and pigment. The quantity of pigment or fillers a product has will determine the overall coverage a product will provide. Most consumer product contains under 20% pigment so that anyone can achieve favorable results from a product without much experience. Professional make-up usually contains upwards of 60% + pigment enabling a make-up artist to actually correct or alter coloration but without some instruction, a lay-person will usually be unable to achieve a satisfying result)
As always, throughout a long shooting day, we are touching-up constantly, usually between set-ups right before a scene or close-up. Besides refreshing the overall make-up; a clean-up under the eyes; fresh lip-color and a touch of ‘no-color’ power or Anti-Shine.
Paramount Studios had wanted to market a line of Clueless cosmetics and were very eager to know what cosmetics were used and they were very disappointed to hear that everyone wore something different!
How did you create their perfectly smooth and flawless skin?
Besides the use of creme color correctors before a foundation make-up application, much of the illusion of a flawless complexion has to do almost solely in its application and the use of specific tools. Until we go to 3D HD cameras – our current cameras have only one eye–no depth-perception–so if we can create what appears to be a consistently smooth reflective surface to the skin, the camera will believe the surface of what it sees to be smooth.
I have never used a foundation brush–just smears the make-up and is almost impossible to sanitize–fingers are worse for contamination. For sanitation and to help create the illusion of a smooth skin, we use small pored white synthetic foam sponges, cut into wedges with rounded edges. After removing a small amount of foundation (liquids from bottles; creams from their containers – to avoid any cross contamination between individuals and products) with a clean spatula and placing it on a sanitized ceramic tile, metal or disposable waxed paper palette, we apply the make-up to the face and ultimately use a stippling motion and the small pores of the sponge to impart a smooth final surface before a final powdering after all the foundation work is completed. Any re-touches throughout the day are accomplished using this same type of clean sponge and the stippling technique.
If we find someone to have a really bad or uneven complexion, one can also use an airbrush to apply various foundation choices. We have been using airbrushes at the studios for years; for character make-up effects, body make-up and for creating body make-up shading; to create a ‘slimming’ illusion or a ‘six-pack’. Airbrushes have been around forever and every few years they have a resurgence (anything old can be new again) and we are going through one of those now. Besides being used for ‘spray tans’ the airbrush is kind-of a gimmick–but I does have a real application for creating a smooth reflective finish for an actress with a bad complexion.
Dionne’s makeup and especially eyeshadow really accentuate her eyes. Any tips for creating beautiful eyes on a darker skin tone?
With Caucasian skin, there are only 2 choices X 3–that is, Olive or Pink Tone–light, medium or dark. With African American, Latin or Indian dark skin tones there are a myriad of skin tone combinations, i.e. light, medium and dark–warm, olive, dark live , dark blue and purple undertones–we worked with Stacey’s skin tone, her undertones and her beautiful Hazel/Green eye color and chose eye and lip colors (greens, lavenders, purples–most of them by MAC) to go with her own coloration and in addition, took into account wardrobe colors and their changes. For the party-type looks, we added shine, glitter or opalescence.
Dionne/Stacey’s make-up styles were created to meld with her own skin tones and her wardrobe colors; scene by scene. Once noted and sketched-out, Stacy’s make-up was applied by a make-up artist who worked with me on the film doing various other characters make-ups as required each day. While I did create her make-up look, it’s not always possible to personally apply an actor make-up each and everyday due to scheduling choices and conflicts (and Alicia and Stacey were usually in most of their scenes together) so for the tight shooting schedule with which we were working, required an additional make-up person for the run of the shoot. Many times that means someone in the make-up trailer applying make-up while the other is on set–supervising and re-touching.
Can you tell us how to create Cher’s signature face? (perfect skin, flushed cheeks and naturally lined eyes)?
Alicia’s make-up was a constant throughout the film with some subtle changes subject to scene subject choices – that is; it was basically the same with subtle changes for an everyday look; party face or wardrobe specific change. The signature look though, was a Chanel Base, with basic ‘professional’ line changes–under eye correction; and basic crease shadow; upper and lower eye definition, creme cheek color, lip color and spot color correction ( Alicia did not have perfect skin–some of the issues coming from wearing make-up 15 hours a day and not removing it properly)
I think we all wish we looked as great as Cher and her friends at high school: What are your top makeup tips for teens?
KEEP YOUR SKIN CLEAN! All the make-up in the world cannot cover up a bad complexion with make-up! If a teen has a real problem – see a dermatologist – don’t look to the cosmetic counter for an answer. Cleaning, disinfecting, REMOVING make-up at the end of a day will have an enormously positive effect on ones skin and complexion. Covering it won’t fix it!
The 90s are back: What are your tips for incorporating 90’s trends without looking dated?
Not so sure that the 90’s are back as much as it’s not the 80’s or even the 70’s–the 90’s were almost a relaxing of the 70’s & 80’s make-up-wise. Now it’s sort-of anything goes make-up-wise; natural; colorful and shiny and glossy –it always seems to be the hair-thing that changes; big; small –long, short; curly,straight. That’s what I see when I look at style changes from the not so long ago…