Master Stroke

Words Miran­da Wilkin­son

James Kaliar­dos is a cre­ative mav­er­ick – he is a make-up mae­stro who has worked on the faces of every­one from Madon­na to Miley Cyrus, shot with all the greats from Ave­don to Testi­no via Lind­bergh; he is a mag­a­zine mogul, co-found­ing Vision­aire and a direc­tor, writer and actor.  He launched his own col­lec­tion for MAC and con­sult­ed for L’Oréal for sev­er­al years as their inter­na­tion­al make-up artist, where I was lucky enough to work with him and meet our edi­tor Natasha Lakic who was assist­ing him.  More than a decade on, when I was asked to write the beau­ty pages for OVERDUE I knew he had to be my first inter­view, who could be a more per­fect sub­ject than some­one who under­stands beau­ty and pub­lish­ing.  

Pla­men Petkov for VISIONAIRE

“I try to chal­lenge my per­cep­tion of beau­ty dai­ly…”

“I’m always look­ing to bring out the best of what a
woman wants from her beau­ty…”

Daniel Clavero for Buf­fa­lo Zine
Irv­ing Penn

How do you think the beau­ty aes­thet­ic has evolved dur­ing your career? 

When I start­ed in the 90s either I had edi­tors who would flip out if they could detect any make up on the mod­el, or I’d be encour­aged to do some­thing more abstract and arty. Glam was seen as quite tacky and unfash­ion­able on the run­way and for mag­a­zines. There was a big divide between Hol­ly­wood and the fash­ion indus­try. Today there is still a divide between the type of beau­ty peo­ple obsess over on Insta­gram and how fash­ion sees beau­ty. It’s def­i­nite­ly more of an open play­ing field, and the abil­i­ty to pro­mote one’s own pho­tos and work has made stars out of peo­ple that would have ear­li­er nev­er been seen. 

How do you define beau­ty? 

First­ly it tran­scends skin colour and types, I try to chal­lenge my per­cep­tion of beau­ty dai­ly, my con­nec­tion to the arts helps open up my imag­i­na­tion so I don’t get stuck in believ­ing only one type of beau­ty is the right kind of beau­ty. Beau­ty is a mask that we wear, but it can also reveal some­thing hid­den inside of us. Beau­ty is that touch of mag­ic and it can also be a shield against the out­side world.

Irv­ing Penn

What are your go to/­must-have prod­ucts? 

Nars Drag­on Girl red pen­cil, MAC pearl cream high­lighter, Clé De Peau pressed pow­der, Nars radi­ant creamy con­ceal­er, Japan­ese sourced super thin black liq­uid lin­ers. 

What is or what are your stand­out career moment(s)? 

Talk­ing pol­i­tics while doing Hillary Clinton’s make­up. Play­ing a part encour­ag­ing design­ers and pho­tog­ra­phers to use all kinds of diverse mod­els. Work­ing on Spi­der­Man with Marisa Tomei, Madon­na teach­ing me yoga. Shoot­ing for 60 hours with Gaga on her music video, laugh­ing with Miley and col­lab­o­rat­ing on her per­fect make­up approach, watch­ing Irv­ing Penn dis­cov­er a pho­to­graph as he shot it. Edit­ing Cindy Craw­ford and Stephanie Sey­mour pho­tos with Richard Ave­don. Get­ting fed an oys­ter out of Hel­mut Newton’s hand in Monte Car­lo shoot­ing for Vogue. Work­ing with Fran­cois Nars as he pho­tographed his cam­paigns. Steven Meisel’s encour­age­ment. Launch­ing my MAC cos­met­ics line at the Acrop­o­lis in Athens. Being kissed by Michelle Oba­ma in The White House.

Mario Testi­no for VOGUE Japan

What defines your per­son­al make­up artistry? 

I’m always look­ing to bring out the best of what a woman wants from her beau­ty based on her sit­u­a­tion, her mood, how con­fi­dent she feels, what her desires are. I like a dia­logue between us, I’m not into forc­ing a women to look a cer­tain way. I love the way women look with­out make­up so every step to me is a well-con­sid­ered choice, an act with thought. I try to get a look down to its essen­tial prod­ucts and place­ments. I work quite intu­itive­ly, and I don’t like to plan every­thing but I see in my mind’s eye where I want to go. Often when I see online tuto­ri­als I write a com­ment ask­ing “Why so many steps?”

What is next for JK?  

Hope­ful­ly one night with 8 hours of sleep! 

Read the full inter­view in our debut issue, avail­able here.