Makeup artist & hair stylist Ekaterina Mignery is a new member of the international project TOP15WEDDING. She has created looks for fashion weeks, red carpets, and prestigious festivals in both Russia and Europe. Now Ekaterina lives and works in Paris, where she moved to from Moscow, where she was born. She talks about trends in the beauty industry, inspiration, burnout, how Parisian women see their appearance and makeup, as well as cruelty-free cosmetics and online tutorials for brides.
The beginning of a career and moving to Paris
I always wanted to work in the fashion and art industry. I was studying fashion design and art, but, at the age of 20, inspired by a famous Moscow makeup artist, I spontaneously decided to study makeup while studying at the Russian State Humanitarian University. I had no idea that this would become my profession, passion, and the reason for the main events in my life.
Before moving, I did little work with brides: I was building a career for a major cosmetics brand, from a makeup artist at a flagship store to a coach, responsible for the development of makeup artists in several regions of Russia. And, at the same time, I was working at fashion weeks, on the Sochi festival red carpet, and on magazine shoots. After moving to Paris, I had to start everything from scratch. I studied makeup in Paris for a year, since neither Russian diplomas nor work experience in an international corporation gives you legal permission to work here.
Initially, my goal was fashion, I dreamed of continuing work at shows, participating in fashion campaigns. But a few happy accidents and acquaintances have led me to the wedding industry, and now most of my work is related to it — and I consider it incredible luck. The location, nature, culture, cuisine, and wine make France a dream destination for people in love from all over the world, and I think that the number of weddings in France per season is simply impossible to count.
Inspiration and protection from burnout
In the summer I mostly work with brides, and in the winter I return to fashion projects, commercial lookbooks, creating content for brands and magazines, and photoshoots. A variety of projects and the ability to communicate with colleagues and clients of different nationalities serve as good protection from professional burnout. I'm inspired by the happiness and gratitude of the bride the same way as I’m inspired by a creative shoot with a talented team. My fear is living a monotonous life, doing the same work every day with the same people in the same place. Fortunately, the work of a freelance makeup artist in Paris offers an impressive variety.
Clients from different countries and the preferences of French women
Working with clients from different countries is incredibly interesting: preferences in makeup and perceptions of beauty, in general, are very different depending on the culture. Of course, there is also the individual taste and characteristics of each particular bride, but still, knowing which country the client is from helps a lot. One day, in my first year in Paris, I received an email request: a girl named Jessica wrote that she wanted a light and natural look for a romantic shoot in the sunrise light. I assumed that Jessica was from an English speaking country and took with me a case based on my idea of early morning natural makeup.
When we met, it turned out that Jessica was Puerto Rican, and her natural makeup should include shades from turquoise to purple on her eyes, with bright glitters. Only a variety of colored eyeliners, that I always have in my case for any emergency, could save me — if they weren't there, this meeting could have been a great failure. Since then, I have been trying to get more information about the client, if something is not clear from the name/mail/phone number, and I ask brides to show examples of the look they want.
A whole other passion for me is working with French women. They are distinguished by a natural style — often too natural in the opinion of Russian women. I do not like generalizations based on nationality or any other trait, since the personal preferences of a particular person sometimes differ from the ideas about the taste of an “average” French or Russian woman, but I sure notice some patterns. After several seasons of constant work with brides from French and Russian-speaking countries, I noticed that the description of what is required from me is very different — even through their words. For Russian women, the request is often associated with transformation: they want “bigger eyes”, “higher cheekbones” and “more sensual lips”. French women, first of all, want to "remain themselves", they ask "not to put hair up" and "the less, the better." In Russia, a visit to a makeup artist & hair stylist is a must, when you're getting ready for any important event, and in France, not every girl turns to a professional even for their wedding.
About beauty trends
I like the times in which we live, and fashion trends — more precisely, that they're completely mixed together, and at some point even absent. If not all, then a lot of things are "in" at the same time. Along with the general trend towards variety and self-expression, there is a tendency to look natural for several years. The most beautiful eyebrows are those that nature gave you. If they are wide and fluffy — great, you shouldn't pluck them and make them half their natural size: this won't make your eyes look more open, but the proportions of the face will simply be ruined. If your eyebrows are 1 mm wide, this is great too. There is no need to put makeup all over them, they will be visible even at a distance, just to point them out a little bit. We are moving away from the long-term habit of adjusting everyone to common standards. The world is coming to the conclusion that freckles, wrinkles, stretch marks, and thin lips are all right and beautiful too.
More technological and effective products with minimal texture appear on the market. Another general trend is directly related to common sense: more and more people care about the impact that product has on their health and nature. Fashion seems beautiful and harmless, but in terms of its negative impact on nature, it is in 2nd place after the oil industry. The beauty industry is also nowhere near as clean as it seems.
Our consumerism is ridiculous, and in 2020 it is difficult to imagine something less fashionable than a cosmetics brand that produces another "limited edition" peachy blush. More and more people are having an interest in this topic and choose ethical brands that are focused on sustainable rather than destructive development. It is important, who stands behind the things you buy and what values he or she has. Why are we so conscious about the things we eat but apply products from oil refining waste with the addition of artificial flavors on our largest organ — the skin?
For several years I have been choosing cosmetics that have clean ingredients and are not tested on animals. Only half of the products in my work case are from ethical brands: sometimes wedding makeup needs to last until the next morning. Every year, more and more cool, technological, and effective brands appear even for long-lasting wedding makeup: RMS beauty, Kjaer Weis, Westman Atelier, Ilia. They are gradually replacing the familiar but outdated brands in my case. This is how I care about myself, my clients, and nature — I am sure that these brands are the future of the beauty industry.
Pandemic and online education
The pandemic surprisingly has brought everything online and served as a huge stimulus for the development of digital technology. You can choose a wedding dress online, when measurements are taken from you in 3D — and soon it will no longer be fantastic. Magazine covers made without a face-to-face meeting are looking beautiful on many spring issues. For a long time, I could not overcome my skepticism, but in the end, I launched online make-up lessons and product reviews. Firstly I suggest this to my brides, who had canceled their celebrations or were unable to spend the day with a large team. It was an experimental format: we go through the bride's makeup bag in Zoom, apply the makeup that she chose, and then make a plan to buy the missing products to achieve the desired look.
I got great pleasure and satisfaction from the process, and the feedback from the clients was positive. And what about "you can just watch tutorials on YouTube"? Yes, you can, but the complaints of friends and clients “I tried to use eyeliner or do sculpting 100 times, but nothing works” cannot be counted. Hair tutorials are impossible to repeat since YouTube does not show a lot of preparatory work with hair that makes it so easy to wrap in a perfect bun. Even an online client receives a large number of individual recommendations on the use and selection of products, and the makeup bag review is very effective since I know the properties of all products by heart.
About the 2020 wedding season
The 2020 season turned out to be special. I have canceled all the big projects with foreign clients, all trips, but many Parisians who were planning their weddings for this season have kept their dates. Summer turned out to be 99% Parisian, it was new and interesting. The pandemic has not spared any country in the world, it has affected everyone's life. This is a serious test for our industry, and, as recent months have shown, a good filter for non-professional and inflexible players on the market. But for really strong professionals it is a great incentive: they can use this time of change as a growth point, master new formats and opportunities. I experienced the whole spectrum of emotions: from fear for my work and powerlessness because I can't see my family in Moscow, to delight and inspiration, when I saw what kind of ideas had been born in creative minds during this moment of crisis. For me, the pandemic became a very productive pause, when I could stop, think, and find new goals to my work.