Interview with Violette Serrat
By Cirilia Rose
The world of influencer-inspired beauty can feel overwhelming. Replicating multihued eyeshadow looks and mega-defined brows is not for the faint of heart. Enter Violette, a laid-back Parisian who creates dreamy YouTube tutorials that make metallic lids and ruby lips suddenly approachable. Her looks are lived in with a touch of transcendence—a flicker of glitter dabbed onto an inner corner of the eye or radically reserved foundation application. (Skip the nose to fake a natural look, she recommends.) The videos, shot in brunch spots and taxicabs, have a floaty, dreamlike quality, with poetic musings popping up on screen to reinforce her laissez-faire philosophy.
This artful approach to makeup recently earned her the title of Global Beauty Director at Estée Lauder, a role she chronicles faithfully on Instagram. Her chic feed serves as an ever-evolving mood board and peek into what goes into product development. Especially good: her "color moods," which ebb and flow with the seasons, taking form as bits of torn silk, snapshots of modern art and glowing neon in a diner. Her openness with inspiration serves as a reminder of the expressive power of maquillage. Violette just released her second capsule collection for the brand, full of rich, shimmer-laced powders and microfine glitters that are designed to be multiuse, plus luxe lip shades in three different textures. Follow her journey at @violette_fr, and pick up a few more tips below.
Your makeup studio and Instagram account remind me of an atelier. Are there any designers who inspire you in particular? Any standout runway looks from the last few fashion weeks?
All women really inspire me. I don't have one icon. New York is an incredible source of inspiration because there is so much diversity. I walk the street and love seeing looks the women here dare to try. I love to look at them and imagine a little story of how they decided to wear a particular look.
Holiday party season is upon us! How do you treat your skin before and after making the rounds?
I love the Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery PowerFoil Mask. Holiday parties and travel can take a toll on your skin, so I love using this mask after a long night or on the plane. I also use Advanced Night Repair Serum every night to help keep my skin healthy and glowy.
You have a background in art. Is there any technique you have translated from canvas or sketchbook to faces?
Pretty much everything, as it's my only training. The first technique I started using—and I keep using today—is highlighting. The first thing you learn is how to give dimension to a blank canvas by highlighting—this is where makeup highlighter techniques come from to give dimension to the face. I always use pigments that have a metallic effect to catch the light so it reflects off of the skin. Another technique I translated was creating my medium of painting from scratch, from pure pigments to create my own textures and colors. When I started in makeup, I had no money to buy products, so I bought cosmetic pigments to make my own. I've kept this habit and still have hundreds of pigments in my kit.
Do you have a favorite museum here in the States? At home in Paris?
In the U.S., it's the Met. In Paris, it's definitely the Louvre. This is where I studied new classicisms and the Italian Renaissance. You can always find incredible pieces, and it has my favorite sculpture, The Kiss.
Do you get distracted by makeup while watching movies or bingeing shows? Any recent standouts?
Recently I rewatched Memoirs of a Geisha, and I was so inspired by the gestures they use to do their own makeup. For them, getting ready is a ceremony in and of itself, which is exactly what I'm trying to tell women. Doing your makeup should be a ceremony to celebrate yourself. I felt very connected to this belief.
Americans are obsessed with "French-girl style." Are there any American habits you admire or adopt for yourself?
American women are super-open to try. They are not scared to use color or glitter or whatever. If it doesn't work, it's OK, and they're very humble about learning from somebody else and educating themselves.
Did you have a particular person in mind when designing your La Dangereuse collection? Who would you like to see wearing it?
I was inspired by powerful women for this collection. In French, we call it espiègle, which is my favorite word. It literally translates to playful, but it is more than that. Espiègle is a wild, independent, powerful, but fun, playful woman. The bold colors, metallic textures and palettes demand to be noticed and are befitting of this confident, fiercely independent woman.
Which formula or shade from the collection are you most excited to wear this winter and what will you pair it with?
The Blue Dahlia Eyeshadow Palette. The shades are perfect for winter when you're wearing dark colors most of the time. I'm not a fan of wearing black; I prefer blue. But this looks perfect with dark blues that almost look black and won't create a shock between my outfit and my makeup. You can wear the colors in the palette with white, different shades of blues and black.