The quickest, easiest, and most affordable way for a real woman to get a piece of the celebrity lifestyle is through beauty,” says Gwen Flamberg, beauty director at Us Weekly. And she should know—Flamberg spends her days poring over red-carpet images and discussing new trends with Hollywood’s most-trusted makeup artists and hairstylists, then translates them for the rest of us. As part of this month’s Us Weekly partnership, featuring Flamberg’s own product picks, we got the scoop on her insider tips.
What do you love most about your job?
That I am the first person a celebrity hair or makeup artist calls to reveal what trend they just created.
How is working in beauty different from fashion?
Fashion trends, as opposed to beauty trends, are meant to be aspirational. A gorgeous Marchesa dress is meant to convey a certain feeling, but most real women can’t go out and buy a $2500 dress. However with beauty, like with the Revlon Marchesa-patterned nail stickers, that trend becomes aspirational and inspirational because real women can test and wear that trend—beauty is something they can get their hands on.
How big is awards season for you?
I always say that the Oscars are my Super Bowl—I look forward to them all year long. It’s really important to get [red carpet] trends firsthand, like what products were used to give Jennifer Lawrence her smoky eye, so that my readers—who want to be just like Jennifer Lawrence—can actually get that exact look with the products that were used.
Best red-carpet story?
At the Golden Globes a few years ago, Angelina Jolie was her the table and when the camera panned to her, she was applying her lip gloss. I was able to figure out what that lip gloss was before anybody else—it was a Chantecaille lip gloss, and the shade was called Love. We reported on it, and sales of that lip gloss increased 2500% that week. It was one of those moments when the moons aligned. Not only did I do a huge service to my reader—because who doesn’t want lips like Angelina Jolie?—but the impact we had on that brand’s business is almost like a case study to me.
What celebs get it right on the red carpet?
I’m absolutely obsessed this season with Lupita Nyong’o. I think she’s flawless. She has such incredible, rich, even-toned skin. Her makeup artist Nick Barose tells me that nobody wears color like this girl can wear color. I just love that on every red carpet you see her on she’s wearing different, vibrant shades of makeup.
Do you have any unconventional favorites?
Emma Stone hasn’t been on the carpet this season yet, but I think she’s someone who always marches to the beat of her own drummer. She’ll wear something that’s really fashion-y just because she wants to and it may not necessarily be a “typical red carpet dress,” but she totally pulls it off and looks amazing. I don’t know whether what [Kerry Washington] wore at the SAGs was the most flattering, but I think that she wore it with confidence, and that’s the name of the game. If you can inspire your fans to love their bodies, no matter what state they’re in, and step out with confidence, I think that’s amazing.
How is the red carpet is different from everyday beauty?
It’s about primers, it’s about contouring; it’s about a lot more preparation and brushwork to make the look last all night. But I think cosmetically in terms of what the look actually looks like, I think it’s very in sync with what real girls are wearing, and I think that’s really cool.
Any red-carpet posing tips?
It’s really important to not face a camera head-on. You should put your body at a 45-degree angle and turn to face the camera and tilt your chin down, just a bit. It creates a better angle that’s going to be a little more slimming. Whether or not you have weight to lose, unfortunately the camera adds width. The whole idea of a red carpet is to look like yourself but a better, bumped-up version of yourself.
Are you sick of any poses?
Well, the whole duckface thing; that’s just sort of a little silly. Your goal should be to look like yourself, and duckface doesn’t look natural.
We at Birchbox think your celeb doppelganger is Amy Adams. Do you get that a lot?
I get that all the time, and this year especially I’ve heard it because Amy Adams’s look in American Hustle is the most doppelganger-y for me. I’ve heard a lot from old friends from high school and college because of the way I wore my hair in college. You know what? I’ll take it!
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