Michela is Zooting

A beauty & lifestyle blog by creative Michela Wariebi

Month: February, 2019

Black Make Up Legends – Roxanna Floyd

When we speak of makeup legends we must speak of the life and legacy of Roxanna Floyd. During her time, this powerhouse made her mark touching a multitude of famous faces on the red carpet, in music videos, on film and had her work grace hundreds of magazine covers.  So perhaps by some name, she was a celebrity makeup artist, but undoubtedly, she was a favorite of the industry, with both clients and peers alike.

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Harriet Cole, former Editor in Chief of Ebony Magazine is quoted as saying,

 “She was a genius with a set of makeup brushes. And she appreciated brown skin so much that she learned how to blend colors perfectly to ensure that a woman of any and every skin tone would be flawless before the camera. Roxanna was a perfectionist.”

Endearingly known as the “chocolate diva” herself, she specialized in flawless and impeccable makeup artistry on women of color.  Floyd began her career in the 80’s and her impeccable artistry led to her being the go-to girl for Essence magazine for some time – executing the makeup for over 60 covers of the publication.  With her first cover featuring Halle Berry.

Beyond Essence, she amassed over 200 magazine covers overall including Cosmo, Glamour, Vanity Fair and InStyle.  Her mastery of brown skin also led to her being a favorite among top celebrities.  Floyd’s clients included Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, Janet Jackson Lauryn Hill, Halle Berry, Pam Grier, Angela Basset and Whitney Houston.

Clients Queen Latifah and Angela Basset where so fond of Floyd’s work that they brought her on as their personal artist for films like Beauty Shop, Waiting to Exhale and more, giving her 11 film credits in addition to her music video and print work.  That work on Angela Basset in Waiting to Exhale impressed Whitney Houston to the extent of bringing Floyd on as her personal artist for years, where she created some of Houston’s most iconic looks at the later part of her career.

Floyd’s expertise went beyond the face and allowed her to consult with brands on developing products to meet the needs of women of color.  She consulted with Avon, Mary Kay, and Proctor & Gamble.  She also worked as Creative Director for Fashion Fair Cosmetics and played an integral role in the development of the Queen Latifah Covergirl Queen Collection.

Over a 20+ year career Roxanna Floyd accomplished so much and I wonder why there is such a lack of documentation online to say as much. I know her time was before the information age, but perhaps it’s time to think of the deeper importance of being sure to credit all parties who are a part of our documentation of time through storytelling in film, fashion and beauty.

Sadly, Floyd died in her sleep at the age of 49.  She is survived by her family, and those who will always remember her significant contributions to this industry.

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Black Make Up Legends – A Series

Working as a makeup artist has progressively become a mainstream idea, but this career path has a lifespan that barely reaches 100 years of existence in the Western world. Icons like Max Factor and Way Bandy made innovations with makeup artistry that correlated with advancements in the areas of TV/film and fashion and this is how our industry as we know it truly began. Progressively more people joined the fold, adopting the title of makeup artist, the film industry expanded, fashion boomed and the world evolved.

Fast forward to present day and everybody and their mothers are all makeup artists, literally.  Social media has made makeup more tangible to the masses and although an excellent medium for highlighting talent, it has skewed the masses on who is “iconic” and who is “legendary.” The eyes of the public can change as quickly as the seasons, but the truth is that those who are iconic and those who are legendary will always be despite what the masses might say at the moment.  The forerunners of this industry who were hired and respected for their talents and techniques may be eclipsed by follower counts in some spaces, but they will always have a place in the hearts of minds of those who truly “know.”

This is a strange and hard truth about our industry. Many who have paved the way can quickly be forgotten; easily eclipsed by the newest on the block.  And I consider the role of some of the first black makeup artists to be one that is especially peculiar.  In 2019 black artists are still greatly underrepresented in many areas of the makeup industry and black skin is still grossly unrepresented in cosmetic product offerings, so imagine the solitude in the lack of diversity or the frustration in the lack of product options in the 70’s and 80’s.  To be an artist working in the highly coveted and notoriously exclusive spaces only achieved by a few or to work on people of color at those times and doing GOOD work speaks volumes of their skill and ability to “make do” to make up.

And so, in an effort to show due respect to the legendary black makeup artists who were the firsts in an industry that still regularly forgets or chooses to ignore black skin, I give you The Black Makeup Legend Series. Over the following weeks I will highlight over 10 black makeup artist who were among the first to establish successful careers as makeup artist.

Click HERE to read about our first legend, Joey Mills!

 

Black Makeup Legends – Joey Mills

Joey Mills by all accounts is the first black makeup artist with a career path focused in fashion and editorial. It’s important to make the distinction as to in which area a particular artist may have garnered their success, because it’s due time that we clarify to the masses that all makeup artists are not the same and in no way do we all do the same thing. I digress.

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Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, Mills made the move to NYC in 1975 to pursue a career in makeup.  In an effort to get noticed, he donated his time and skills to friends, agencies, models and any willing face doing as much makeup as he could.  And he did indeed get noticed.  Mills joined the team at NY’s popular Ciandre salon and his freelance career took off; going from sheer obscurity to top artist in the industry within a 1.5 year period!

With there being literally only a handful of artists working in fashion and editorial makeup during his time, Mills’ talent soon made him a highly requested artist.  Throughout his career he is rumored to have amassed a whopping 2,000 magazine covers including Vogue, British Vogue, Elle, Essence, Harper’s Bazaar, Harper’s Bazaar Italia, Glamour, Cosmo, Mademoiselle, Self and Seventeen. Absolutely unprecedented and without a doubt a record that has never been matched.

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Mills is also known for helping to create the “Calvin Klien look” that became a major inspiration to the public aesthetic for over 2 decades. He is the artist behind the iconic Calvin Klein ads featuring a young Brooke Shields with full brows, beautiful skin and natural lip.  He went on to be a go-to artist for Shields for over a decade of her career.

Other celebrities touched by his brushes included stars like Paulina Porizkova, Liza Minelli, Melba Moore, Diana Ross, Raquel Welch and many more.

All his technical expertise and knowledge was compiled into his collectible instructional makeup book, “New Classic Beauty: A Step-by-step  Guide to Naturally Glamourous Makeup. I recently added this to my library and after a quick read, I absolutely recommend you grab yourself a copy HERE.

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To consider the career and achievements of Joey Mills is to be inspired.  He was able to create a remarkable legacy during a time where black talent was barely allowed in the room.