I was recently invited to participate in a makeup event with a brand that I have a deep crush on: Giorgio Armani Beauty. There is something about the Armani aesthetic that just speaks my name, from the sleekly minimalistic packaging to some of the most unique makeup innovations seen in the world of beauty, such as the Eyes to Kill Intense Eye Shadows, the Maestro Foundation (reviewed here), and now Rouge Ecstasy Lipsticks – the world’s first CC lip products.
As if I needed any more encouragement than this, upon learning that Reza Zaimeche, International Face Designer for Giorgio Armani Beauty, as well as the right-hand man of Linda Cantello (Creative Director for all Armani cosmetics) would be in attendance and that I would be interviewing him – well, let’s just say that some swooning may have taken place.
Meeting beauty icons can be somewhat intimidating, but Reza Zaimeche is the complete antithesis of a “diva”; refined, easy-going, light-hearted, and completely engaging are just a few ways to describe him. Colourful, outspoken and so very, very European, are others. And totally charming … this man simply oozes true Gallic charm.
While vacationing in Britannia as a young man, Reza chanced upon a gentleman of remarkable beauty and being naturally curious, he stopped to ask him about this unique attractiveness; that was the first time he heard about the world of makeup artistry, and was then given the name of a prestigious beauty school in Paris – which he immediately enrolled in upon his return. That was over 27 years ago, and to this day, he is still friends with the man he met that fateful day.
Having had previous experience as a runway model himself, it was a natural transition for him to enter the sometimes cutthroat world of professional makeup, but he has been fortunate to have worked with some of the industry’s finest, including Pat McGrath and now presently with Linda Cantello, having quickly risen through the ranks to become her second in command. Upon asking him what it’s like to work with Mr Armani, the answer was a single word: “demanding”, but Reza wouldn’t have it any other way, as the attention to detail and perfectionism required by this fashion powerhouse, brings out the best in everyone who works for him (case in point: picture 150 models ready to hit the runway, Mr. Armani goes backstage for a final inspection, decides the look was not working, all 150 models had to then be re-done … all with only 1 hour to go. THAT’s, how Mr. Armani rolls).
Reza’s approach to beauty is definitely of the “less is more” ideology, using a light hand with makeup and introducing subtle touches that truly bring out the best – and most natural – beauty, within us all. While he is undoubtedly an accomplished makeup master, he is always open to incorporating new ideas and techniques into his style, and Linda Cantello (whom he literally adores & is constantly in awe of her talent) is most certainly a genius when it comes to creation; take for example, her trick of rubbing a brown eyeliner in the palm of one’s hand & mixing that with one of the brand’s Fluid Sheers, and voilà: an instant customized contouring product. Genius, right? Not to mention a novel way of using Armani products that might already exist in your stash.
My customized Armani look began by a consultation; enlisting the help of Chanel Nolan – a makeup artist herself, who specializes in bridal looks as well as being a SA at the Armani counter, Hot Renfrew Montréal – she began by prepping my skin with the new Crema Nera Extrema range of skincare. She then proceeded to apply a light touch of Luminous Silk Foundation to most of my face, but not all areas, as per Reza’s instructions. The great man himself then stepped in to bring forth the look he envisioned for me – something completely out of my comfort zone, I might add, but I placed my face in his hands. Literally & figuratively.
A light wash of a silvery tone across my lids (diluted with yet another Fluid Sheer for even more transparency but one that still maintained staying power – another Linda Cantello trick of the trade), subtle touches of liner along the top lash line, a kiss of blush across my cheeks, swirls of bronzer across the planes of my face, and finished with mascara – along the upper lashes only. THAT was my scariest moment, and while the idea didn’t initially sit well with me, the more I looked, the more I liked it. Reza’s instincts were correct: I looked like me, or rather, me of about 10 years ago. He feels that in some cases, and depending on the overall makeup look, mascara on the lower lashes can actually age your face by the shadows they cast under your eyes. Damn, if he wasn’t right. The last & final touch, was his selection for me of Rouge Ecstasy Lipstick shade #304 Heat, a seemingly too-hot-to-handle coral/peach hue that had me squirming in some colour discomfort – I do tend to stick to my nudes, right? Well, he was correct … again. This particular shade, not only tied everything together, but added just the perfect touch of colour to my finished look, making me feel fresh, vibrant and yes, sexy.
My look for the event: black skinny jeans, plaid shirt, biker jacket & Jimmy Choo stiletto booties … AKA: roughed-up country!
For my mani, I kept things simple but still edgy, by stealing a recent runway look: matte nude nails
The larger than life posters of the event inside Holt Renfrew, Montréal – featuring Reza Zaimeche
Serene rows of Giorgio Armani Rouge Ecstasy Lipsticks … love!
All 36 Giorgio Armani Rouge Ecstasy Lipstick shades, accompanied by other key products from the brand
Another look at the makeup event table set-up
Giorgio Armani – Rouge Ecstasy event
Giorgio Armani – Rouge Ecstasy event – bare-faced and ready to receive my look
Giorgio Armani SA Chanel Nolan preps my skin with Giorgio Armani new Crema Nera Extrema
Giorgio Armani International Face Designer Reza Zaimeche assessing me for the look to be created – pure adoration on my face, lol!
Reza Zaimeche advising SA Chanel Nolan on what prep work he wanted her to do for me
Sans makeup & posing with Reza Zaimche – because we all need a ‘before’ shot
Reza Zaimeche applying his magic touch to my lids
Here he is applying Rouge Ecstasy #304 Heat – the shade that he personally chose for me
Giorgio Armani – Rouge Ecstasy event – holding my chosen shade, #304 Heat
A closer look at Giorgio Armani Rouge Ecstasy #304 Heat
Posing once more with Reza Zaimeche and showing the completed look
Being passionate about beauty is not something I consciously think about; it’s as much a part of me as breathing, and when I am fortunate enough to meet someone as talented in this field as Reza Zaimeche, it elevates the feelings I have for this craft to new heights. Having my makeup done by him – a special honour indeed, as he is generally found directing a team of artists, as opposed to working on any one individual – was the icing on this particular cake, but the real pleasure for me, came in simply picking his brains and chatting. Guess what? He’s genuine and approachable — and tons of fun! Thanks to his beauty insight, I now have an entirely new way of looking at how I will approach makeup as well … but in baby steps; I’m not yet ready to give up mascara on the lower lashes, lol!