To celebrate the launch of her beauty line, Rachel Roy invited a select few writers to her studio in midtown to introduce her Shadow Collection and talk (what else?) makeup. I was honored to be there and get an up-close look at the shadows firsthand. We snacked on macaroons and cake pops (that were are in colors that coordinate the shadows in her palette nonetheless) and indulged in hand massages, before Roy herself emerged.
My first thought when I saw the 37-year-old designer (who mind you, looks like she’s still fresh in her 20s) besides her obvious beauty is, “Man…Rachel Roy is tall!” She has to be at least 5’10 thought she was hiding some heels under her long wool slacks but no…all I saw peeking from under there were Chanel ballerina flats.
After I met her, she briskly walked across the studio and first stopped by to see how the makeup artist (who was there doing mini-makeovers) was doing. Then she took a seat at a table across another chair facing her. I thought she was gearing up for a presentation, but instead, she took a few sips of her wine before picking her palette up and to do her co-workers makeup using her new shadows.
The collection itself is impressive with a gorgeous mix of 10 dark and light tones with the most interesting names. The day shades include: Balance, Fire, Energy, Galaxy, and Dark Magic. Night shades consist of Twilight, Infinite, Evil Eye, Empyrean, and Celestial. While she sat playing makeup artist, she was game for our questions:
When did you start dabbling with makeup?
I did [makeup] on my brother…he was my first victim. I would style him, but to me the styling wasn’t complete unless it was a head to toe look. I would just experiment with how I wanted makeup to look on me, but I needed to see that on someone else. I grew up not being able to afford the things I saw in movies or magazines. As a child, you get that through dreaming and fantasizing but with makeup you can get it quickly. So I had fun with it and my dad, being Indian, was always worried. I heard him talking to my mom saying, “This is going to be her life.” He worried that my nails were red, and my mom would say, “Oh, I did that when I was young, too, and look at me now. Don’t worry about it. This is not going to be forever.” Little did they know.
All of my aunts on my dad’s side didn’t have much. But they had beautiful saris, plastic bangles up their arms and a kohl eye no matter what. Some of them went to clean because they were maids, but they were the most beautiful maids.
Why did you decide to branch into beauty?
Sometimes when something comes to you as easy as breathing, you don’t realize it’s a gift or a talent until much later in life, and you start to become very thankful. When I went to Africa to visit the orphanage I work with, it was in such a rural place — very stereotypical with kids running up to the car because they never see cars and little girls tugging at you. All they wanted to do is look in my purse. They wanted makeup. Little girls are exactly same as [my girls at] home. Little girls are little girls are little girls. That was a turning point for me becasue I realized that makeup and fashion, it makes people feel good about themselves. The older you get you can start to think it’s a very vain thing, it’s a very self-serving thing. Self-serving can be good if you’re taking care of yourself and doing the right things for yourself.
Whatever I had in my purse I showed them, what they looked like, and you can see them…they were so proud of themselves. It made them feel good, something as small as that. There’s definitely a good side to beauty and to feeling beautiful. As you get older, you realize if you don’t have the balance and you’re not doing every single step to get that, it’s never just never gonna be there. As a little girl, it’s just fun. The older I get the more I learn, I try to pass on all those tools on how to do makeup and those other tools to feeling beautiful.
What are your beauty must-haves?
For me, mascara and eyelash, eyelash eyelash. If that’s all I can do I feel good with an eyelash. It makes me feel younger and more awake. One of my favorites is Estée Lauder’s Turbo Lash. I love a blush from By Terry. It smells like roses. It’s this peachy shade that gives a glow and works on every skin color.
Do you do your own makeup?
Yes, all the time! For television, I’ll get someone to do my foundation because I can’t gauge how much I should put on and how it’ll look like under the lights in the studio. And I’m not good at putting lashes on. If I can master that…because it’s all about the proportion, how big do I want to take my eye, I want to take it out. I want it to be blended because it represents effortlessness it looks lived in and real. And no one can really get that except me so when I work with makeup artist, it can be offensive becasue I keep changing what they’re doing so I like doing it myself. It eliminates one stress in my lfie. I just enjoy it — it’s quick and it’s fun. I tried a green smoky eye for the CFDA one year and a friend of mine walked up to me and is like, “Why?” And I was like, “It’s pretty! And its new, that’s why!”
What’s your favorite way to wear a smoky eye?
I like to open my eye outwards as oppose to most people. It’s instantly sexy. You can dress very classic but still have this way about you that’s quite down to earth. And the messier, the better. I’m not one to hide my wrinkles, but I hide it with [smoky eye]. This is amazing for crow’s feet. When I get complemented on being 37 and maybe not looking quite 37, it’s definitely my Indian pigment and also that I cover my eyes with makeup. The smoky eye is the answer to everything! Also, Brigitte Bardot’s look was so effortless because her makeup was so lived-in and not too precise. It also allows me to wear the type of clothes that I love because if I like to wear something classic, the smokey eye always makes me look so relatable.
What’s the secret to your beautiful skin?
As much as I like makeup and have fun with the drama of it, I’m not good about taking it off. I’m not the girl that washes her face before going to bed if I’m tired. That’s because I have two girls and I have to make sure that they’re washing their face and brushing their teeth. I’ve recently started getting facials at the Plaza Hotel. The owners of [the Caudalie] spa owns wineries, I love to learn about wine so that’s how I learned about this place. They gave me an 80 minute facial. I asked them to concentrate on age — I though that was appropriate at 37. I’m not good at the maintenance part, but I appreciate it when it’s done. I like massages and [this facial was] like a massage on my face. I’m such a sucker for the story of it if something’s done with passion. I do wear a moisturizer, but a really light one because I have sensitive skin and I use Dove soap. So far, that’s it!
How did you choose the colors in your palette?
I literally went through [so many colors]. I wanted something for day and night. Thankfully there’s a palette that’s big enough for both. I tried ried them on with my staff and we literally put [it on our hands] and when something was close put on face. I wanted something that wasn’t a typically smoky eye. For me purples and navys work well with black [shadows] and for day, you know not everyone could go to the office with makeup this heavy, so I wanted browns and ambers. You still want fun and you still want color and something a little bit newer and fresh.
What colors are you wearing tonight on your eyes?
Tonight I personally have on Evil Eye [dark gray] and Celestial in the crease and I take a little bit of wet and put on top, so that gives my eye I think it makes it look a little wet, I like a moist look. I do like a a wet liner, the shadow.
What’s the secret to your gorgeous brows?
I get them threaded which is also an Indian tradition, and it’s right around here and super cheap. But even if it was expensive, I would do it because it’s the best thing for my face — to frame it and make myself look younger instantly. No one has been able to get it as well as Reshma (Perfect Shape Threading Salon). She makes it thick enough, while so many people make it so thin. I hate that. She has a place on 39th and also in a subway stop which is so random, but I go there every two weeks. In emergency situations, she comes to the office. She has the eye of an artist. She won’t talk to you. It’s in and out kind of like The Soup Nazi on “Seinfeld.” In Reshma’s chair, it’s 100 percent respect.
Do you relate more to your Dutch or Indian side?
Clearly, I’m an Indian girl. My [Dutch] mom had an Indian daughter! That said, I do spend more time with Dutch side because they help to raise me. I don’t have dad’s family here. What I get from my Dutch side is how I raise my children and how I am in my personal life. They are kind and sweet people — very genuine. I my business side from my father.
Growing up, my mom always told me not to wear makeup — I think they didn’t want us to grow up tpp fast and it’s also probably why I’m so obsessed with makeup now! You always want what you can’t have. Did you have any similar experience from your Indian side growing up, and does it affect your decision to get into designing or makeup at all?
There might be a connection subconsciously. But I think you are born with gifts you discover them as you grow. My dad is quite outgoing and charming. He’s a professor of sociology so he’s serious and focused. He was in the Indian Navy and he made costumes for himself. He would go into my mom’s trunk and sew up pants for himself. He was the life of the party. As much as he wanted me to be a doctor (he’s probably still waiting for me to be a doctor…waiting for my “real” job). He’s one of those people that has that flair for him as well. He’s very alpha though. [My parents] were hippies when they got together. They’re also the same height so they could wear each others pants. I think no matter who I was born to, I would love the same things. don’t know if I would bIe at the same place, he had two-three jobs and my mom had the same job for 40 years. So the work ethic came from the family definitely. My brother as well — he’s the film curator at the MoMA and you have to be very patient to get that type of job. That came from them. No matter what family I was born into, I think I would have the same loves. I just don’t know what I’d be doing with those loves.
It was so fun speaking with Roy, and I was dying to try the shadows myself. Everyone knows I’m not normally a shadow girl (I can use liners to death), but these shadows are truly stunning. They have everything you need for easy day and night makeup. The palette also comes with a blending and smudging brush so you can perfect your smoky eyes. I thought the brushes would be hard to use, but to my delight, they make applying the shadows around your lashline pretty easy.
Above: Barely here but perfect for the office. Balance on the lids, Energy and Fire in the crease, and a little bit of the brown Dark Magic on the lower lashline.
Below: A layer of Twilight before going over it with Infinite and Evil Eye.
I love that it simplifies by including shadows that are essentials but still come in gradients of ambers, golds, violets and other colors that are not totally typical. I usually don’t even pack shadows with me, but this palette most definitely was packed for my Argentina trip! The price point is amazing too — for 10 gorgeous shadows and two brushes, it’s $32. I’m telling you to run, don’t walk, to get yours too! It makes a perfect gift too…just TRY to find me a girl who wouldn’t love this…I can so quickly change her mind :).