The first lady of beauty! Michelle Obama has had a number of stunning makeup looks — we were just swooning over her smoky eye with a frosted lip on Wednesday — but for her makeup artist, two will always stand out above the rest.
“I’ll never forget the 2016 state dinner, when the Obamas welcomed the former Italian prime minister and his wife,” makeup artist Carl Ray told Glamour in an interview published on January 13. “That glimmery Atelier Versace gown was a statement, so I came up with an eye look that was equally high drama and fun. I blended a shimmery shadow over a dark smoky eye. It looked incredible. Also, the 2012 Inauguration. I was touched to see Mrs. Obama looking so radiant, dancing with the president [Barack Obama]. We went to, like, 10 different balls and events that night. It was such an honor to be there with her, to be a part of history.” (For those who can’t recall, Obama wore a red, printed Jason Wu halter gown for the 2012 Inauguration, which Ray complemented with a cat eye, a shimmering lid and a glossy pout.)
Ray says that history, and the FLOTUS’ influence on young women in particular, is something that Obama, 52, always considers while contemplating her makeup for the day. “She’s always conscious of setting an example,” Ray said. “For Mrs. Obama, it’s about being polished in an authentic way. She always looks like herself. To exude the confidence she shows the world, she has to feel great in her own skin.”
The makeup artist also dished on their day-to-day process. “I consider context first — the dress, audience, setting, climate, time of day; what’s the culture of the country we’re visiting?” he explained. “I love taking beauty cues from the women around the world. During a trip to Cuba, I was inspired by the bright pop art colors, so I gave her a vivid coral lip. When she travels to India or Morocco, where women wear dark-rimmed eyes, I experiment with deeper eyeshadows. Mrs. Obama is a great collaborator.”
And yet, as much as he plays, Ray says the Let Girls Learn leader always comes back to one product: “A beautiful nude lip gloss. Peach, pink, nude-nude — she’s tried them all.”
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