AN INTERVIEW WITH MICHELE AIKIN – MAKE UP ARTIST & MODEL
The Lyons Gallery flourishes, literally and it’s a one of Paddington’s most Instagram worthy spots. Its spirit and ambiance ravish. The royal throne awaits for Michele, while I gaze onto Twiggy’s eyes as they became the emblem of an era in fashion and beauty. I am here to meet the embodiment of femininity Michele Aikin is one of the Australian film industry leading makeup artists. She has a career spanning over 25 years, working with some of the world’s most recognized directors. Her skills have developed over the years to make her one of the most respected makeup artists in the industry. We talk about maturity as for many this means that we do not have to fit in any frame. When and how we make the decisions about changes, is it worth looking at people who warn us against mistakes even though we believe this is the only way to progress.
Y: Can you describe your `gallery look` Michele?
I would describe my “ gallery look” as classic with a twist . I like to wear fashion my way. I don’t really pay attention to what others think .
Both, my jacket and silk shirt are Paul Smith. I love the way he plays with colors on the most classic designs ie. Orange cuffs on a teal shirt.
Indeed, cuffs look edgy.
And the extra WOW factor Murano Grey python clutch, alluring ‘touch me texture’.
Fashion should be timeless and ageless. Sometimes the style gets better with age and sometimes this is the confidence that places girls and women in the same room.
Y: Is maturity the same as adulthood?
I don’t think so. To me adulthood just happens but maturity is learnt through life experiences and making mistakes. Just because you are an adult doesn’t mean you are mature 🙂
Don’t you think some young girl regardless of a lack of life experience embody pure elegance because they were inherited with the aesthetics and sometimes you can’t just learn the sense of style no matter in what age?
The same relates to artistic sensibility in my opinion.
Yes, some people are just born into style and exude it effortlessly. Doesn’t matter what they wear, they wear it well. But I think everyone can learn style, develop wits and raise the sensibility.
Y: Did you always had the courage to turn into your own preferences? What is your advice for being inspired not repressed by trends?
I remember when you clearly spoke about your expectations customizing your bag. There was no doubt, you knew what you wanted. You described the touch, the smell, the texture, how these make you feel, and then we moved to colors.
I have always dressed the way I wanted to, sometimes dictated by fashion but usually by how I wanted to interpret that fashion. Clothes have always been my passion since I was very young. I used to make my own clothes when I was at high school. I made my own school uniform and designed it tight like a wiggle dress and down to my knees when all the girls had it loose and baggy and just covering their underwear! I never really cared what others thought, in fact I loved being different.
My advice to others is to wear what makes you feel good and confident. You usually know your own body and what looks good on you. And don’t be afraid to be sexy!…. in a classy way.
I am very clear about what I like and don’t like so when it came to choosing my bag I know my personality and what colors work for me and my style. Textures are also important, they have to feel soft.
Now I see even more in common between you and me and my sister Agata. We used to wear school uniforms and dresses designed and crafted by our mum. Muffs, bags and coats were our grandpa sole responsibility.
As we get more mature we find what really matters and are bound to get more investment pieces.
Yes I feel we refine our style as we mature. I certainly don’t wear clothes now that I would’ve worn 15 yrs ago, except for maybe jeans.
They will be a staple in my wardrobe until I die. I definitely won’t wear skirts above my knee anymore and its more because I feel that when you are over 50 it is more sophisticated to wear skirts or dresses on the knee or just below. But I feel that I have collected beautiful investment pieces that will remain in my wardrobe for years without going out of style due to the quality of the garments. As well you can mix them with current high street trends quite often and make your style your own.
You inspire women to be visible and fashionable regardless of their age but you started your career in beauty and blogging after 8 years in modelling. Now we can see you again on runways and in magazines.
Y: Was there a time in your career you thought it’s too late for modelling?
Most definitely. I modelled very briefly again in my mid 40’s but my agency never knew where to put me. I didn’t look like your average mum because I had a youthful freckly face, so they would send me to castings with 20 yr old girls which only made me feel old and out of place! If you had told me I would start modelling again at 55 and my career would be almost as good as it was in my 20’s I would not have believed it.
This ‘ Grey Movement “ has been amazing at raising the profile of the older woman in both fashion and advertising. Although I do feel that it is slow to build here unlike Europe and the States. Older models walk the runway in Paris often now and are used in high fashion campaigns regularly.
Right, it’s because they somehow mirror the street. Strong women that can support their lifestyle and the “value” means more than “price” for them.
I think the slow grow here is because of enormous multiculturalism of this country that needs to embrace so many styles.
It’s always good to have a mentor. Now women can pick from many programs tailored to their needs. In the past days, were asking for advice when met a role model.
Y: Do you think seeking for advice bares the weakness?
No I do not see seeking advice from mentors as weakness. I speak to another grey hair model in LA, who has now become a great friend, and we both ask advice of each other and support each other along the way. I think it is important if we are to grow. Many people in business have mentors to show them how it is done.
I went looking on Pinterest for women who had done it whilst remaining cool. I came across Linda Rodin she became my inspiration as she had a similar sense of fashion that I had and she was uber cool! I ended up meeting her after years later and telling her she was the reason I had gone grey.
Do you have or had someone on whose personality, life or achievements inspired you?
When I was deciding to go grey I went looking on Pinterest for women who had done it whilst remaining cool. I came across Linda Rodin she became my inspiration as she had a similar sense of fashion that I had and she was uber cool! I ended up meeting her few years later and telling her she was the reason I had gone grey.
You could see how this could be before you tried. Yes, that’s definitely the real purpose of social media content.
You can triumph stellar career in modelling then commercial and film makeup artistry. You must have learnt a lot from your LA experience
Y: How does geographic location influence your aesthetics?
Does changes empower or intimidate you?
Yes I learnt a lot from my LA experience. As scary as it is sometimes to change, it definitely empowers me and without it we don’t grow. So I have learnt over the years to embrace it. In fact I have learnt to enjoy pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I have definitely learnt so much from living in other places and have taken on different styles accordingly. When I lived in LA I was a little more rock n’ roll in my style and embraced the tattoo trend of dotting them all over your body!
I have since had a couple of them removed as they are not so much my style. I still have a couple that I will never remove as I love them.
All progress takes place out of the comfort zone and it’s not as scary as it seems, you can only take one step ahead which is easy …then another one.
Social media influence fashion and beauty landscape and promote fast moving trends.
Y: Do you adapt to those changes quickly?
I tend not to buy into fast moving trends. If I do buy a piece I make sure its just a high street piece and I can wear it to death this season and give to charity next year. I mix it with my more expensive pieces so it becomes more me.
Who or what has had the biggest influence on your style?
Linda Rodin for my grey hair and her style. I love Julienne Moore’s elegant and edgy style.
Y: How has the industry changed?
Both fashion and beauty have changed… Fashion has become fast throw away fashion which concerns me because of the huge amount of landfill it is creating. We need more quality in our clothes so that they last longer and stay classic. Unfortunately most of the luxury brands are sooooo expensive now that it is almost out of reach of the average person and there are not that many niche brands making great quality fashion at reasonable prices. I have always brought expensive shoes.
Beauty has become less classic and a little more trashy. Hopefully this is just a phase.
…What seems to be eternal?
Being unashamedly yourself. In your beauty, sexuality, personality. This to me will always be eternal!
True, no matter what revolutionary changes we go through, we end up searching for genuineness.
Y: Do you feel satisfied?
Yes I do feel satisfied. I feel that I am helping break those age stereotypes around women. And I feel empowered by this movement. I’m just hoping that more fashion labels will get on board with it and older women will not just be a novelty in advertising but will be part of the landscape going forward.
Encourage, empower and inspire, that’s what we want to do.
Thank you Michele.
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