Oscar winner Charlize Theron was the last VIP to arrive at West Hollywood’s Holloway House shortly after 8 p.m. on Wednesday night, Oct. 25, for The Hollywood Reporter and Instagram’s exclusive party to toast the town’s most influential glam gurus. Theron had good reason for turning up just as guests were being seated for dinner — her glam squad got the party started early at her house.
“We were all together trying to get ready in my bathroom which is kind of difficult because it’s this big,” said Theron while holding her hands together to represent a tight squeeze. “And we were having way too much champagne and just talking. Our conversations cover so much because our lives are so big and we can talk about anything. I love them so incredibly much. I don’t know how else to articulate it — they are my community.”
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Theron’s inner circle includes hairstylist Adir Abergel and colorist Tracey Cunningham, makeup artist Kate Lee and nail expert Tom Bachik, all of whom were in attendance at the event which hosted a veritable who’s who of the town’s top image makers. The night included cocktails, dinner and electric mingling for artists who rarely get to be in the same room together let alone be honored for their trend-setting work. The soiree came hours after the publication of THR’s Beauty Issue which placed a spotlight on the 40 top hair, makeup and nail pros who keep the A-listers looking flawless, including cover stars Zoe Saldaña, Dakota Johnson and Gabrielle Union.
There are so many ways one can use to describe those collaborations, but Theron leaned on a word that became the undisputed theme of the night. “I trust these people,” said the actress, producer and philanthropist. “I mean, I trust my children with them, too. As a producer, I know that the secret is you hire the right people and you’ll just let them do their job.”
She wasn’t alone in staying joined at the hip with her team at the event, sponsored by Upneeq, an FDA-approved, non-surgical eyelid lift delivered via eyedrops. Superstar singer and actress Janelle Monáe hung with makeup artist Keita Moore and hair expert Nikki Helms. Ashley Park made rounds with her team including hairstylist Clayton Hawkins and makeup artist Jenna Nicole; all three were photographed together for THR’s new Beauty Issue. Larry Sims, who appears on THR’s cover alongside client Gabrielle Union, accompanied Cassie to the event. Kelly Rowland showed up with makeup artist Sheika Daley. Logan Browning stayed close to makeup and grooming guru Tasha Reiko Brown, who appears in a THR shoot opposite client Michael B. Jordan. Normani attended with makeup artist Rokael.
“Our glam teams are the reason why we can do what we do, and shine on the carpet and feel confident,” offered Shay Mitchell while standing next to her makeup artist Ash K. Holm. “And I always do. It’s such an important part.” Holm returned the compliment: “It’s an honor to be able to work with Shay and to be able to grow together in the industry. Honestly, my job is always to make her look exactly like the star that she is, to match the makeup with her talents.”
Browning was also feeling the love for Reiko Brown. “I love Tasha so much. I trust her,” Browning offered, once again surfacing the word of the night. “I’ve worked with her a very long time and one of the things I find very special and fascinating about Tasha is her artistry. Many people don’t know that she’s a painter and really dedicated to interior design. I trust her vision and always feel safe with Tasha. I actually never make a plan with her because I trust the vision and she has a light. We’re also both Geminis, so we just get along.”
Browning also explained another facet of the glam artist/celebrity client relationship, something that rarely gets printed but is just as crucial as product credits. “She’s in my home, she’s seeing me at my bare face, on my happy days, my sad days, and it’s an energy transfer. Someone’s literally putting their hands, their brushes on you, and that requires a lot of a person on her end to discharge her own life and her own energy and allow me the space to prepare for wherever we’re going. But at the same time, it’s also about reciprocity because I care about Tasha. When she’s in my face and in my space, I also care about how she’s doing. It’s a mutual care and respect.”
It’s a bond that fosters experimentation explained actress Kathryn Newton and her hairstylist of eight years, Renato Campora. “He’s the only person I’ve ever let cut my hair in my entire life. Every time I ask him, ‘What are we going to do today?’ He says, ‘It’s going to be beautiful hair, and I believe him because it always is. He sets the bar so high that every time is completely different than the last. It’s more than a look for an event or red carpet, it’s about what story we are telling,” said Newton.
Added Campora: “To me, that’s what I love the most. When you going to different places, you need to adapt to the looks for what that night is going to look like. It’s important to look the most beautiful but it’s also about having a strong point of view to always be creating something new.”
Sometimes those collaborations can lead to new career challenges for both artists. Actress Jurnee Smollett and makeup artist Vincent Oquendo told THR about how they started working together on a film promo tour and continued their collaborations by marking a first for Oquendo: He booked his first movie as a makeup artist to work with Smollett on the feature film Spiderhead starring the actress opposite Chris Hemsworth and Miles Teller.
“I’m so proud of him,” she said of the film, which found them spending quarantine together in Australia where they were shooting. In addition to Paris Fashion Week collabs, they also teamed on a virtual press junket for Lovecraft Country during the pandemic. “We would do these tutorials over Zoom where he was teaching me how to do my own makeup, and my God, he was sending me boxes and boxes of makeup. I also did Comic-Con from home in 2020 and he helped me do my makeup over Zoom.”
Speaking of online worlds, Daley said one of the perks of such an event is being able to see peers in real life. “We’re always seeing each other in passing on Instagram. It’s been years since we’ve been actually physically be in the same room together,” she said. “So it’s really nice to come together and celebrate each other.” The celebration featured a menu that included kung pao cauliflower, citrus salad, roasted chicken, king salmon, a grains bowl and chocolate chip cookies and fruit for dessert. Guests were sent home with gift bags that featured luxe products from Gabrielle Union’s Flawless and Soho Skin and an Olaplex gift set.
In remarks during the dinner, Instagram director of fashion partnerships Eva Chen spoke about the connections of the platform to the beauty world. “I’m so happy to be here tonight at this amazing event from The Hollywood Reporter and Meta,” said Chen during introductory remarks, mentioning Instagram’s parent company. Chen was joined at the party with Instagram’s head Adam Mosseri, who was seated next to Mitchell who has a massive audience on the platform with 37 million followers.
“We are all here to celebrate beauty tonight. Having been a beauty editor for almost a decade and now working at Instagram, I know you guys are the hardest working people in the industry. You are creating the images that everyone remembers,” continued Chen. “You guys are the ones behind the scenes creating it. You’re working 12, 14, sometimes 20 hour days, and I see the hustle sitting next to [Tracey Cunningham] who said that tomorrow morning she’s getting up at 4 a.m. to work on one of her clients.”
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Chen noted how influential those in attendance are when sharing their art on Instagram or showcasing different sides of their personalities on the recently-launched Threads. (On that note, several beauty insiders like Sara Tan, Kirbie Johnson and Brooke DeVard Ozaydinli were posting on Threads throughout the night, seen below.) “We’ve also heard from so many of the artists in this room that they find their inspiration for and get their careers started on Instagram,” she noted. “And so many of you have stories about clients sliding into your DMs. I love to hear those stories about the DMs sliding.”
Among the hair, makeup and nails artists in attendance — all of whom made THR’s 2023 Beauty List — were Mara Roszak, Jenny Cho, Kara Yoshimoto Bua, Amy Komorowski, Misha Shahzada, Chaun Legend, Betina Goldstein, Etienne Ortega and Peter Lux.
THR’s deputy editor Degen Pener — who shared the microphone with co-editors Nekesa Mumbi Moody and Maer Roshan — told a story of his own by recalling an interview with the late legendary actress Cicely Tyson “for a story we did about being othered in the hair and makeup trailer.” He said Tyson shared that how hard it had been for women of color in Hollywood to find artists skilled with her skin tone. “She told me that she had never, ever wanted to watch herself on screen, which was really heartbreaking,” Pener said. “I just want to use that as a way of leading into saying again, what everyone does here is very important. Everyone deserves to be seen, and to be seen in their best light. And you all do an amazing job at that.”
Another person who was quick to keep the shine to the artists in the spotlight was Monáe. “I don’t call them my glam squad,” she said, ” I call them my glam-ily because they are my family. My family who just so happens to do my glam. I love them as people. They’re artists within their own right, and I trust them. I literally can close my eyes and let [Keita Moore] do my makeup. I literally can close my eyes and let [Nikki Nelms] do my hair. These are people I trust in my most intimate of times and people I have fun with.”
Fun was definitely had at the event. Theron may have been the last to arrive but she also was among the last to leave shortly before midnight, making sure to keep the party going on behalf of her beauty squad. “This is my favorite kind of night because it’s not about me, it’s about them and that made me excited to be here.”
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