A woman’s most sensuous asset during the Han Dynasty (221 B.C.- 220 A.D.) was her mouth. Women created rounded, heart and flower shapes on their lips using rouge, the ancient lipstick alternate. So what rocks the brush boat anno 2017? Temper hooks up with makeup artist Cooper “Tan!n!” Cu!
From (non-)biblical times, we travel to a city deemed by some a Sodom and Gomorrah of the digital age: Shanghai. One cosmopolitan cosmetic playground.
The ancient Romans were widely using cosmetics by the middle of the 1st century A.D., make-up maven Medusa informs us. Kohl was an essential asset to literally tone down the eyelashes and eyelids, achieving that intense-looking smokey avant-la-lettre sultriness. Chalk, then, was used for whitening the complexion and rouge in turn was worn on the apples of the cheeks — how very Snow White. On a “did you know?” note: Hair removal too already proved a popular practice 2000 years ago and pumice was used for cleaning the teeth. And feet, I dare presume — given the fashionableness of sandals…
The earliest historical record of makeup hails from the First Dynasty of ancient Egypt (3218–3035 B.C., give or take). Tombs recovered from this era have revealed jars containing lotion, which in later periods became scented. Cream was extensively used by both the men and women — both in real life and afterlife — to maintain a supple, well-hydrated skin. The women of ancient Egypt decorated their eyes by applying dark green color to the under-lid and blackening both the lashes and the upper lid using kohl. This kohl was produced from the chemical (metallic) element antimony or plain soot.
In bulking up your impressively useless party-trivia beautycase: Legend has it that the Jews adopted their application of makeup from the Egyptians as references to “the painting of faces” appear throughout the New Testament. Salome must have really known her way around a brush.From biblical times, we travel to a city deemed by outsiders a Sodom and Gomorrah of the digital age: Shanghai. Trained and educated at Tokyo’s MODE GAKUEN, currently Japan’s largest specialized training college, for four years, Japanese certified makeup artist Cooper “Tan!n!” Cu in 2016 made his way from Japan’s metropolis to Shanghai. With his visual art published across fashion magazines such as ELLE, AR Tokyo, Zipper, EDGE STYLE, RAY, and having painted the catwalk multi-colori from Tokyo Fashion Week to Dior, make-up artist Cooper “Tan!n!” Cu is one hot, hip and happening (and Temper trending) cookie.
History Of Japanese Makeup: Geisha Matters
Because we simply cannot not go there.
The rightful origins of the white makeup on a geisha’s face are remain uncertain. According to Japan Coolture, one theory has it that during the Middle ages “a traveller returned from Europe with stories of “pale-faced” beauties”. Plausible as this may sound, the white makeup is said to have come from China and to have later been adopted by Japanese courtesans. Considering that its use first appeared in the Heian era (794-1185), when China exerted a strong cultural influence over Japan, this theory probably makes for the better-fitting explanation. Japan Coolture continues:
“Women in the Heian era used rice powder mixed with water to form a thin layer of paste to be applied on the face as foundation layer. Then they would remove their eyebrows and paint in thick, straight, false eyebrows high on their forehead and coloured them in thick black in the middle of the forehead. The lips were painted red. To finish off the overall look, the lips are colored in with a small, precise brush. Once the colour was extracted from the benibana flower (aka the safflower) infused in water, then covered with crystallized sugar to give it lustre.”
Minutiae alert: Teeth would be stained black with a mixture of oxidized iron steeped in an acidic solution, a custom that ended in the Meiji era (1868-1912) and is now only used by maiko (training geishas) in the week before they become geiko (“master” of the art). Bear in mind that the term geiko was primarily used to refer to geisha from Kyoto. Although geisha formerly referred to only those originating from Tokyo and its surrounding areas, this word has now become the general term for all geisha. Be that as may, the Heian era’s amorous and idyllic look was later adopted by the courtesans inside “houses of pleasure”, trying to mimic (recapture, even) the illustrative and symbolic delicacy of those golden geisha days long vanished into the mist.
Ten Temper questions With Tan!n!
1. How old were you when you became obsessed with makeup?
“Actually… It was purely by chance that I became a makeup artist when I was 22! When I was a kid, I liked painting and once I — fast forward a decade — had graduated from college, I decided I wanted to step into the fashion world. Why I chose to become a makeup artist, specifically, was simply because I wanted to make people more beautiful and show them how to build up their confidence and just own it by using colorful things to show off their personalities!”
2. When did you decide “okay, this is it, I’m going to be a professional makeup artist?”
“My first professional gig was with M.A.C., back when I was still in Tokyo. To dot the i’s and cross my t’s in my answer to this question, I should add that this was in fact my first job after striding into — and opening up — the world of fashion, or rather that of ‘makeup’. I like a challenge, especially when it comes to makeup, and always want to try to a lot of new things that at first glance may seem beyond my reach or capabilities. So whilst working on that very first M.A.C. job, I made up my mind and told myself ‘this is it’!”
3. What role does make-up play in Tokyo? How important is the role of make-up in Japanese history and culture? In a few words, if you please.
“As the second biggest city in the world, fashion and make-up play an essential part in the daily lives of many a Tokyo-resident. The whole world by now knows about ‘Kabukicho [Tokyo’s nightlife hub that, in the 21st Century, has witnessed the rise of the modern male ‘geisha’, if you will and FYI] and kimono’ geisha makeup. When walking the streets of Tokyo, one witnesses a vast array of styles. Harajuku, however cliche this may sound, is perhaps the one area boasting the widest variety in Japanese dress and makeup styles. Love.”
4. How do you communicate with the photographer you’re working with on a shoot to achieve his or her goals?
“First off, I have to tell the photographer what the client’s concept and thoughts on this are. That takes priority. Obviously, it takes some back and forth when deciding on which style-route to take and how we can really bring the idea to life! It’s a continuous dialogue. And of course, there are those times that a photographer shares with me the image he has his mind set on and I can just roll with that. Which is fun, obviously.”
5. How much of your input do you add to achieve the results the photographer is looking for?
“Quite a lot. First and foremost, you must remember that the photographer is the most important person on set. You have to channel his vision — or in the case of a fashion show, the designer’s vision, of course — through makeup and ensure the whole look is on-fleek. My input heavily relies on imagination and communication. We, the makeup artist, are there to get the job done. To perfection! Like I said before, communicating before shooting is key for any team. I then have to convey my ideas to my team. We’ll draft a plan of action and arrange for a strategy to be in place. And then… We go wild [laughs].”
6. What are the three tools in your makeup kit that you can never, ever be without?
“The three tools I can never, ever go without are my brushes, a small towel and sponges!”
7. Which one do you prefer to work on: Catwalk or photoshoot?
“Which one do I prefer… Honestly, I don’t think I have a particular preference. As a make-up artist, I often have no choice but to … well… face reality [laughs]. I like fashion. That’s just it; the setting, stage, shape or size doesn’t matter to me. I will say this, when it comes to photoshoots, you have to be more careful and precise when applying the makeup. The catwalk is a different beast: It’s fast, quickie makeup.”
8. Your move to China, then. Any No.1 trend spotted?
“My move to China. Basically, I’m now working as a freelancer, mostly! The larger part of my of jobs involve collaborations with high-fashion brands and then of course you have Shanghai Fashion Week. Trend-wise, then. Baby-face, baby doll, heavy eyeliner, smokey eyes, au naturel… There’s no pinpointing one current makeup trend here. At this very moment, I should add. It’s a party!”
9. What, to you, is “beauty”? Or “Chinese beauty”, in a non-offensive PC kinda way
” [laughs] Let’s just say ‘Asian’ beauty, shall we? Short and sweet: It’s all about maximalizing natural or ‘minimal’ makeup. That’s ‘beauty’ to me.”
10. Where do you get your inspiration from?
“Nature, objects, stories, anything and everything that crosses my daily path in a sensual, visual or audible way! Inspiration is everywhere and can strike at any time.”
History Of Cosmetics: Fun Facts
Women in the 19th Century would use belladonna to make their eyes appear more luminous. This poisonous plant that has been used as a medicine since ancient times; it was named “Belladonna” after the “beautiful women” of Renaissance Italy, who took it to enlarge their pupils.
Many cosmetics in the 1800s were formulated (literally) by the parish pharmacist and this type of “expert” commonly employed ingredients such as mercury and nitric acid. Lovely. Nevertheless, fast forward some 200 years and Melanie Haiker reported the following in Forbes back in 2012:
“The list of dangerous skin creams is fairly long, but — so far at least — contains only products you’d purchase from an import store or Latino, Asian or Middle Eastern market, and no American-made brands or products. The creams are intended primarily for “skin lightening” and anti-aging and include Stillman’s skin bleach cream, Diana skin lightening formula, and numerous products with labels in Chinese, Hindi, and other languages.”
Moving on. Men wore makeup until the 1850s. George IV spent a fortune on cold cream, powders, pastes and scents. However, not all men wore makeup, as many looked upon a man with rouged cheeks as a dandy. Well-heeled Louis XIV was a sleek bit of mink in his own right, both the women and men of Versailles bore heavy white makeup consisting of mercury, lead, egg whites and vinegar. Yummy.
On a final fun note, here’s one beauty tip recipe utilized during the late 19th Century, once again courtesy of Medusa’s Makeup:
“As a wash for the complexion: one teaspoon of flour of sulphur and a wine glassful of lime water, well shaken and mixed with half a wine-glass of glycerine and a wine-glass of rose-water. Rub on the face every night before going to bed. “
From the 1930s through the 1950s, Hollywood’s studio movie stars proved to be the cat’s meow in het world of makeup trends. We — chronologically speaking — have moved from Audrey Hepburn’s cat-eyed liner, onto the liberated “anything goes” or “je m’en fou” hippie look of the 1960s and the heavily lined eyes, shimmeringly showcasing every eyeshadow in the palette, throughout the 1980s yuppie culture. Today’s trend seems to have reverted to the more natural look with a blending of styles from our rich cosmetic past. Nonetheless, given Temper is wise as Solomon, never forget: One must never blend in, but indeed always stand out!
Contact Tan!n via
Tel: +86 18362054976
Images: With the exception of the Suzuki Swift image, all images in this feature come courtesy of Cooper Tan!n Cu.