Remember the days when a dash of glitter dust and some lipstick was enough to put your best "Carnival face" forward? And make-up colours like blues, reds, greens and yellows were considered loud and gaudy... cosquel even? Having a nice Carnival costume is not enough — as Carnival make-up continues to evolve more and more, women (and some men) are opting for bolder looks and are opting for Carnival faces that are innovative, fun and vibrant.
Around this time of year makeup is much more than fun – it is big business for many creative men and women. Rhinestones, false eyelashes, air brushed designs and unorthodox colours are the way to go as the face of Carnival continues to evolve in the 21st century. Make-up artist Renee Lewis has created a lucrative niche market using her talent to create innovative Carnival make-up trends through Je Vois Couleur (French for "I See Colour"). Lewis, known as Tori by her clients, says Carnival is not just Carnival anymore. "It's high fashion mixed with Carnival. People want to evolve. They want to go to the next level," Lewis says. To get to that next level, instead of settling for extravagant and vibrant costumes, masqueraders depend on Lewis's skills to create that trendy look that adds the high fashion element to their ensemble.
"The industry is changing. Trinidad is really getting into high fashion. Some years ago we really weren't into too much fashion but that is changing. Every day there is a new look and people now have a different perspective on things — especially when it comes to Carnival. People are looking for that 'wow' effect. The world is looking at us and it is our opportunity to showcase who we are. We are colourful vibrant people who enjoy life and live it to the fullest. There are still some who are conservative but for the most part, people are changing and they are seeing themselves differently. This is why new trends are picking up in Carnival make-up. Clients love colourful eyelashes, lots of dramatic colour and glitz and rhinestones; you name it," Lewis says.
Lewis is fun, fashionable and continuously explores new ideas and styles. The artist reveals that she dares to be different. She has been working as a professional make-up artist for three years, after her mentor suggested that she take advantage of her skills and the niche market to meet the needs of a wide variety of clients. Besides those wanting the trendy Carnival face, her clientele includes professionals looking for the more risqué looks for photo shoots and video shoots as well as brides and professionals who require more subtle and toned down looks. Her main products used are by the Milani and Ambrosia line of products.
"I see colour in everything I do. I tend to think out the box where colour is concerned. Carnival is one of the happiest times for me because I get to express myself more than ever, as well as clients get to enjoy the look that I create for them. I enjoy customising looks. Sometimes I have my clients send a picture of their costume and I will put some colours together. Sometimes I create a look ahead of time and I would send the look for them so when the day comes I know exactly which client wants what particular look. I do this because it helps with clients who are indecisive. There are the clients who might request something of their own design but they know my work so most of them just say, you know what Tori, you just do you. I'm a perfectionist and I am one to experiment. I also pay attention to details and I work hard," Lewis says.
Lewis's love for art is also evident in her make-up routines. Although Lewis completed a make-up course in New York, she is self-taught. She keeps updated on trends by following the work of local and international make-up artists. "I look up to quite a few people, my mentor Jewel Holder; I also enjoy Dixie-Ann John and Jaleesa Jaikaran. And I tend to follow the work in more high fashion countries like London and Italy. It helps with ideas. I would see something and find a way to incorporate something more and turn it around to create my signature touch. But I dare to be different. I will always try to make sure that I am not the same as anyone else — to stand out in a good way," She says.
Lewis is also into special make-up effects popularly known as FX make-up which require specific technical skills. Lewis is able to create realistic injuries or burns and various skin lesions mostly seen in action and horror movies. She works alongside photographers like Eustace Dyer, Sancho Francisco, Armani Savory, and Kerron Riley. It would be a dream come true to have her work photographed by Calvin French. "I like to see my work when it is photographed. I have seen my work grow over time. I am always amazed when people come up to me and comment on my work," the artist says.
Lewis can be contacted at JeVoisCouleur@gmail.com.