The success of J.Crew can be credited to a few things, among them Mickey, Jenna, and a now-famous look that starts with a cuffed pair of jeans and ends with a poppy lip color. Central to the creation of that beauty look is makeup artist Troi Ollivierre, who has been with the brand since pleated khakis were a catalogue mainstay. Since then, Ollivierre has created the dewy, no-Photoshop-required clean look of the models and started his own lipstick line (which will soon include lip stains). Ollivierre talked to the Cut about the brand’s beauty transition, how to apply lipstick like a J.Crew model, and the products used to make all the models shine.
How did you start working for J.Crew?
Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always loved hair and makeup. I would look at Vogue all the time in the kitchen of my fanciest friend’s mom. I was like, Someday, I want to do that. I moved to New York, worked in a salon for a bit, and then started to build a portfolio.
With J.Crew, I just got a call one day. They needed someone and I went in. Since then, we haven’t had a lull in working together. I was with them when the brand was much more lifestyle-y and plain, to the look we are doing today with shinier skin.
What is the J.Crew beauty look?
It’s pulled back, with natural skin and shine. No mascara, nothing. There isn’t any eyeliner used in any of the J.Crew looks. Deciding to add lipstick to the J.Crew look was a slow process. It was about getting out of preppy to be considered more fashion-y.
We’re not a building a face. It’s not about that. The look has to be all about the clothing and the girl, so that it feels beautiful and fresh, but you’re able to add something to the face. A lipstick brightens you up and the girl is still there. We use our eyes when we are talking, and lipstick adds a beautiful, sensual quality to the face. It’s about looking at the whole picture and not one thing. You want to see beauty all around and see the pieces of the puzzle.
What was the process of creating the colors for your line?
Oh boy. It was a long process, from finding the right labs to the colors. The lipsticks are made in Italy. Parker, one of the colors, came from an amazing picture I saw of a red coat. The light hit this coat and had a little bit of raspberry and brightness to it. The basis of the collection came from working day to day at J.Crew. A lipstick is something a lot of women feel like they can’t wear. But with the right tone and texture, it can be something very comfortable.
A lot of beautiful colors are sometimes too heavy or too dry or bleed a lot. Sometimes, you can also take a color off but feel it on your lips. I wanted these lipsticks to have a lot of pigment, be matte, but have a lightweight feel. The color is strong, but you can put on a little bit and still get a lot of color.
How do you like to apply the lipstick?
I believe in patting it in with your finger. It doesn’t look like it’s just sitting there, but [it blends] in with the warmth of your fingers. It makes it look seamless. I prefer not to use a brush. When I do go for a brush, I still prefer patting it in. It softens the line, so it doesn’t look like something just painted on.
How do you get that shiny, perfect “J.Crew” skin?
It’s about having the skin look beautiful, perfect, and shiny, not in a bad way. I put a little highlighter on the cheek, bow of the lip, and inner corners of the eye to give it that light and shine. Sometimes, I even do the bridge of the nose. It makes your skin look really polished. Also, great brows, I’m always pushing up the brows. For highlighting, I use the RMS Beauty Living Luminizer.
We use foundation sparingly. It’s mostly moisturizer and very little foundation whenever it’s needed to take out some redness and even out the skin. The foundation we currently use is something we are formulating. As for the blush, we prefer to use cream blush and apply it on the apples of the cheeks. We put a dab of foundation over the cream blush for more of a natural look. The rosiness shines out of the skin, so it feels and looks like your own skin.
What colors from your line do you suggest people start with?
People are drawn to the classic orange-red, Parker, for sure. Atticus is also popular; it’s strong and bright, but a little softer. For someone who doesn’t want a bright red or pink or orange, if they try the Atticus, they still get the brightness.
This interview has been condensed and edited.