THE BEAUTY INDUSTRY ICON TELLS ALL ABOUT HER LOVE OF NATURE, HER SUPERMODEL MUSES AND HOW SHE ALMOST BECAME A DOCTOR…
There are make-up artists and then there are make-up moguls. Terry De Gunzburg is undisputedly the latter. The founder of BY TERRY has not only made up some of the world’s most recognisable faces, she’s single-handedly changed the face of beauty (this is the woman who brought Touche Eclat into the world during her tenure at YSL). We talk to her about swapping science for shoots and how it feels to work with some of the world’s most iconic men and women.
Did you always want to be a make-up artist?
I never dreamed of becoming a make-up artist. I’ve loved cosmetics since I was a child – a passion passed down to me from my dad, a pharmaceutical researcher, who used to teach my sister and I how to make creams and perfumes using ingredients from our garden in Provence. However, I didn’t ever picture myself working in the beauty industry as an artist.
I come from a long line of scientists and as a very disciplined student it made sense for me to become a doctor. But I’ve always had a creative side, which is what made me stop my medical studies and enrol in one of Paris’s best fine art schools (Beaux Arts de Paris) instead. I had a four-week gap before university started, so I decided to do a summer training course in make-up and cosmetics with legendary sisters Maria and Rosy Carita.
One day, Maria Carita sent me on a photoshoot for Vogue because there were no other make-up artists available. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it, but at the same time I had nothing to lose – as it turned out, the shoot went fantastically well. The rest, as they say, is history as it was then that I realised how much I loved make-up and creating my own signature beauty looks. I never went back to university and became a make-up artist instead.
“My dad taught me to make creams and perfumes from ingredients in our garden”
What’s been the proudest moment of your career?
Definitely creating my own brand BY TERRY in 1998. It was a huge, daunting step to leave YSL to start my own business and although I’d had a clear vision of what I wanted for many years, the whole set-up was extremely challenging. When I first launched the haute couleur, I wanted to express the values and beauty expertise in exactly the same way that fashion houses organise their creations; from haute couture to prêt-à-porter using cutting-edge technological innovations, the most sophisticated techniques and the purest pigments. Customers can even book appointments with us for make-up ‘fittings’, just like haute couture!
You’ve worked with so many of fashion’s greats, such as Helmut Newton. What’s been your most memorable shoot?
My first photoshoot with Guy Bourdin for Vogue. I was totally in awe and felt so lucky to be part of such a prestigious project. He made us work on the make-up and hair for more than six hours before finally choosing an image of the model from behind! Even though it felt as if we’d put our hearts and souls into – shall we say – an unexpected result, it was still a hugely rewarding experience that gave me my ‘INGU’ (I Never Give Up) spirit.
Whose face would you most like to make up?
I’ve loved doing the make-up for Linda Evangelista, Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, but to be honest I’ve enjoyed doing make-up on my clients even more.
As my career progressed from make-up artist to creative director to founder of BY TERRY, I had less and less time to do make-up on other people. These days, my time is dedicated to creating new products and imagining new innovations, so my days of making up faces is over.
“I adore all the products I’ve created – every single colour, texture and innovation”
What’s your favourite product in the range and why?
Quite impossible to answer! I adore all the products I've created – every single colour, texture and innovation. But if I had to choose, I would have to say the new Lip-Expert liquid lipstick range. I love how the colours are saturated in pigment while being so comfortable to wear.
And I can’t leave out the Baume de Rose – it’s a very personal skincare range for me. It was inspired by my love of roses, which stems from my childhood. My mother and grandmother would pour rose water into my bath to give me a beautiful, healthy complexion. Roses have so many incredible skincare properties, which is why I incorporate them into many of my products to this day.