I've been fortunate enough to meet Napoleon Perdis in person on a few occasion and am always in awe of his boundless energy and passion — whether he's working with celebrities, "real people", or backstage at New York Fashion Week. Despite helming a veritable cosmetic empire that has him jet-setting around the world, Perdis took time out of his busy schedule to dish on his favorite makeup tips, his must have spring 2011 shades, celebrities he'd like to work with, the differences between his luxury and his Target collections, and more.
The Fashion Spot: Did you always know you wanted to work in the cosmetic business?
Napoleon Perdis: It started with my mum. I would help her get ready before she’d go out to an event or dinner with my father, so that was my first encounter with a makeup brush. Then my wife and I did makeup for brides while we were still in university in Australia. I actually studied political science and business and I was on track to becoming an attorney, but it wasn’t for me! My true passion was makeup. I have always had a strong creative spirit and a need to express that spirit. Makeup tells a story and empowers women to play with color, and that was what inspired me to become a makeup artist and start my own brand.
tFS: How did you come to develop NP Set?
NP: Target approached me to become their first male makeup artist line in 2007, and we launched the line in 2008. With NP Set, it’s always been about high-speed glamour on the go. I was attracted to Target because of their hugely successful design collaborations. No one can resist a well-designed bargain and Target, more so than any other retailer, has been especially adept at democratizing style for all. From the get-go, the collection has been paraben-free with organic benefits listed under the tagline “What’s In It For Me.” It's just as fashion-conscious as the prestige line with edgy products from the It Takes Two Concealer and Foundation Pot to our nurturing new four piece skin care essentials collection.
tFS: What products/tools can't you live without?
NP: NP Set Pore Perfecting Pre-Foundation Primer because not to prime is a crime! It’s been my career-long mantra and it helps finesse your foundation, helping your skin to stay flawless for longer. Glamorista Mascara is a godsend. The candelilla wax and ginseng extracts work to really condition and lengthen your lashes and it guarantees ultra-long lashes.
tFS: Where do you get your color inspiration from each season?
NP: My inspiration stems from a range of things: fashion, music, art, and interior design. But while my eye is focused on trends and popular culture, I’m always committed to translating the directional into the doable. Women always want wearable and that’s what I aim to achieve each season.
tFS: What are the must-have shades for spring and summer?
NP: For the eyes, I’m all for bright shades like emerald greens, lilacs and pinks. Converting them into an everyday look is easier than you think. Try it as an eyeliner or just a sheer wash from the lash line to crease. It’s about what you feel comfortable with, so start the color at 20 percent and build it up from there. Finish with lots of mascara to frame and bring out your eyes. As for the spring lip look, try bold colors like orange and fuchsia.
tFS: Aside from price, what are the main difference between your Napoleon Perdis line and your NP Set line at Target?
NP: The Napoleon Perdis product line helps to democratize glamour with empowering products that inspire and educate. It's about runway AND reality. NP Set is about glamour on the go, easy chic and California cool. It's about getting the look, but keeping the change.
tFS: With your brand being so huge now, how do you make sure that everything with your name on it meets your quality standards?
NP: As a working makeup artist, I am personally involved in every product we create. I make sure that every product is infused with skin-supporting ingredients, silken textures, and a feel-good message of female empowerment thanks to built-in educators and pro tips. I also make sure to stay connected to my customers with in-store personal appearances and through Twitter and Facebook.
tFS: Is there any celebrity you'd love to work with?
NP: I would love to work with a young trend-setting celeb. But my aim is to conjure the celebrity in ALL women of every age and ethnicity.
tFS: Any favorite makeup tips/tricks you can share with us?
NP: Mascara first. It’s a makeup trick that my mum taught me, and it really works to open up the eyes and frame the rest of your makeup look. Apply a coat of mascara right after foundation and concealer, following eye shadow application and once more after lipstick.
tFS: What can we expect from your Fall 2011 Napoleon Perdis and NP Set lines?
NP: For the Napoleon Perdis line, I’m debuting a collection devoted to red lipsticks. I’ve always believed that all women can wear red and this lineup is a celebration of the traffic-stopping hue. For NP Set, I have two new primers coming up: one to brighten dull skin, and another for calming sensitized skin and minimizing redness. Plus, a collection of six Shadow Duos that are completely paraben and talc free. Now I’ve said too much!