My Week: Val Garland - Mistress of mascara

Val Garland is one of the fashion world's most sought-after make- up artists. she's just finished a week at the Paris couture shows, where she worked with alexander mcqueen. her latest project is a George Michael and Mary J Blige video
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The Independent Culture

Wake up call at 6.30am in a hotel in central Paris. A coach takes me and my team of 11 to the show. I like to set up early and have a coffee. Doing these shows is a fantastic way to diet because you never get a chance to eat.

We are doing 41 different looks. At this show each model is made up like an individual character. I spoke with the designer, Lee (aka Alexander McQueen) and his assistant Katy England about a month ago so that I could research the looks. It's a challenge but I love the stress. It's like a military operation.

Minutes before the show, I'm doing Amber Valetta's make-up and trying to get glitter on to her eyes while five hairdressers are untangling her hair. Lee, meanwhile, is desperate to get her into her outfit.

The show starts at 4pm. It is fantastic to see the different characters. Lee and I stand by the monitor as each girl comes out and another one comes back. I check the lips and the shine on the chin to make sure nothing has been wrecked. At the end of the show we all cheer and have a glass of champagne.

Next we take off all the model's make-up and slowly pack up the kit. It looks like Beirut, glitter and eyelashes everywhere.


Our first meeting takes place in my hotel room at about 10am. We go through the ideas for the Viktor and Rolf show. We've decided on Fifties make- up and loads of eyelashes.

It's ironic but for someone who works with cosmetics all day I wear barely any make-up. I'm a very clean-scrubbed girl and I don't really have time to bother. I do, however, like to go every two weeks to have my nails manicured. As for clothes, I wear casual combat gear.

The afternoon is spent giving demonstrations for Viktor and Rolf. I collapse at about 10pm. I really do need my rest.


Get up at 5am. The show starts at 11.30am. The models come out in darkness with only UV light. We have used UV make-up with Fifties lines and Sixties shapes and white beauty spots. The effect is floating make-up images walking down the catwalk.

I catch the train back to London and arrive in Kensal Rise at 10pm. There is a message telling me that tomorrow's start time is 6.30am. I'd hoped that it would be 10ish. I book a wake-up call for 4.45am.


I am doing the make-up for the new Mary J Blige and George Michael video. My assistant and I drive to Stratford. It doesn't take long as there's no traffic. There are four clones of George Michael and Mary J Blige who must all be made to look alike by 8am. The guys must all have beards and a great tan like George. The girls all have to have beauty spots in the same place as Mary J.

George and Mary are fantastically professional people; and they are really nice. I have to check that they are happy with their make-up and feel confident. Today is a short day. Filming finishes at 10.30pm. I must sleep.


We are on set by 6.45am. Doing a video is a completely different experience from Paris fashion week. It's like the calm after the storm. I am told that the Rex is a rave club normally but the art department has done a very good job. It looks exclusive - all Louis Vuitton and Gucci. I feel like I'm working in a plush nightclub.