But that’s not the case.
Sir John has a welcoming and approachable energy, which made me feel I can chat to him about just about anything. I met the make-up guru to the stars at SA Fashion Week (SAFW) on Tuesday night after the Woolworths Style By SA showcase in Joburg.
He complimented me on my green eyeliner, which meant a lot coming from someone with his expertise.
Sir John was in the country because he has partnered with the Woolworths Beauty “WBeauty” for SA Fashion Week, of which they are sponsors.
He held two beauty and make-up masterclasses over the weekend in Cape Town and Joburg. He also created make-up looks the models wore for the Style By SA runway show.
This year’s Style by SA collection features the work of 10 local fashion designers and collectives, of which four have been commissioned by Woolworths to produce pieces made using sustainable fibres.
Local fashion frontrunners Rich Mnisi, Thebe Magugu, Selfi and AKJP, have conceptualised and designed a range made from Better Cotton. The cotton has been sourced from the SADC region and has undergone a dyeing process that uses only eco-friendly chemicals. Better Cotton has been developed as a sustainable solution by the “Better Cotton Initiative” (BCI) programme.
Their capsule collection taps into some of the season’s key new directions, which includes blue and white striped shirting, set off with striking hues of orange, cobalt and candy pink.
The art student turned producer, mentor and brand ambassador, rose to fame through his talent for creating looks that revere natural beauty, and a deep understanding of a variety of skin tones.
I asked him about his take on the current beauty landscape.
“With singer and songwriter Rihanna shaking up the industry with her Fenty Beauty make-up for all skin colours, all undertones, from all countries It’s a monumental time for women of colour, who for a long time have been offered a tiny crumb when it comes to make-up that suits the different shades of black skin.
“It has taken so long to reach this point, because cosmetics companies have been lazy and they have been overlooking a demographic of women who have been loyal to beauty from day one,” he said.
“Now with the conversation changing, in the last month or two with the release of Fenty Beauty especially, everyone wants to be more inclusive; they want to have more representation now, but you know It’s about time,” he added.
“Representation of all races shouldn’t just happen in make-up, but it should happen on billboards as well.
“Visual representation is the most impactful When a girl from Senegal sees herself in a magazine or billboard campaign that is what changes the world,” he said.
Sir John’s advice for aspiring make-up artists is: “Take a painting class and paint Don’t go directly into make-up, but pick up a brush and paint on canvas. Paint on walls, on anything you can lay your hands on. And if you don’t have expensive paint, make your own dyes.
“I know that sounds far-fetched but if you have an orthodox view, if you go to a museum and you see what the artistic masters have done and you translate that onto a canvas
“If you have a sense of where we have been as a society, through art you can be one of the best and most powerful make-up artists in the world,” he added.
Shop the Style By SA collection is available at Woolworths stores and online at: www.woolworths.co.za.