The Great Gatsby makeup: Maurizio Silvi shares the film’s 1920s beauty secrets

Great Gatsby 1920s makeup
Photography by Justin Ridler/Warner Bros. Pictures
Great Gatsby 1920s makeup
Photography by Matt Hart/Warner Bros. Pictures

Get a sneak peek at the 1920s makeup looks from The Great Gatsby »

There are just a few weeks to go before The Great Gatsby hits theatres and excitement for the film is as strong as ever. From extended trailers to Prada’s costumes, the slow drip of Gatsby content has us eager to see the real thing—but it’s (almost!) enough to keep us satisfied until May 10. And now we’re adding to the sneak peek onslaught. M.A.C Cosmetics worked with The Great Gatsby’s makeup designer, Maurizio Silvi, and provided product used in the film—and we have the behind-the-scenes scoop from Silvi himself.

Of all the reasons to obsess over the film, the 1920s aesthetic ranks at the top of our list. It’s also one of Silvi’s favourite eras: “Among the fashions that will remain forever in history, that of the ’20s is certainly the highest expression of class and beauty. This era encompassed years of revolution, unconventionality and renewal. The makeup is very refined […] Baz Luhrmann’s highly anticipated adaptation of The Great Gatsby will give a remarkable imprint on fashion and makeup.” Curious about the process for creating the makeup looks from The Great Gatsby? Read on for all the intel.

How Maurizio Silvi defines the 1920s makeup look:
“Since the roaring ‘20s was a time of great economic growth, women began to wear more makeup than years prior. Women celebrated the age of the “flapper girls” as a female declaration of independence. They also began to take more risk in their makeup: Pale skin, smoky eyes, bolder lips, curvy eyebrows, lots of mascara and rosy cheeks. Women were also not afraid to make a statement and they used makeup to express themselves.”

Classic car colours inspired the eyeshadow choices:
“A M.A.C custom eyeshadow palette was created with shades in “Scene,” “Contrast,” “Nehru” and “Club.” A variation of colour combinations was used on the majority of the party looks. Pigments in “Copper,” “Rose Gold” and “Antique Green” were also used on the lids to pop the eyes. The colours chosen were inspired by the cars of the period.”

Concealer-coloured lip liner was used to draw a true 1920s lip:
“For the lips, we used different lipstick colours depending on the character: Cremsheen Lipstick in “Hang-Up,” Lipstick in “Film Noir,” “Media,” “Ruby Woo” and “Desire.” Lip pencils included “Cherry,” “Half-Red” and “Currant.” Chromagraphic Pencil in “NC15/NW20” was sometimes used to define the lip line and block out corners of the mouth to create the popular ’20s shape.”

What it was like working with Baz Luhrmann:
“Baz’s vision for makeup is strictly linked to the harmonized costumes and light used throughout the film, giving each character a strong and powerful soul. During the first meetings we had with Baz and Catherine [Martin, the costume designer] we viewed several images and paintings that depicted the fashion, hair and makeup of that specific historical moment in time. We then gradually carried out numerous makeup tests with the main characters and extras to determine what products and looks worked best.”

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