Edmonton: James Kershaw—makeup artist, writer and all-round fabulous guy

James Kershaw's work in action. Photography by Tracy Grabowski

Makeup artist James Kershaw's work in action. Photography by Tracy Grabowski

When you think of James Kershaw, you think makeup artist, stylist, entrepreneur and even writer. You probably don’t think Kim Campbell.  Well, as it turns out, they have more in common than you think. 

Both are trailblazers in their own way: Campbell was our first female prime minister and in the late ’70s, Kershaw fought (well hounded is more like it) for a job as one of the first men in Canada (and the first in Edmonton) to stand behind a cosmetics counter at the Bay.  “I was an experiment,” he recalls. “They stuck me behind the wigs. I was the Max Factor guy.” The evolution of James Kershaw can be traced back to his youth, when he would superimpose makeup on black and white images in his sister’s magazines. 

Fast forward to 2009 and Kershaw is at the helm of Edmonton’s makeup and fashion scene. Still, he’s modest to the point of self-deprecation—he once told a fan who asked for his autograph at Edmonton Fashion Week to “get a life.” (He later apologized.) “It embarrasses me when people tell me I’m fabulous,” he says. You’d never guess that this is a man with a beauty and fashion column in the Edmonton Journal, his own business doing weddings and home consultations, not to mention a spot on the board of Edmonton Fashion Week. He’s also a consultant for Jane Iredale Mineral Cosmetics. 

Kershaw was once known for the “two distinct personalities” in his work—extreme in the fashion world, but with a roster of private clients who rely on him for their “no makeup makeup look”—but he’s developed his range over the course of his beauty career. Although he describes himself as a “weird bald guy,” his adoring public prefers to think of him as incroyable.  And yes, Mr. Kershaw, you are fabulous, whether you like it or not. Now, may I please have your autograph?     

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