Artist In Residency: Harold James Channels Tina Kunakey’s Power Face
Welcome to Artist in Residency, our series that brings the industry's most innovative makeup artists to Rose Inc. for a month of creativity and inspiration. Each week, you'll discover an original look—and the story behind it—created by an artist we love.
Harold James was working in finance in Paris 10 years ago when his life changed forever. A good friend, who was an American makeup artist, had double booked clients and phoned James for a quick favor. “He asked me if I could take care of one of the clients and I thought, ‘he's crazy’ because I had never done makeup, I had just observed him doing makeup,” James recalls. “Just imagine a guy working in a bank, doing makeup.” Still, he didn’t hesitate to show up for a friend in need.
Shortly after James arrived, his friend whisked one client into another room and left James with the other. “I was super scared, of course, because it's my first time and I was sweating,” he says, noting that he’d always loved watching his friend work from afar, so he knew his way around the nearby makeup kit. “She wanted a smoky eye...so I did a smoky eye.” A little while later his friend returned to realize what had been lost in translation: James was meant to bring her tea and keep her company, not start her makeup, but it yielded an unexpected end: “The client was happy with the result!” James says. After a laugh over the miscommunication, a new reality came into focus: James had an exceptional amount of natural talent and his days at the bank were undeniably numbered.
One introduction led to another and James found himself packing his bags for an assistant position in New York for six months, then Tokyo for nine more. “I realized that from one place to another, the approach to makeup is not the same,” he says. “It was the best shock and I decided to take a year off to travel to different countries to understand the philosophy and the approach of beauty to each culture.” Gleaning inspiration in China, South Africa, Brazil, and Dubai, James returned home to France with a new perspective. “It really changed me,” he says. “Even today, when I take care of a client, the first questions for me are, ‘what is your background? What is your belief? What is your culture?’ From that, I can start doing my makeup.”
Fast forward a decade and his risk leaving finance has paid dividends: James’ artistry can be seen in Vogue Italia, L'Officiel Paris, and Harper’s Bazaar; his client roster includes Kendall Jenner and Carolyn Murphy; and he’s worked on campaigns for Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Marc Jacobs Beauty, for which he is an ambassador. For these reasons and more, Rose Inc. is delighted to welcome James as our May artist in residency alongside his longtime friend, and model, Tina Kunakey.
His Residency Inspiration:
For James’ second week in residency, Kunakey handled artistic direction by requesting makeup to make her feel confident and strong. “It's so powerful when you see yourself in the mirror after makeup after hair, and you're like, ‘This is me, but with this special touch’,” James says about the lash- and lip-centered look. Naturally, no detail was forgotten: Thanks to a mixture of gloss and powder, Kunakey’s reflective eyelid is both wearable and stunning, while her ombré lip transcends occasion.
Behind This Look:
To prep Kunakey’s complexion for her power face, James layered hydrating products: 111SKIN Repair Serum and Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème, the latter of which he also finds helpful for cleaning up mistakes with a cotton bud. Next came a thin layer of Chantecaille Future Skin Cushion Skincare Foundation, once again in two shades for a lightly-contoured effect.
“For this look, it’s all about beautiful eyelashes and the glossy eyelid,” James says. “I start with bare lashes and a bare eyelid.” Using standard lash glue and individual lashes, he amplified Kunakey’s eyes by placing lashes throughout her top lashline, and a few in her bottom lashes as well, then added a thick coat of Marc Jacobs Beauty Velvet Noir Mascara to marry the two. Pro tip: Curl lashes first if they are naturally straight. “I love the glam,” James says, but notes that minimal lashes are best to solicit a ‘did she or didn’t she?’ moment.
...it’s all about beautiful eyelashes and the glossy eyelid…
He then patted Danessa Myricks Beauty ColorFix 24-Hour Cream Color Glaze in Kaleidoskope over her lids. A glossy eyelid is undeniably chic, but making it last all day is a challenge, so James offers this trick: “I used just a little bit of brown eyeshadow over top,” he says. “The result is really beautiful because it's kind of natural and easy to wear.”
Using a shade of warm brown that complements Kunakey’s skin, James then defined the model’s lips using Make Up For Ever Artist Color Pencil—buffing the color inwards as he went—then topped with Shiseido Crystal Gel Gloss. “I really want to have this ombré effect,” he says. “But not too perfect.”
Tina Kunakey photographed by Morgane Lay & Jonny Cochrane. Makeup and hair by Harold James. Written by Lexy Lebsack. Retouched by @retouch_club.