In 1953, Marilyn Monroe asked her longtime makeup artist Allan Snyder to slip into the medical facility where she was quickly admitted after filming “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” so that he could powder her nose. According to Snyder, Monroe likewise asked that he do the very same after her death, and provided him an engraved cash clip to advise him to get to her while she was “still warm.” In 1962, Snyder retouched Monroe’s visage for her funeral, and acted as among her pallbearers. Not long ago, Mario Dedivanovic, who has spent twelve years painting the face of the reality-TV mogul Kim Kardashian West, and who considers Snyder a spiritual coach, texted me a post from a women’s magazine exposing Snyder’s “eight charm tricks.” He noted that Snyder had used Vaseline as a highlighter– Dedivanovic does, too, though he chooses another emollient jelly, Elizabeth Arden’s 8 Hour Cream, which is the color and consistency of linden honey. Snyder was understood to dust the suggestion of Monroe’s nose with blush in order to offer it the impression of being more snubbed; Dedivanovic frequently engineers a comparable trompe l’oeil on West’s nose, applying dark powder onto either side– part of the procedure known as contouring– to make it appear narrower. “Omg the resemblances are exceptional,” Dedivanovic composed. “I typically question what it resembled. I can picture actually what it was like.”
West, who has a hundred and eighty-six million Instagram fans (just five individuals, including West’s half sis Kylie Jenner, have more), has inspired countless ladies to sport the “soft glam” look that Dedivanovic very first provided her in 2008: airbrushed skin, sculpted cheekbones, peachy-pink blush, a “bronzy eye,” long incorrect eyelashes, and fresh highlighter, all “baked”– a market term for setting with loose powder– to a matte finish, like the shell of a cage-free egg. Dedivanovic’s approach is a twist on a practice that goes back to the Elizabethan era, and that was later embraced by the drag neighborhood. Contouring was perfect for black-and-white film, a medium of light and shadow, and was used in early Hollywood by makeup artists such as the Polish beauty consultant Max Factor (né Maksymilian Faktorowicz). It likewise showed, a century later on, to look excellent on Instagram. West began utilizing the app to publish selfies in 2012, and her signature look seemed to reproduce spontaneously on the website: numerous mini-Kims with pouty nude lips (dubbed, with no small amount of giggling misogyny, “duck face”), beige on every surface area, and hair drew back into a bun so extreme that it doubled as an eye lift.
In 2015, contouring was a “priority category” at Sephora, which started to offer a wide variety of contouring “combinations,” featuring powders and creams in tones from vanilla to espresso bean. Some packages came with guidelines: paint stripes of dark color on features you want to recede (jowls, hairline, chin) and light color where you wish to draw focus (cheekbones, the bridge of the nose, the philtrum), then intensely mix. The backlash came swiftly. The famous makeup artist Bobbi Brown stated in an interview in 2015, “When I see contouring on individuals’s faces, it looks like dirt.” That year, Pati Dubroff, a makeup artist for Charlize Theron and Dakota Johnson who now works for Chanel, posted an image on Instagram of a contoured face in development, which was removed like the skin of a lionfish, and wrote, “i would NEVER SUFFOCATE THE SKIN or produce a MASK LIKE CREATURE like this.”
The Kardashian family face continued to flood the visual field. (With the exception of Kendall Jenner, a high-fashion model, West’s siblings all wore the appearance.) Formerly, makeup artists had worked practically in trick; Dedivanovic soon found himself in an all of a sudden public position. West appeared really amazed by Dedivanovic’s capability to mold her face into various shapes, and she spoke often about his work, to anyone who would listen, with the giddy enthusiasm of an university student who has actually just discovered existentialism. When Dedivanovic would casually mention a product in an interview, such as Ben Nye’s “banana powder,” a pale-yellow talcum mixture from a theatrical-makeup brand that has stayed in business considering that 1967, it would offer out, or rapidly triple in cost. (Dedivanovic, for his part, utilizes banana powder less than he once did, having found that the daffodil color, on certain complexion, turns slightly garish when illuminated by flashbulbs.)
Dedivanovic, who is thirty-seven, grew up in the Bronx. His moms and dads are Albanians from Montenegro. He has an angular, lupine jawline and the bifurcated mustache of a young Errol Flynn. He is soft-spoken and, by his own admission, in some cases insecure. He is susceptible to sobbing, particularly when talking about his mom. For several years, he disliked the method his nose looked, and contemplated nose surgery. He did not talk at all in interviews or videos about his private life, and preserved the same discretion with his star clientele. “Mario is most likely one of the only people that I could trust– like actually trust, like ‘Oh, my God, do not inform anyone I’m pregnant’ type of trust, you understand?” West informed me in 2015 by phone, from Los Angeles. “I’m not pregnant, by the way,” she included.
Dedivanovic showed up in the market prior to the advent of “beauty influencers”– online personalities who present cosmetics tutorials on platforms like YouTube and TikTok— however he is arguably at ground no for contemporary Web charm culture. Arabelle Sicardi, a reporter who is presently writing a book about the idea of “charm as horror,” described Dedivanovic to me as “the Venn-diagram middle point of Internet and celebrity.” His client lineup has actually broadened beyond West to consist of other well-known females, such as Kate Bosworth, Naomie Harris, Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayek, and Demi Lovato. He did Lovato’s makeup for the most recent Grammys, where she shed a single tear throughout her efficiency. Dedivanovic, who was enjoying her on a screen from about twenty feet away, informed me that he briefly feared that his “profession would be over” if her mascara ran. It sat tight.
Dedivanovic is maybe best understood for the Masterclass, a live occasion attended by aiming makeup artists, who pay as much as seventeen hundred dollars (when West sits as the design) to observe him doing makeup for up to 8 hours. A natural pedagogue, Dedivanovic informed me that he feels his main purpose now is to inform other artists on how to pare back the excess that he himself partially motivated. He utilizes contouring just moderately nowadays, and never, he told me, on really pale skin. Earlier this year, he taught a group of trainees in a small workshop in Chelsea. “My objective was to get them in there and see the type of work that they’re doing and then help them to sort of raise a bit,” he stated. “And I actually, you know, I went one by one to all the trainees, like, ‘No, do not contour her nose. No, do not contour her chin.’ I most likely redid ninety percent of the eyebrows.” Makeup can be a type of individual expression, but, for an expert makeup artist, among the attractions of the task is the ability to have total control– over how a person looks and over products that require precise execution. What bothered Dedivanovic most about enjoying the contouring pattern take off, he told me, was that it “handled a life of its own”– one that he could not contain.
In November of last year, Dedivanovic accepted the Artistic Accomplishment Award at the 2nd yearly American Influencer Awards, in Los Angeles. West, worn a scarlet Dior dress with a high neck, presented him with the prize. “We have actually worked together for eleven years,” she said. “Eleven years of fights. You people, we combat like, you don’t even comprehend, we battle like sibling and sibling. But he’s produced a few of my most magical memories, and truly, I believe, made me who I am today.”
In his speech, Dedivanovic came out in public, calling himself “a happy gay male.” He stated that, in the summer season of 2018, he had purchased a plot of land in rural Montenegro, where his father was born. “But I can’t develop the house that my dad imagine,” he stated, weeping openly, “since I still feel embarrassed when I set foot on that land.” The revelation might have appeared an antique of another time– however, the following month, Dedivanovic informed me that it had actually changed whatever. “I was always ashamed,” he stated, as we beinged in his workplace in midtown. “In my mind, I remained in a prison.” He no longer wanted a nose surgery. “I enjoy my nose right now– I would never alter it,” he stated. “And I would go naked today, truthfully, in the middle of the street, and not provide a shit. My life has actually opened. Every block that I had developed, every defense reaction that I have actually developed from the age of two or 3, has just one by one been boiling down.” His sibling had provided him a pumpkin pie, and he provided me a slice. “I consume pie now,” he said.
He was also all set to understand a dream that he had been harboring for two decades: to release a makeup line of his own. While some have actually suggested that the appeal market is so saturated that even a major name like Dedivanovic’s might have difficulty drawing customers, he discussed to me that what would make his line stand out was his nearly maniacal attention to detail. Dedivanovic had invested years testing and refining products. A lot of laboratories permit the brands they work with to make three tweaks on a product prior to it is produced. Dedivanovic told me that he had far exceeded that number, frequently requesting for dozens of tweaks.
The packaging for his brand name, Makeup by Mario, had actually been completed when, in March, New York City went on lockdown. Overnight, Dedivanovic, who lives on the Upper East Side, found himself without an earnings. He cancelled his celebrity bookings and scuttled the staying Masterclass sessions on the calendar. The market was in mayhem. It seemed ridiculous to fastidiously dab on concealer that would be covered by a mask. Still, he believed that there was a need for a line that would make it possible for beauty enthusiasts to do their faces like professionals. When things are chaotic, order and ritual become a lot more important. “I’m developing a legacy brand name,” he informed me. “Every product is going to assist individuals out there to repair things and to tidy things up.”
The Masterclass is run by Dedivanovic’s older sibling Marina, his cousin Diana Benitez, and another cousin’s wife, Gina Dedivani. On a blistering day last summer season, Dedivanovic satisfied them at the Bronx home of his parents, to go over an approaching class in Chicago. The house, which is cattle ranch design, in a rural community called Nation Club, smelled of potpourri and fried sausages. Lula, Dedivanovic’s seventy-three-year-old mom, a small lady with a chestnut bob, had actually set out a full Albanian buffet, consisting of a bowl of boiled beets and a tray of pickled cabbage.
In the dining room, Marina, a forty-year-old previous nurse, with straight ash-blond hair and wire-framed glasses, sat at the head of a cherrywood table in a black cardigan, keeping in mind on a laptop computer. Dedivanovic sat across from her in a white T-shirt and saggy black athletic shorts, rubbing the tiny skull of a Chihuahua perched on his lap and fretting about the quality of the projector at Chicago’s Triumph Gardens Theatre. Next to Marina sat the Masterclass’s social-media supervisor, Bana Beckovic, who is not associated with Dedivanovic (although, he told me later on, “she is likewise Albanian”). Beckovic was the only individual at the table using the kind of heavy makeup, consisting of false eyelashes, that evoked West’s. In the living-room, Dedivanovic’s dad, Tom, a tall, gruff male with a woolly mustache, rested on the sofa watching Fox News.
Lula took a seat beside Dedivanovic. “Mario is the best child,” she said, beaming. “The finest one.” Lula grew up in a shepherding family in a mountain town called Tuzi, in Montenegro, a tiny nation wedged in between Serbia and Albania. She did not go to school. She knew of Tom, who worked as a mail carrier, through a cousin. She saw him when he came to ask her dad for her hand in marital relationship, she discussed, and “possibly one other time, in church.” The next time she saw him was on their wedding. The Dedivanovics emigrated in1974 Tom eventually discovered work as the superintendent of an apartment building in the Bronx, where he, Lula, and their 3 children– Mario is the youngest– occupied a small apartment. When Mario was three years old, Lula went to work as a cleaner in Manhattan, in lavish Upper East Side houses and at the corporate headquarters of the cosmetics conglomerate L’Oréal. Lula didn’t use makeup– she still does not– but she frequently brought totally free items house from work for her two daughters.
Dedivanovic remembers an early attraction to the L’Oréal boodle. “I would see an item in the restroom or someplace in your home when I was alone, and I would choose it up and feel it,” he stated. “I would not have actually dared to touch my face with it, however I absolutely swatched and touched and felt them.” When he remained in grade school, he typically asked his daddy to drive him north of the Bronx to see “the beautiful gardens in Westchester,” which he liked for their proportion. “My daddy wasn’t truly keen on it,” he stated. Dedivanovic was twelve when he got his very first task, bagging groceries. His next task was at the Bronx Zoo, where he sold pretzels and was later promoted to supervisor of the hot-dog stand. He then started busing tables on the weekends at a red-sauce restaurant in Little Italy. In 2000, when he was seventeen, he and his mom strolled past the tri-level Sephora flagship shop, on Fifty-first Street and Fifth Avenue. The French international beauty chain, whose black-and-white striped outside resembles a travelling-carnival tent, had actually opened its first outlets in Manhattan the year before. It was a novelty principle: half department store, half expert supply cabinet.
That day, Dedivanovic used to become a Sephora “cast member.” (Sephora’s terms has an operatic quality: the store is known as “the phase,” the racks are called “gondolas.”) He got a task in the fragrance department of the Nineteenth Street shop. Cast members at the time used a single black glove; female employees had to wear red lipstick. Dedivanovic bleached his hair and got a fake I.D. so that he might go to downtown clubs like Spotlight and the Roxy with his new colleagues. Karina Capone, who now works in product development for cosmetics companies including Estée Lauder and Revlon, operated in makeup– what Sephora calls the “color department.” Dedivanovic, Capone recalled, was “this slick, slim blond kid who type of looked like Leonardo DiCaprio, but extremely good, you know?” She continued, “Slowly, I could see makeup was pulling him in. Constantly, when we had a lack of staff on the floor, he was very excited and going to help the clients that were searching for the structure.”
Dedivanovic brought house cosmetics samples from work and stashed them in a Nike shoebox under his bed. One day, his oldest sibling, Vicky, revealed package to his mother, and the outcome was a household argument. “I was unhappy,” Lula said. “Since we don’t know absolutely nothing about makeup. Not those days. I stated, ‘No, honey, you need to do something. You have to finish school.’ ” Dedivanovic ran away from home, remaining in Stuyvesant Town, at the apartment of a pal he had actually made while spending time the restaurant Snack bar, in Chelsea. When he returned to the Bronx, two weeks later on, he shoved the shoebox back under his bed, and his parents did not discuss it again.
Dedivanovic’s very first in-store remodeling on a Sephora buyer took nearly three hours. “I used this pearly-white eyeshadow,” he recalled recently. “And I remember my boss stated, ‘Mario, it’s gorgeous, however it took too long.’ ” Later on, after moving to the color department at the flagship area, Dedivanovic was hired by an agent for Lorac, a cosmetics line established in 1995 by the makeup artist Carol Shaw, whose customers consisted of Nicole Kidman, Cindy Crawford, and Debra Messing. He became a sort of travelling salesman for the brand name, visiting Sephoras all over Manhattan to press rosewood lip liners and tawny blush.