Priscilla Ono is like the Matisse of makeup. A quick scroll through her Instagram feed is an experience in colour and texture. Glassy skin, cobalt liner and cherry lips are all part and parcel of her technicolour aesthetic. It’s no wonder then that she was tapped by Rihanna, not just as her personal makeup artist but as the Global Makeup Artist for her brand, Fenty Beauty.
Fenty has been a force for change in makeup, championing true diversity and positioning makeup as a form of expression rather than disguise. It’s also changed the way we look at celebrity-led projects. What once fell under the umbrella of tacky and inauthentic now feels covetable and cool. And it’s artists like Ono who are at the front of the pack, highlighter in one hand and iPhone in the other.
All the way from Los Angeles, Ono called GRAZIA in the middle of the COVID-19 health pandemic. The agenda was to discuss the new Fenty launches (cream blush, bronzer and one perfectly glossy highlighter), but she also spoke to creativity in times of crisis and the role makeup plays in today’s society (plus some killer blush layering tips you should probably write down). Find all of the above and more in the complete interview below.
GRAZIA: How are you feeling right now?
Priscilla: I’m in Los Angeles and I’m okay. My family are well… we’re cautious, we’re mindful. We’re just taking it day by day.
GRAZIA: What role do you think beauty plays in the current climate?
Priscilla: In the beginning when this all started, it felt like people were staying low and not doing as much. But now in the thick of it, my thoughts as a creative are that I want to take this time to make helpful content. I want to produce the stuff that maybe I didn’t have time to do before. What I want to do, and what I think beauty can do, is to let a little light in. It can help people feel brighter in a sense.
On my social platform, I’ve noticed a closer bond with my community. I’ve been getting a lot of messages. People want to escape. Makeup can provide that. I’m used to working non-stop, so I have all this energy. It feels good to be able to share it in a different way.
GRAZIA: Okay. Let’s backpedal to the new Fenty cheek launches – the Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Blush, the Cream Bronzer and Match Stix Glow Skinstick in Purrrl. How are you using them? What do you love about them?
Priscilla: They are so buttery and beautiful. It’s the Fenty way though, right? Skin should always look like skin, we just like to add colour and shine and incredible pigment. I think the cream formulation was a huge part of it. It just melts and delivers this natural flush. The texture is incredible and you can layer to create dimension.
For application, I love using the Fenty Face Shaping Brush. It’s slanted so you get a great shape without too much technique. I also find it blends the product well. But of course I love using my fingers, especially with these particular launches. It’s personal preference! Whatever works for you.
Since using them [the cream blushes], I’ve been a huge fan of layering shades. I love to mix Strawberry Drip with a coral shade – maybe Fuego Flush. Rhianna is obsessed with it! We blend it right up to to her temple. And add it to lips. It’s so fresh.
GRAZIA: When you’re working with Rhianna, what’s the process like? How collaborative is it?
Priscilla: Usually for events, she has a fitting and sends me the look. I’ll create a mood board based on her outfit or options. Sometimes she’ll be feeling a lip so we head in that direction, some days she lets me go for it, some days she has a concrete idea. It always changes, but it blossoms organically, we go with the flow. That’s the best way, I think.
GRAZIA: What inspires you to create?
Priscilla: Everything – don’t wait until you want to get creative to find a way to get creative. Save ideas as they pop into your head. I always jot down notes in my phone. I create mood boards. I also get most of my ideas when I work out. If I’m stuck, I’ll go for a walk or run the stairs in my building. I listen to music and think about what hasn’t been done yet. I think about what I want to see… what stops me in my tracks, you know? And truthfully, I’m obsessed with my job, which makes it that much easier.
GRAZIA: What are some movements in beauty we can expect to see over the second half of this year?
Priscilla: Now that we have a little time for ourselves, I think the idea of playing with makeup is nice. We can experiment, try new looks, learn, escape. Honestly I think that it’s a really sad time, and I think beauty can be a way for some of us to pick ourselves up a little. I’m all about doing something for yourself and it beauty can be that outlet, that’s great.
Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Bronzer, $50. SHOP NOW
Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Blush, $33. SHOP NOW
Fenty Beauty Match Stix Glow Skinstick in purrrl, $39. SHOP NOW