Mary Greenwell Interview

My September ‘Woman of Substance' is beauty legend, Mary Greenwell. Having worked with everyone from royalty to fashion's most famous models, make-up artist Mary certainly knows a thing or two about making people look beautiful. With more than 25 years’ experience working at top fashion shows and on glossy magazine shoots, Mary’s clients have included A-list celebrities including Uma Thurman and Cate Blanchett. She did the makeup for Princess Diana for many years, having met her on a Vogue shoot in 1991, shot by Patrick Demarchelier. Mary is a Chanel Cosmetics ambassador. I caught up with her in her London studio…

Mary, on a business note, I attended an event at the House of Lords to celebrate the substantial business the beauty industry brings to the UK. Unknown to many, it is not just a vital contributor to our economy but an area of strong growth too. If you look forward a few years, what do you think will be the biggest change we will see in the world of beauty?

What is happening all the time is a development in the quality of the products. They are easier to apply – so that the most unartistic person can now produce a fabulous result, thanks to the improved texture. And you don’t need to spend a lot of money on products either. Online tutorials by make-up artists and bloggers have also changed the way women now apply make-up. They can be so clever and are really informative. The other real change that I feel will come is a backlash to plastic surgery. Creating a beautiful, natural-looking face can now by achieved with modern make-up – without invasion. The developments in treatments and in make-up itself are wonderful and take women away from the knife. Ultimately, with make-up and a good tutorial, your natural features become your natural beauty, rather than cookie-cutter perfect.

As an ambassador for Chanel Cosmetics and having privileged access to see first hand the latest technological advances in beauty, what excites you about the future creation of cosmetics and the benefits they will bring to us women?

Technology is exciting – the purity of products is amazing. No talc is involved in the products any more – talc-less powder is fabulous and makes you look like you’ve made no effort. With all the photographic retouching since the 1990s we are all bombarded by images that have little reality. We expect to be able to look that good ourselves, though we don’t have someone retouching photos of us and the majority of us don’t have a professional make-up artist doing our faces before we leave the house. Retouching has made women strive to be perfect. The flip-side, of course, is to look perfectly natural – raw and beautiful is the ultimate for me: so people say “How great! She’s not wearing make-up!”. But from the age of 40, I’d recommend well-applied light make-up – it makes you look 5-7 years younger. The older you get, the more important primers, light foundations, BB creams are. Aim for the lightest cover you can get away with to give that ‘no make-up’ look.

So many of us lead busy lives and yet we always want to look our best - both in the outfits we choose to wear and our hair and makeup. I'm passionate about helping all our customers feel good in their Winser London outfits by keeping the styling simple yet elegantly chic. Can you please share with us what type of beauty and makeup regime you would recommend for our busy days that is relatively quick and yet still looks great?

There is a lot of pressure to look perfect. I believe that with a good, 10 minute beauty regime using fantastic (but not necessarily expensive) skincare products, that’s a sure-fire way to keep yourself looking great. It is really important to experiment with your skincare products. There are wonderful new products out every week that claim to lift, plump, minimise pores, strengthen the epidermis, etc. - all with fabulous new ingredients. Try them and replace the old with the new. You can always go back to what you love, but I believe the skin enjoys a change - it responds very well to new creams and oils. We all get bored of the same diet and I think your skin feels the same way! And remember that skincare does not stop at the jawline – take it all the way down your neck and look after your décolleté too. So many women have wonderfully-kept faces, but their wrinkled necks and crêpey décolleté let them down. I always advise that you follow the recommended skincare product steps to the last letter to get the ultimate results. The other rule is to stay out of the sun and wear Factor 50 all the time – every day, even in the winter. Unlike the fun you can have with new skincare products, I don’t recommend experimenting with your make up look. By the age of 40, most women have found what works for them, and once you have found a look that suits you, stick with it – if liner doesn’t suit you, just don’t use it! Have fun with the colour palette - colour change is often enough to appear to have completely changed your make-up! For example a pale mouth to a berry mouth. Have a great hair cut three times a year and if you colour your hair, make sure it’s done regularly. If you’ve gone grey – wonderful – so proud of you! It looks fantastic. And always look clean and fresh, and by that I don’t mean no make-up!

You have already shared with me your shopping list from our Winser London collection, but which outfit might you wear for when you are next with the lovely Cate Blanchett?

I love to look chic, but also to not worry about my clothes – they need to work with me, not hold me back or irritate. I love the Winser London woven legging in midnight navy – so easy! And a crisp shirt with a cute, fitted cashmere V-neck jumper or cardigan in the same colour, so the Winser London cashmere cardigan in midnight is great for me.

Finally, I know you are a real fan of Winser London - what is it about the collection that works for you?

It’s just such an easy, wearable collection every season. It’s clearly luxurious quality. The clothes are so perfect to go from work to evening. I can look chic with a client during the day and then go to drinks and dinner just by changing my shoes and jewellery. If clothes are of great quality you can wear them everywhere – in every situation. The other wonderful thing about the collection is that it is so comfortable and with the slight stretch in all the fabrics I always look as good at the end of a busy day as when I leave home in the morning – and when I travel abroad I arrive looking perfect. As Winser London is sold mainly online it’s so easy to shop – the quality is fabulous and each piece is made with an enormous sensibility and care. You can feel the love - as it’s really there!