One of the biggest names in beauty, make-up artist Tom Pecheux is much-loved for his playful approach. With a lauded career that spans 30 years, his latest endeavour is rewriting the beauty rules at YSL…
Starting out as a pastry chef, it wasn’t until Pecheux met a make-up artistry student in a Parisian nightclub that he even considered a career in beauty. Now, renowned for transforming beauty brands into empires, he has masterminded the beauty looks behind some of fashion’s most iconic houses. Bringing that playful approach to make-up to Yves Saint Laurent Beauty as Global Beauty Director, he believes that while great product is important, more so is the attitude with which it is worn…
My first make-up memory was watching my mother, a busy woman of five kids, grab a berry lipstick, throw it onto her lips and apply two dots onto her cheeks before blending. I knew nothing about make-up, I didn’t know what lipstick, mascara, blusher and eye liner were – it was all completely new to me. When I started make-up school, the first time I put make-up on somebody, I recreated what I’d watched my mother do. I remember the teacher screaming at me, saying "this is so incorrect, you can’t do that." Thirty years later, I’m still doing it.
My early inspiration sparked from The Palace – the French Studio 54 – and the creativity within. I grew up in the countryside, so coming to Paris aged 18 and discovering nightlife was a turning point. I mixed with insane creative beings; a crowd of people who were just fascinating, not just within themselves, but with their creativity and desire to create. Saint Laurent was definitely a part of that world I discovered.
Freedom is the best word to describe the YSL woman. She’s no specific being; a woman of any origin, any shape or size, she can be romantic, extravagant – whoever she wants to be. Mr Saint Laurent loved everything about a woman, he embraced every single culture and colour – he was able to do a Russian collection, art collections with Mondrian, Monet and all those sunflowers, and he was inspired by Africa. He was able to dress women as men, and still make them look incredibly sexy and feminine. That’s why he was such a master. He didn’t design for a certain type of woman, he designed for the attitude a woman has.
My typical make-up look starts with a little skincare. I like to use an oil followed by a moisturiser and Top Secret Primer, which is fantastic as it smooths the complexion. Afterwards, either a touch of Touche Éclat or foundation in the areas that need it; I use All-In-One Glow for those who need little coverage, and for higher coverage, Encre de Peau is a good choice.
I love the Touche Éclat All-In-One Glow Foundation. It’s exactly what I like in terms of foundation because you don’t feel anything, you don’t see anything, yet the glow is major: dewy, fresh and healthy. It’s a cheater, in the best way. It’s a product that means you can enjoy your night and nobody will know you are tired, because you have a wonderful glow.
"If you want a glow, don’t use powder. It’s often the culprit of cakey-looking skin."
When it comes to make-up, I like adding a bit of edge. Though I’m a disco boy at heart, I love the bright colours, the glitter and the joy, I’m fascinated by the punk and rebel era. I like women who represent danger. But you can’t create danger, it’s a feeling: the make-up look is all about how you wear it, rather than the look itself.
Pink is such an iconic colour for YSL, as Saint Laurent was the first one to make a collection with fuchsia. Pink of any type is interesting and can translate into many different languages. It can be beautiful and sensual like a rose, or like the punk era of the ‘70s in London, it can be grungy and expressive.
It’s the people I’m working with who keep me inspired. I love working with everyone; I remember years ago I did a make-up session in Harrods and it was amazing to meet what I call 'real women'. Their questions are much more specific based on their needs – so that’s when I realised I needed to stay connected to everyone around me.
I am motivated by the happiness of other people. I try – it’s not easy every day – to keep on smiling and to be happy to work. Even if sometimes I could destroy my alarm clock, no matter what day it is, I want the person sitting in my chair to leave that chair happy. What gives me happiness is not my make-up, it’s the smile on the face of the woman that I’ve just worked on.