It’s 11am on the set of the BAZAAR shoot and make-up maestro Marco Castro is dusting some highlighter onto the model Joanna’s cheeks, while humming along to a tune from a Golden Twenties playlist. With each artistic stroke, Castro takes a step back and looks over his progress with a critical eye to ensure every detail is perfect. “There’s something so spiritual about make-up,” says Castro as he expertly applies the finishing touches to her lips. “Touching someone’s face is so private,” he continues. “You share a lot of energy when you do this so whenever I work, I try to put good energy and vibes to give confidence, especially when they may not have it.”
As a child and throughout his career, Castro has been surrounded by older women. As his talent developed, it naturally translated onto a different medium: make-up. “I was raised by my grandmother and aunts. That’s where my love for strong female leads come from,” muses Castro. “Every woman has a past, no matter what age. It’s something in her eyes. That’s what fascinates me.”
FROM THE BEGINNING
Having collaborated with François Nars for more than 15 years, it’s no wonder why both men of incredible talent work well together. Much like Mr. Nars, who himself is a celebrated photographer besides being a make-up artist, Castro is also an accomplished screenwriter and film director whose films have been selected for notable international film festivals. “If you asked me about film-making or make-up, I think they both came around the same time for me,” he adds. “My first experience was probably film. When I was a kid, one of my uncles had a camera and I used to steal it from him. I would go to the park with my friends or film my family. I would even take it to school sometimes.”
This unique disposition allows him to have a different perspective on both art forms. Make-up, to Castro, is just like directing but on another level, as he finds joy in creating characters through both mediums. “If you gave the same camera to two different filmmakers on the same subject, they would both produce a completely different story,” says Castro. “Like any other art form, make-up is about individuality. Everyone’s work is different and if you give the same brushes and colours to two different artists, the result is always going to be different.”
Take for example Castro’s reinterpretation of celebrated photographer Man Ray’s iconic works, which served as the inspiration behind Nars’s latest holiday collection. “These looks are an updated version of the ’20s. It’s artsy, heady, and mysterious,” he explains. “The lips are reminiscent of Clara Bow and the eyes like Catherine Baba. Think of it as the ’20s in the 2000s, and if I could choose any decade to be reborn in, it would be this time.”
When it comes to similarities between himself and Man Ray, Castro waxes lyrical about the artist for being a huge inspiration to artists across disciplines, because of his exploration of different medias and his love for beauty—the essence and the shape of it. “Man Ray was a multimedia artist, not just a photographer and filmmaker. Today, it’s more common for artists to do so but back then, that was very new,” he elaborates. “He also loved women very much and a lot of his work are of women’s beauty. That’s what the collection translates into: his love for women.”
WORK IN PROGRESS
Much like Castro’s films, Man Ray’s work explores the esoteric and the sensual evocation of intimate emotions through a refined, provocative, and enigmatic aesthetic. Many of his subjects feature highly complex women who are different on many levels, but all strong, thoughtful, and confident in their own unique way. “That’s why he inspires me, not only in make-up, but in video and film as well,” says Castro.
As a lover of film, Castro regularly draws inspiration for his work by rewatching his favourite films, many of which involve strong female leads. “The lead characters in my favourite movies relate to my family. They remind me of my aunt, grandma, and mother—women struggling with love,” says Castro. “We all know a woman that has suffered, has been mistreated by love, or has had a really intense relationship. That’s the beauty of film and telling a story: when it’s well done, you relate to those characters.
MARCO CASTRO’S FILM FAVOURITES
Paris, Texas, 1984
“The first time I watched it, I must have been 14 or 15. My heart hadn’t been broken as it is now, so I didn’t quite understand the movie, yet it touched me somehow. I understand the suffering of separation, the love, and obsession. I must have seen this at least 20 times.”