The path from butcher’s boy in Bristol to one of the world’s most in-demand makeup artists (and star of his own Marc Jacobs campaign) may be the stuff of fashion fairytale but Shiseido’s artistic director Dick Page remains reassuringly down-to-earth. “Makeup was just a fun thing to do with friends for clubs and parties,” says the bearded, tattooed Page, “I never started out with a plan – I just had fun and worked hard along the way, making it up as I went along. I turned out to be pretty good at it and one day it just occurred to me that maybe I could make a living doing it. I can’t believe I got away with it all.” Starting out in London in the late 80’s to 90’s, Page was part of a core group of visionaries that included Corinne Day, Nigel Shafran, Juergen Teller and Melanie Ward who would be instrumental in stripping away the impenetrable veneer of fashion and dismantling preconceptions of beauty for magazines like The Face and i-D. After he'd spruced up a 15-year old Kate Moss for a cover of The Face, Calvin Klein recruited him to work on his 1993 catwalk show where he created a minimalist, barely there look that gave him the title of “king of no makeup makeup”. He remembers that time as something of a blur. “It was hectic and new, I mostly remember being wiped out from travelling and saying yes to every new job that came along. I was the new kid in town as far as New York was concerned, even though I'd already been doing makeup for six years. At some point though, I started sneaking a little more makeup onto faces.”
"Page was part of a core group of visionaries who would be instrumental in stripping away the impenetrable veneer of fashion and dismantling preconceptions of beauty..."
New York was also where he met Juergen Teller on a shoot for Harpers Bazaar, a meeting which would set off a 20-year collaboration eventually culminating with Dick starring with his husband, James Gibb, in their own Marc Jacobs campaign photographed by Teller. “It was one of those ideas that comes out of working with Juergen and Marc for such a long time. When he asked me I thought he was joking.” The resulting images are sweet, romantic and represented a refreshing antidote to traditional gay advertising. “It was a lot of fun! We had no fear or worries, we trusted Juergen and just played around for his camera. It was very romantic and I'm glad so many people liked it.”
His renowned attention to detail and keen eye for colour comes through in his work for the A/W13 season which saw him create a “healthy, clean, chic simplicity” for Celine and “pumped up glamour” for Marc by Marc Jacobs. Away from the hustle of the fashion circuit, Page and Gibb spend their downtime off the beaten track in locales like Iceland and Japan where Page indulges his passion for photography – all of which inevitably feeds back into his work as Artistic Director for Shiseido. “I work mostly from my pictures, which can be of anything. Anytime, anyplace, anywhere, I'm photographing my surroundings and sometimes those pictures find an immediate place in my design work. Sometimes it takes months, occasionally years until the pictures are right for my colour creation.” As someone who started off as a painter, Page is honest about the ephemeral nature of his job. “Makeup is temporary – it’s not like a painting or sculpture. My stuff doesn’t exist until I touch the face.”
Text by Kin Woo