John Olavarria, Hair and Make-Up Artist: A tFS Exclusive Interview

I met hair and make-up artist John Olavarria (known in the industry as John O) at a cocktail party recently, and I was immediately drawn to his impeccably chic outfit and perfect complexion.

In a nod to what a master he is at his craft, he confessed that he was wearing quite a bit of make-up, and yet his olive skin looked flawlessly natural.

We began to chat, and I was mesmerized as he began recounting a story about doing Jackie O’s make-up.

Since then, he has worked with celebrities and influencers as diverse as Bill Clinton, Kate Moss, and Mariah Carey, and styled the hair of countless models for both glossies and runway shows.

tFS caught up with John O to find out what his go-to brands are, his most memorable work experiences, what luxury item he’s lusting for, and more.

The Fashion Spot: Was there ever a point in your life when you were struggling in your career, where you had the opportunity to do another job that was more stable and safe, but you decided to stick with your passion?

John Olavarria: I think I speak for many people when I say, there always comes a time in one’s career when the "going gets tuff "and you are faced with unexpected hardships and hurdles to overcome.  But I know I will always be doing what I’m doing till the day I die, making people beautiful, one person at a time. Because for me, there is no life without passion.

tFS: Was there a defining moment when you felt like you accomplished what you set out to do?

JO: There have been many moments of accomplishments in my career. Like, when I started getting booked to do covers of high fashion glossy magazines, or when I work with prominent fashion designers to help create and design their hair and/or make-up looks for their runway shows (an amazing honor).

Also, the times I have gotten to work with the celeb or model of the moment, the list goes on…. So to answer your question, yes, I have accomplished what I have sought out to do, but in many ways I have yet to have experience the defining moment.  The best is yet to come.

tFS: Most memorable work experience?

JO: I would have to say working with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. She’s the symbol of international chic. Jackie’s photogenic look and sophisticated youthfulness were copied throughout the world. Her dark lashes were highlighted with mascara, liner, and eyebrow pencil, but very little else. Her flawless skin was seldom powdered, and lipstick was tawny – never red. I have had the good fortune to work with a lot of powerful and influential women of our day.

tFS: Any horror stories?

JO: The fear of waking up late, or missing the alarm clock for an early morning call! There is nothing more horrific than that!

tFS: What are the make-up essentials that every woman must own?

JO: The perfect shade of foundation (Armani), great make-up brushes (Trish McAvoy), and a good skin care regimen (La Prairie)

tFS: Do you have any go-to brands that always deliver when it comes quality?

JO: La Prairie….Soooo very luxe! Love my YSL lip glosses, Chanel lipstick, Bobbi Brown gel liner. I can go on forever. Every line has something that you can extract an "I must have it" from!

tFS: Any brands you categorically avoid?

JO: None that I can think of.

tFS: Any bargain brands/products you can recommend?

JO: I love L’Oreal Lash Out Mascara.

tFS: What are some of the key traits that make a successful make-up artist?

JO: Stay true to yourself and your craft. Leave your ego at home – you should always bring a lot to the table with the utmost professionalism.  You are there to make the vision of the client or photographer come true.

tFS: What do you predict will be the major make-up trends for Fall 2010?

JO: Deep Red lips, the more velvety the better.

tFS: One luxury item you can’t live without?

JO: My Hermes fragrances – all of them!

tFS: One luxury item you’re lusting to buy?

JO: I would love to own and enjoy the Bentley Continental GTC Speed Convertible.