Courtney's stage makeup, created by David Hernandez. Photos: Ben Ritter | Make Up For Ever
When I heard that Courtney Love was reuniting with her band Hole for a tour in 2010, I was pretty excited. After all, my middle school days were set to the soundtrack of "Live Through This." So as soon as our friends at Make Up For Ever signed on to create Love's tour makeup look, I jumped at the chance to sit in on a primping session.
When I met up with Love at the Make Up For Ever studios in New York City, one thing was clear right off the bat -- where her image is concerned, Love is definitely in Courtney 2.0 mode, and has moved past the days of the smeared lips and messy-smokey eyes that punctuated her early '90s style.
"One time Marilyn Manson said to me, in like, I don't know '99 or something, 'You can come to my Halloween party if you dress as old you," Love said. "I realized there's been a demarcation between, like, black eyes and smeary red lips [and the more glam, polished image she developed after that] and that had become associated with my look."
These days, her look is more of the blonde glamazon variety, as Love sports long, golden extensions, of which she has a sense of humor. "How are you liking the extensions?" I asked her. "I don't have hair extensions. What hair extensions?"
"When I do need extensions," she continued with a smirk, "I only go to one person, which is a woman named Sheila Stott. I've tried other people and they're all a joke. There's only one person and we all go to her."
And what about Love's signature platinum hair color? "It's high maintenance beyond high maintenance," she confessed. "I go to Sally Hershberger, and I alternate between Sally Hershberger and John Barrett at Bergdorf's. Sally has an incredible hair colorist named Keith...and Bergdorf's has William. Between the two of them, they're amazing."
Oh, Make Me Over
For Love's upcoming tour, she wanted to create a makeup look that would be out of the ordinary. "What we're doing is incredibly dramatic, it's for stage," she explains. After all, it's not a look that works in real life: "You couldn't even pull this off if you were twelve. Or twenty," Love says. As for the inspiration behind the look, "It was based on the first ad for Illamasqua [makeup brand] in the UK," she explains.
Love is spending a lot of time in the UK lately, as she calls both London and L.A. home. "I'm doing UK Vogue," Love said. "I'm doing bridal for Vogue, but I don't know what the editor's gonna let me get away with!"
Now that's an interesting concept...what would Courtney Love wear if she were to wed? "Galliano and I have a pact... If I get married, he's doing the dress. I would probably go toward Galliano and [Givenchy designer] Riccardo Tisci because I have such an affiliation with Givenchy. He's a muse for me and I'm a muse for him," she said.
Love also revealed that she's a big fan of Rick Owens: "I can't imagine what a Rick Owens wedding dress would look like but I really wanna know!" Love said. "I'm his first client. I bought a burlap skirt from him, and I paid him money for it," she says, "I have it to this day."
Throughout the interview, I kept glancing around the studio seeing all the elaborate stage makeup and over-the-top eyelashes and couldn't help but think of Lady Gaga. "What do you think of her?" I asked Love. "At the VMA's I really wasn't sure," she said. But a mutual friend and that infamous Elton John collaboration changed her mind. "One of my best friends is [photographer David] LaChappelle and he loves her. He really helped legitimize her by doing a Rolling Stone cover. He came in like, 'I met this girl and I love her, she doesn't have a mean bone in her body.' She did something the other night [her Elton John duet at the Grammys] and I was like, you know what honey, take the cake, seriously."
What about Gaga's music, though? "I don't think her music is that compelling, but that's cause I listen to rock music," Love said, diplomatically. "I'm an old hippie. You know what I listened to last night? Stevie [bleeping] Nicks."
Of all the things I've ever read about Love, there are many I'd love to ask her about in person. Today, I chose the topic of her childhood Mickey Mouse Club audition. "Did you seriously audition for the Mickey Mouse Club?" I asked. "I tried. Yeah, it's in my book, and my rejection slip is in my book," she said. Love read a Sylvia Plath poem for her tryout -- not exactly the bubble gum sort of content producers were looking for. "It was really inappropriate, but now it's not so weird," said Love. "I think the next time there's Mousketeers, for like the year 2014, they'll have a little goth kid in there. I think I was just 30 years ahead of my time. This was the '70s, you know."
As the makeup lesson came to a close and Love grabbed her bag, I asked if there were any makeup staples she keeps on her at all times. "I keep this [By Terry] lip balm, its made from rose petals," she said. And for her everyday makeup look, Love always relies on berry colored lips and mascara for her eyes: I keep like a light, like a berry sheer lipstick of any kind... that's my day look," Love says. "And I learned this on the first movie I ever did -- I look so much better with mascara."
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