Interview: Nigel Stanislaus

Hristina Serafimovski

Hristina is a media enthusiast and beauty/hair junkie. She watches way too many Art House films and has great (expensive) taste in wine.

Chelsey's Hristina was lucky enough to meet the fabulous Nigel Stanislaus during the Viaduct Fashion Weekend. Through his work with Maybelline New York, Nigel has had the privilege of being backstage at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York and creating the latest looks for William Rast, L.A.M.B, Carlos Miele, Custo Barcelona, DKNY, Wes Gordon and Betsey Johnson.  He has also worked with Maybelline New York spokesmodels Erin Wasson and Kemp Muhl. Here’s a snippet of Nigel and Hristina's coffee catch up!

Let’s start with something basic… did you always know you wanted to get into this industry?

I was always an art student as a kid that would paint and draw and sketch all day long. I would remember as a 10 year old being on the floor on my belly watching Miss Universe and just drawing face charts. My mum didn’t know what to do with me! She asked me what I wanted for my birthday – a bike, ninja turtles – and I said I just want a sketchpad and maybe some more colour pencils! I wasn’t going to be an academic or lawyer. I brought magazines like Elle and Vouge (they were actually my mothers…) I would sit with my mother and grandmother at the salon and I would just flick through the magazines and think “Do this! And this!” and seriously, I was 10 years old! I hung out with women the whole time – my mom had 7 sisters. I knew a lot about how and why they worked and what they’re naturally like. My whole life is about women – I don’t understand how people can get chauvinistic about women – I LOVE women! I think I get women.

So how did you get involved with everything?

I did a fashion course and an internship in New York. That was in ’97, I remember Kate Winslet in Titanic…and the first time I noticed that Celine Dion’s hair was always in the wind machine. I was there [with the] internship for a while and one of the people that worked at Pento (they come and predict colours) asked me one day - “Kid, do you want to come to a fashion show with me? You can see Kate Moss!” and I thought I would do anything to meet her! So I got in and got hooked from then on. I didn’t know how to do make up yet but I knew I wanted to go back. What I did have was knowledge of colour and silhouettes, how women matched their shoes to their dress how they styled their hair… I understood decades. I felt like a curator in a museum. It was the first time in my life I felt intelligent and like I was someone.

Growing up I was never good at sports or math or science but when I got to New York it resonated with me. When I got back home, I thought I have to do this! I had to clarify a few things so I did a graphics course. But that’s how I started. It all started with the face – the face that told a story about where she’s from. I get quite deep into things – I like to make my life fluffy – and the most interesting thing is I talk about Karma and I would guess about 11 or 12 years [after New York], Maybelline called me up from New York and as I’ve always wanted to go back….the rest is history!

So it was all New York?!

It’s where I found myself. Growing up, I have to deal with so much. In Singapore, I was never the engineer or the doctor. I was a bit girly, and sensitive and always felt a little out of place. My family never made me feel out of place but I always wondered “Where am I supposed to be?”  Everyone has a purpose in this world and in New York is where I found myself – back in ’97! It was really good. I came back and thought “ohmigosh” I can breathe! And that is what started my whole journey as an adult. Every time I go back  I discover something about myself – I don’t know why but I learn something about myself through a city. When I come to Auckland, I feel safe! I just get calm and brings out a nice side of me! New York brings the fire out. Auckland let’s you relax.

Tell me about your approach to making someone amazing?

I love colour, I love dancing, I love music! I am just a bit whimsical. Back in the 80’s I wouldn’t know what to do with me as a child! I would see things so differently. When the teachers brought me to the zoo to draw rabbits, I would draw Bugs Bunny because I draw what I think I see. At that point it wasn’t something I Was proud of, but now it helps me to create my looks. I could look at you and go “Oh!” and people might go “No, I don’t think so…” but then they’ll see my vision. It’s great to have that now as an adult to do what I do. It’s a blessing. To all those kids who feel like they don’t really fit in – wait till you grow up! It’s good to be different. Really good to be different. I like talking to kids who don’t know what they want to do. I was always that kid!

What’s your number 1 piece of advice?

My life is only beginning, but I got here by elimination. I tried fashion design, didn’t really like it. Then I did graphic design (3 years in Melbourne) then I spent the next 2 years doing illustration for children’s books! I have 8 books out there with my illustrations! Nobody knows this! Then it came to the 2 year mark and I thought I really want that interaction with people so I took opportunities with make up. It’s not easy! If you’re starting our, for the first few years, don’t even think about making money. People are going to kill me but I would say don’t get a job at a make up counter! Get a bar job! If you work at a make up counter, you can’t get attached to people. You need to assist people and you [should] only assist the ones you truly love. You need someone who will really inspire you and help you go places. Best advice – don’t expect to earn any money! Get that second job and assist someone you love. Stalk them! I have a list of 60 people Facebooking me all the time that’s why I had to start a fan page. The ones who assist me are the ones that harass me the most. They contact me and I say “Yes, yes!” and then they contact me again and I remember them! That’s how I got my in too. I would say “Call me, call me, call me”. But even when you get in, you’re not going to earn any money. For everyone that’s made it, there is a lot of blood sweat and tears. It’s a fun journey but before the perks kick in, don’t even think about it. My mum used to ask me “How are you going to earn money?” I said “I don’t know! I could Tweeze eyebrows for $5!”

But now that I’m here, it’s kind of like the money comes when you do something you really love. I really am having the time of my life!

What do you think sets a winner apart?

Perseverance, humility, having an attitude to learn.  Young people with social media have a very “I” mentality, but there’s also a reality check out there. You can’t cheat the building phase of life. You have to work really hard and be open to learning.

No 1 beauty advice?

How to wear make up properly and when is enough, enough! To me you need to see skin. If your whole face is blocked out – you’re doing something wrong. If it looks like icing on a cupcake, that’s not what skin looks like. Make sure you clean up your skin and find the perfect colour match. When people don’t know you’re wearing make up – you did the right thing!

Have a great lipstick! Favourite colour this season – Fuschia Fever from Maybelline. Such a modern colour! It’s a blue base colour that makes your teeth look whiter. Someday’s when you really can’t be bothered with make up,  it will take your bloody good lipstick to carry you through (Top picks: Red revival – Coral Crush & Fuschia Fever) Top 3 party colours! I always tell women, “I know you’re busy and have no time and you had a long day but when you need to look good, the lipstick will put glamour back into your face!” It’s just like heels! Lipstick is the stiletto of the make up world! It makes every girl powerful!

Common beauty mistakes?

Go easy on the spray tan this summer! We don’t need 6 gallons of spray tan wash off down the drains! It’s ok to have a bit of colour, but fair is chic! Do not use a darker foundation. Use the same shade as your skin and warm up your face with a bronzer. Maybelline has a beautiful universal bronzer that you can layer. They are translucent so you can play with them! I bronze the face (apply where sun hits) but with blusher JUST the apples of your cheek. During fashion week, all the girls that came through are so fair! The last thing we need is Snooki!

Apart from a smokey eye and lipstick, everything else should just disappear. You should look like you’ve just been born with it. I think that’s what makes women pretty. But one great way to make sure that everything blends well is to take a shot of yourself at home before heading out. With flash and without, particularly when you’re going out with a heavier makeup.

Signature look this season?

The lip! It’s all about the lip! And dewy skin. Every show I’ve done this season, everyone wants dewy luminous skin. No powder – maybe just a tiny bit! A lot of women over powder their face but skin shouldn’t look so matte. Blusher and bronzer across the face, mascara top and bottom! Great lash and falsies are amazing mascaras! Add a strong lip and you’re ready to go.

Nigel's must have products:

 - Fuchsia Fever lipstick – Color Sensational lipstick in Fuchsia Fever RRP $20.99

 - Red Revival and Coral Crush Lipsticks – Color Sensational lipstick in Red Revival and Coral Crush RRP $20.99 each

 - Fit Me Bronzer (RRP $19.99)

 - Great Lash Mascara – Great Lash Mascara RRP $19.99

 - Falsies Mascara – Volum’ Express ‘Falsies’ Mascara RRP $23.99

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  • New Member says
    Great advice concerning summer the new glosses. Will definitely be trying those.
    • SLMunro says
      Very interesting read and great advice, will take it all on board! x
    • jewellnz says
      found this very interesting to read,not that i knew much about nigel in the first place, but now i feel i know the person, great advice too, something i intend to follow.
    • erenakelly says
      Awesome advice; almost inspires me to wear make-up again!
    • Nannab4 says
      Will definitely buy the Fushia Fever sounds like my colour, great interview!
    • Mellow says
      An article of wisdom in fashsion for young girls esp my nieces
    • I'm glad to hear fair is chic!
    • H2ORisso says
      He was so much fun! If we weren't under a time restraint, I would have spent all day talking shop with him. He is FABULOUS! And very honest! So ladies - get your lipstick and a touch of bronzer!
    • charmed1 says
      Interesting I never thought lippy was that important, I mean lip gloss yes..smokey eyes and lippy. I'll take that.
    • JoCee says
      Very good - everyone has a purpose in this world - too true!
    • I love to see a glowing face, a little imperfection, and a whole lot of character.

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