“I love this city! The creative community here was always so good to me,” celebrity makeup artist Hung Vanngo tells Hello! Canada when we sit down at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto. “Canada is special. I’m always happy to come back.”
Vanngo—who came to Canada as a refugee and moved from Calgary to Toronto in 2003 to pursue his dream of becoming a makeup artist—is nicknamed “Van Glow” for his blended radiance and counts Selena Gomez, Taraji P. Hensen and Elizabeth Olsen as some of his A-list clients. When he’s not getting stars ready for the red carpet, Vanngo works alongside Marc Jacobs on his makeup collection. The latest launch focuses on creating the ultimate smoky eye. “It’s the most fashion-forward and editorial collection,” says Vanngo of the six palettes that all include matte, metallic and pearlescent finishes. Here, the beauty star shares the key to creating his signature look and the celebrities who inspire him.
What are the new trends for fall?
People have more courage to try colour. Earlier this year, I did Selena Gomez with bright pink for the Met Gala. Afterwards, I saw hundreds of people recreate the Selena look [on Instagram] and I was so happy to see all the interpretations. Every one was so different. It shows there are so many ways to dress up colour without looking clowny.
You take the fear out of using colour…
Yes! A colour may look really bright but you can do a wash, apply a bit in the corner [of your eyes] or use a thin brush to do a liner—it’s about layering the pigments.
Is there one tip that you feel is universal when applying eyeshadow?
Fade shadow up and out, so you always give your eye a little lift. You know, days when you feel tired, you put on an eyeshadow, blend it up and your eyes look more awake—like a mini facelift!
True or false: If you have a statement eye you need a more neutral lip?
The reason we always said that is because if the application doesn’t look very good, the makeup looks clowny. But if you do apply makeup really well, a bold lip with a smoky eye looks gorgeous. I love a deep, rich, bronze eye and a red lip.
So application is key.
Yes, and the tools are important, too. You always need an eyeshadow brush, a blending brush and a detail brush for a liner or on the corner of the eye.
And what about finding the best shade for your eyes or skin tone?
It’s personal preference, but I like warm tones. I think because I work with so many Victoria’s Secret models I find warm shades sexier. The first time I worked with Cindy Crawford was in Muskoka at her cottage for American Vogue’s September issue. Of course, Cindy comes from the ’90s and loves taupe eyeshadow. But her skin was tanned so I did like a golden and bronze eye instead. Her daughter, Kaia, came out and was like “Mom! You look so good!” Since then, Cindy uses more gold tones.
And didn’t Helena Christensen teach you to use brown eyeliner, which is now part of your signature smoky eye?
Yes, she did. The woman is known for her sexy eyes. I like a warm brown colour because it opens up the eyes. I have hundreds of different smoky eyes and over 20 brown pencils that are all different. Sometimes I do use black, but most of the time I use brown.
Besides golden shades and a brown liner, what are other signatures of a Hung smoky eye?
I always try to have a fashion element in a look, even on the red carpet. I did Emily Ratajkowski for the Emmys (in 2016) with that bold blue colour and a very editorial shape. It was different, and we got an amazing response. That’s why makeup is so exciting for me. There’s always a new look to try.
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