Interview: Celebrity Make-Up Artist Michael Ashton
by Katherine Gould
New Zealand born Make Up/Hair Artist Michael Ashton is certainly leaving his mark on the international fashion, beauty and celebrity circuits. Ashton, now residing in London, has traveled his way around the globe working on almost every high-end Fashion Week show imaginable.
It has been his attention to detail that has made him so hot and in demand by celebrity clients including Bianca Jagger, Daphne Guinness, Daisy Lowe, Elle McPherson, Ellen Pompeo & Peaches Geldof. With his name in numerous publications such as Marie Claire, Vanity Fair & Vogue, Ashton’s career is forever reaching new heights.
Currently working with Grammy Award winning singer Adele, Ashton has been her personal make up/hair artist for over 4 years. On a rare afternoon off from his busy schedule, Katherine Gould caught up with him at his home in London to talk liner, lashes & a love for all things luxe.
Katherine: Tell us about yourself, where did all of this begin for you, how did it all start?
Michael: It all started around age nine when I discovered my mothers Nutrimetics case, wet/dry eyeshadow & hot rollers – then after much persuasion I talked my grandmother into letting me do her make up backstage when she used to perform with my uncle Sir Howard Morrison. Later I trained at Servilles Academy of hairdressing before working at a high-profile salon in Auckland and moving into session styling. After spending time in New York working alongside the MAC Pro team and doing the show circuits around Europe, I finally settled in London, which is now my home away from home.
Katherine: What gets you ready for a shoot/job?
Michael: It generally involves having to pack at least three suitcases, with the apartment an explosion of eyelashes, hairpieces, reference books & magazines … A great play-list, some delicious food and an intuitive assistant normally help things along.
Katherine: What is your favorite quote?
Michael: “I don’t regret for a single moment having lived for pleasure. I did it to the full. As one should do everything that one does to the full. There was no pleasure I did not experience.” – Oscar Wilde.
Katherine: What are you working on at the moment?
Michael: ADELE 21 Tour / Christmas Shopping Lists.
Katherine: What products do you like to use?
Michael: I have so many favorites from a multitude of brands – but I can’t live without Chanel Pro Lumiere foundations, Decleor Skincare, Lucas Paw Paw Ointment and Bobbi Brown Gel Liner in my kit.
Katherine: After travelling the world what are some creature comforts that you can’t live without?
Michael: You will never find me without either Cire Trudon or Diptyque candles, Hotel Costes room spray, my iPod/portable speakers, Egyptian cotton bed linen and a great novel.
Katherine: Who are your style influences?
Michael: My personal style has evolved over the years and seems to have settled somewhere between ‘preppy’ by day and European tailoring for the evening – Tom Ford is the perfect example of how a man should dress, classic and understated styling without the need to prove himself to anyone.
Katherine: Who or what do you think is iconic?
Michael: Icons to me are people or things that stand the test of time, rather than only being of a moment. There is a quality that let’s them live on forever even after they’re gone.
Katherine: What are you currently obsessed with?
Michael: Ralph Lauren Home Collection – Real Housewives of Beverley Hills and Cillit Bang.
Katherine: What do you remember most from your childhood?
Michael: Crisp spring mornings down in the stables with the horses and my little dog Nicholas, summer bbqs round the pool with our extended family and school camps causing all sorts of trouble!!
Katherine: How would you describe your childhood?
Michael: I grew up in the New Zealand countryside riding horses and spending a lot of time with family before moving to the city – so I was fortunate enough to experience a life before flat whites and bottled water which allows me to appreciate the simple things, as well as what I have in my life now.
Katherine: If you had your time over, would you do anything differently?
Michael: Definitely not – it has made me who I am today.
Katherine: What surprises you?
Michael: People and Places – you are always discovering weird and wonderful things about both.
Katherine: What are your favorite songs?
Michael: Depending on the mood – anything I can belt out in the shower or dance around to with my friends.
Katherine: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Michael: Drinking champagne in the bath surrounded my scented candles whilst reading Jackie Collins.
Katherine: What has been your favorite shoot/job so far in your career?
Michael: I have LOVED them all – thankfully everyday I get to work and travel with some of the most talented people from around the globe so it feels as if it’s always another exciting adventure.
Katherine: What is your favorite food?
Michael: Modern French cuisine, fresh New Zealand seafood and the cheesecake at Hotel Costes Paris.
Katherine: What was the last book you read?
Michael: The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
Katherine: My wardrobe consists of…
Michael: An outfit for every occasion.
Katherine: What is your nickname?
Michael: M.U.M.M aka Make Up Man Michael.
Katherine: The best advice I was ever given was….
Michael: “Become Your Dream” – Provocative and Empowering!
Katherine: What was the last movie you watched?
Michael: Valley Of The Dolls.
Katherine: Favorite movies of all time?
Michael: Showgirls / License To Kill / Pretty Woman / The Blindside / Avatar and Finding Nemo.
Katherine: Your best style advice?
Michael: Find a style that suits you and make it your own – the same goes for fragrance, people never forget a signature scent.
Katherine: Name one client you really want to work with in the near future, and why?
Michael: Angelina Jolie – she has one of the most exquisite faces of our time.
Katherine: What is one campaign/cover that you dream about shooting?
Michael: Vogue Italia with Steven Meisel.
Katherine: What kind of music do you listen to? (Open up your iPod and tell us your top 10 most played!)
Michael: – Love On Top – Beyonce, Keys To Your Love – Rolling Stones, Video – India Arie, One & Only – ADELE, Brass In Pocket – The Pretenders, Scandalous – Mis Teeq, The Engagement – Alexandre Desplat, Hercules Theme – Hercules & The Love Affair, Solider – Destiny’s Child, Radio Ga Ga – Queen.
Katherine: If you could choose any three things to get for free what would you choose?
Michael: Champagne for everyone. A country house and stables overflowing with friends, family, horses and Dobermans. Louis Vuitton luggage for life.
Katherine: What does sexy mean to you?
Michael: The confidence to have an opinion of your own.
Katherine: Have you ever been star struck?
Michael: There are still a few greats that give me butterflies.
Katherine: Who’s your inspiration and why?
Michael: Anyone who has the drive, determination and belief in themselves to achieve what they want in life, and the ability to do it whilst helping others along the way.
Katherine: Have you ever been in love?
Michael: A heart that loves is always young.