behind the look

Jenny Coombs

Makeup Artist

Jul 2017

On working with supermodel Gigi Hadid!

If it seems as though Gigi Hadid is everywhere, that’s because she is.

From a major design collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger to more ad campaigns than it would be possible to list, not to mention the formidable force that is her own social media presence, the amount she’s accomplished over the last few years is astounding.

Despite her crazy schedule, she still manages to have fun, and bring a taste of her own personality to everything she does. In this video for Vogue Online that “taste” emerges in a literal sense, when Gigi whips up a batch of Yorkshire puddings, coached by her own alter ego – Master Chef Hadid. In fact, she pulls off the concept so seamlessly that you’d be forgiven for believing that perhaps it isn’t an act at all, and British Vogue may just have cracked the case of how she manages to get so much done.

In reality, however, it seems the secret to Gigi’s omnipresence and continued success isn’t a secret twin (although that would be a thrilling twist), but simply a seamless work ethic and dedication to getting as much out of each day as possible. This particular shoot, for example, was held the same day as she was set to attend the British Fashion Awards. “We knew that we had to work quickly,” explains Jenny Coombs, the makeup artist behind both looks on this shoot, “however Gigi is so professional and on point, so we had a great time. She’s super friendly, and has a great sense of humour!”

“I was relaxed on the day because she is such a pleasure to work with, and obviously has a dream face for making up.”

That being said, compared to a traditional photographic shoot, this particular concept presented its own unique set of challenges for Jenny. “For video and runway you have to be super precise, 360 degrees, as there is no retouching and it’s all about movement in different angles.” Beyond that, the fact both looks were being created on Gigi – who would then have to orchestrate a coherent interaction with herself – all in the window of time before she was to start preparation for the BFAs, added another layer entirely, but the team were prepared.

“I had a chat with the director and stylist, who explained the two alter egos,” Jenny says of the brief she received beforehand. “We wanted to keep the “student” Gigi more relaxed, and the “teacher” Gigi a bit more done up.” Though the finished product undeniably presents a clear distinction between the two characters, there is still a sense of consistent identity, which comes down to Jenny’s own personal ability to use makeup as a means of amplifying an individual’s identity, rather than mask it.

Jul 2017

Dr.Lipp is my go-to skincare product, it is so versatile. It creates a beautiful texture if applied onto the eyelids and cheekbones, is super hydrating for lips, dry patches and cuticles. I'm obsessed!

Jul 2017

“It depends on each job,” she explains, “if it’s a general editorial then we are usually creating a specific character for the story of the shoot. If it’s a celebrity or supermodel then it’s definitely important to show their personality, so I like to research and then question the model on the day to see what she usually likes.”

“I love making women feel and look great, so I made sure that Gigi was super comfortable with her makeup looks.”

Though it sounds as though working with Gigi is an absolute dream, client aside, Jenny has every reason to be relaxed and confident in her own right. Launching her relationship with Vogue years ago as an assistant, she has since earned her way up the ranks and landed her own shoots not only with British Vogue, but several international editions of the magazine, including Russia, Japan and the notoriously boundary-pushing Vogue Italia. Her work has also been seen in major ad campaigns, other international publications like Harper’s Bazaar and in numerous avant-garde editorials, which she tells me are often her favourite shoots.

“I love working on editorials because this is where I get to be the most creative, and collaborate with the rest of the team on the shoot.”

“In my early teens I started experimenting with makeup on myself and my friends,” she explains of where her creative passion was born, “and it was actually my parents who suggested that I could pursue it as a career. This was a total light bulb moment for me!” Spurred on by the support of her parents and her own growing interest, she made the move to London at 18, spending three years at the London College of Fashion and assisting established makeup artists to gain practical experience, which she would continue to do for four more years, before embarking upon her own solo career.

As a make up artist, however, the work is collaborative by nature, and Jenny has been lucky enough to collaborate with some incredibly inspiring people. “I am super lucky to work on the men’s shows for Yohji Yamamoto, who is such a legend to me,” she effuses. “He is so creative, and pushes everyone’s boundaries every time; I always learn so much from working with the genius that he is. When I was first asked to do his show it felt like a huge turning point for my career.”

Jul 2017
Jenny Coombs
Jul 2017

That career has gone on to take her through a variety of surreal and exciting experiences, one of which being a campaign shoot with model Stella Tennant, for which she was flown out to work on location in Argentina. “It was my first time there and was such an incredible experience. Such a stunning country, and to work with a supermodel like Stella is a dream come true.”

Looking through Jenny’s portfolio it’s plain to see that she has reached an incredibly exciting point in her career. Her work is stunning, her client base is diverse and most importantly there is a sense of genuine pride and enjoyment radiating from everything she does. She finds inspiration in every conceivable angle, from art and culture to the people in her life, and revels in the variety her job presents from day to day.

Patience, she tells me, has been the biggest challenge she’s faced in building her career. There was no shortcut to success,  just years of genuine, consistent work. That very patience and consistency, however, is exactly what allowed her to create the solid foundation she has today, and exactly why she won’t be losing ground any time soon.

Find more of Jenny’s work here, and follow her on instagram.