We hosted a very different evening event at Delamar last week, providing students and graduates with an intimate understanding of what goes on at one of the world’s top hair and make-up agencies. As a fashion make-up artist, the goal for many is to represented by an agency like Premier. Our guests were Lindsay Cruikshank, founder of Premier and Helen Lisle-Taylor, a top senior booker who has worked at the agency for 20 years.
Premier now represents and manages the diaries of globally recognised make-up artists, session hair stylists, nail artists and fashion stylists. Originally part of Premier Model Management, in 1994 it became an independent company. With a roster of talent including Mary Greenwell, Sam McKnight, Liz Pugh and James Molloy, Premier’s artists have worked on clients including Alexander McQueen, Erdem, Chanel, Fendi, A-list stars for the red carpet, campaigns for Chanel, Lancôme, Tom Ford and editorials for every magazine imaginable from Vogue to i-D.
With a New York office launched last year, Premier is becoming more global due to a demand for international bookings. Lindsay reminded the students how globally recognised the UK is for fashion and beauty, with many of the world’s top artists coming out of the UK.
“Classy” is the word Helen and Lindsay used to describe their corner of the industry, differentiating themselves from the edgy and often pop-up world of agencies in fashion.
“We like work that is beautiful – even if it’s make-up with lettuce leaves, it needs to be beautiful”. Helen commented before showing the students a stunning lettuce editorial by James Molloy.
First the students learnt was how even the most established artist does plenty of unpaid Editorial work. This is something we talk to the students about when they express their wishes to work in fashion, but it was especially interesting to hear about from the perspective of an agency:
“You need the Editorial to get the Advertising work. That’s how it works”.
Lindsay and Helen still get really excited when they book big magazine cover jobs, despite making no money from this. It could even be considered that Advertising “money jobs” enable more established artists to do the fun and creative shoots. Editorial is a creative collaboration without a client or a brief from a brand. The make-up artists get freer reign to design a look and work closely with stylists and photographers who are in the same creative mind set. This is where much of the truly iconic fashion imagery comes from. For a more detailed write-up on Editorial jobs, we have written a whole post about it here.
Next the students learnt how the biggest opportunities are often the most last minute and unexpected bookings.
“Be flexible” was the main advice given. Lindsay and Helen went on to explain the importance of time keeping, not being too overly enthusiastic or too chatty and always being one step ahead of your artist with how helpful you can be. Cleaning make-up brushes before asked and being at the location earlier than the artist are perfect examples of the initiative required to be a good assistant.
Much like the Delamar agency, Premier is always looking at personality to see which assistants are the right fit for working with specific artists.
Helen remarked how much the industry has changed since social media. She explained how artists are now required to have large social media followings, be articulate and comfortable in front of the camera for behind the scenes filming. Twenty years ago this was not the case at all! It is no wonder that artists like Lisa Eldridge have become social media stars whilst also being excellent fashion make-up artists. Helen and Lindsay both agreed that social media has blurred the lines between who is actually a legitimate professional make-up artist, and who can apply make-up to themselves, in their bedroom. One is too often mistaken for the other!
“You have to be really hungry for it. You have to be willing to cancel your personal plans and family commitments to take certain opportunities. If you don’t do that, this industry isn’t right for you.”
This was reassuring for us to hear, as it often feels like such a tough reality, but it’s the truth. We advise against long family holidays in the summer, as this time of year is the busiest in the industry.
We loved hosting Lindsay and Helen who entertained us with their stories of working on Alexander McQueen’s shows in the nineties and booking Vogue covers for their elated artists. It was thoroughly interesting and very helpful to all who attended. The surprise came at the end where Helen and Lindsay personally gave their card to all the guests, as an open invite to discuss working through Premier.
Thank you Lindsay and Helen for coming in and sharing all your wisdom.
To check out their website, you can click here.