Digital Fashion Week x The Body Shop Backstage Insider: Up Close with Lan Nguyen-Grealis!

November 2, 2014

It has been an intense week for me, juggling work, several events and the start of Digital Fashion Week here in Singapore. DFW is an annual event that celebrates the best young designers in Asia, and this year features many of my favorite local designers such as Max Tan and Pauline Ning. The Body Shop is returning as the official make-up sponsor, and award-winning celebrity makeup artist Lan Nguyen-Grealis is leading the team to create the key runway looks. I was really honored to be invited by The Body Shop to be their Backstage Insider!  I got a chance to sit down with Lan over lunch for a personal chat, and am so inspired by her that I’d love to share some of the stories we traded.

LM with Lan

Originally born in Ireland from Vietnamese origins, Lan was told at a young age to focus on academics so that she may eventually become a lawyer / doctor / music teacher (the “Asian Dream”). As an obedient child, she tried her best in all of it, but her ultimate passion was in the arts. When her family moved to London, she was encouraged by her teachers to apply to Central Saint Martins for fashion design, and was working 3 part-time jobs to pay her way when she stumbled into the makeup industry by happenstance.

Lan Nguyen-Grealis

In just 13 years (a “baby” in the industry as Lan herself calls it), Lan has already achieved accolades that others only dream about in entire lifetimes. Last year, Lan became the youngest person to ever win the Golden Mask Award for Make-up Art, and was also the Professional National Makeup Awards Winner in 2011. She is a published author, regular speaker at conferences and teacher. Apart from working with The Body Shop, Lan is also Beauty Editor at Phoenix Magazine, and has contributed to Vogue, Elle, Vanity Fair, etc. Despite all her achievements, Lan remains a very down-to-earth person, incredibly hardworking, and genuinely nice and approachable.

Lan at work at Digital Fashion Week

Lan preparing host Yvette King for the day’s shows at Digital Fashion Week 2014

Lan is living testimony of how we can all achieve great things if we just work hard at the things that we enjoy. Even 31-weeks pregnant, she was poised and ready to take on a full week of shows. And there is no long maternity break in sight either, as she will be back in the full swing of things in time for London Fashion Week next February.

What is your philosophy towards makeup?

I believe makeup should be made accessible for each and every person, it should be easy to use, and  everybody has the right to look like a star. My job as a makeup artist is to treat everybody equally, whether celebrity or everyday person, and make sure that at the end of the session she looks into the mirror and falls in love with how she looks.

Have you enjoyed working with The Body Shop?

Yes, The Body Shop is a very accessible brand – it is widely available across the world, and the products are priced affordably.  The Colour Crush range of eyeshadows, lipsticks and nail polishes carry some ontrend shades, and the colours apply true-to-pan.  In addition, The Body Shop offers good skincare and bodycare products as well, taking care of all my needs.

What are your favorite products from The Body Shop?

Certainly the Colour Crush range of makeup… but lately, I’m also really enjoying the Vitamin C range of skincare for my changing skin condition.  Also, the bodycare products are really great, especially now as the weather gets colder in London.

Do you have any pet peeves, or “top tip” for the everyday woman?

I’m always observing women when I am out, and there are so many things I sometimes wish I can just go up and tell them!  Sometimes I wish I can just show people how to apply eye makeup, or it could be the wrong foundation shade.  But if there is 1 thing I noticed from speaking with my clients, is that people tend to overlook toners in their skincare routine.  Toners are really great for removing grime from the skin quickly, and they leave the skin feeling refreshed which is perfect for Singapore’s humid climate.  It really helps to balance the skin out after cleansing, and prepares it for makeup.

Other tips from Lan…

What are some of the looks we should expect to see on the Digital Fashion Week runways this year?

The looks are inspired by Spring 2015 trends, and it is all about colour – blue is very popular, expect to see blue winged liners on the corners of the eyes.  There is also a burgundy lip which will be fun for the coming holiday season.  Since it is Spring, things are kept simple, clean matte skin with emphasis on either the eyes or the lips.  The lips will be a very lived in look – rubbed off and reapplied in multiple layers to create a lasting stain.

Digital Fashion Week: Burgundy lips at Toscano

Backstage makeup: Burgundy lips as seen at Toscano’s show at Digital Fashion Week 2014

Seen on the Digital Fashion Week 2015 runway: Bold horizontal brows and cherry lips for Thomas Wee

Seen on the Digital Fashion Week 2015 runway: Bold horizontal brows and cherry lips for Thomas Wee

What do you have planned next?

My book new book “Art and Makeup” will be released next year, which will explain who I am as a makeup artist, my perspectives and philosophy.  With that, I hope to set the stage for a series of books teaching women how to look their best with makeup techniques.


I am very grateful for The Body Shop Singapore for this wonderful opportunity to get a better insight to the makeup and the fashion industry.  I absolutely loved speaking with Lan, and I think she is a wonderful inspiration for young people to live out their dreams.  On a more personal note, I have always been living it luxe when it comes to beauty, and I am very impressed to see the amount of thought that The Body Shop puts into creating each product, which is capable of runway-worthy looks!

Digital Fashion Week 2014 is happening from now until Monday 3 November 2014.  Catch the action live via streaming and check out highlights of the event here.

xo Linda

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