Celebrity makeup artist Michael Ashton has left Los Angeles and returned to Auckland after California's "stay at home" order was extended - potentially through until late July or August.

Ashton is based in LA but jetsets on shoots to the global fashion and celebrity capitals. He is most famous for being the makeup artist for singing superstar Adele and creating her dramatic cat-eye look. She famously sang him Happy Birthday at her concert at Mt Smart in 2017.

He has worked with some of the biggest names in the business including, singer Nicole Scherzinger, actresses Lea Michele, Penelope Cruz and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio.

"The entertainment industry as a whole has been hugely affected like many others," Ashton tells Spy. "With international film festivals, red-carpet events, press junkets and productions having been either cancelled or put on hold for the foreseeable future, a lot of my work in recent months has been with brand partners creating digital content remotely."

Michael Ashton with Adele Supplied Spy May 2020
Michael Ashton with Adele Supplied Spy May 2020

Ashton's New Zealand return is likely to be temporary.

"I thought it was the perfect time to come back home to New Zealand for a couple of months to spend time with family and friends. As they say, there is no place like home.

"Having watched from abroad, I feel immensely proud of how New Zealand as a nation has managed Covid-19 and especially the incredible and compassionate leadership from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern."

In LA lockdown Ashton spent time on personal and professional projects for which he wouldn't normally have time.

"I started self-isolating in early March before the official 'stay at home' order went into place, so by the time I flew out of Los Angeles to New Zealand last week I was already on to day 70."

Michael Ashton Supplied Spy May 2020
Michael Ashton Supplied Spy May 2020

Back home, he is enjoying quarantine nights on the couch catching up on Shortland Street - and enjoying face masks and bubble baths, his own Slip Silk pillowcases and his favourite scented candles.

"Having spent so much of my life travelling and in hotels for work, they're little things that make anywhere feel instantly cosy."

Once free, he will spend the majority of his time catching up with family and friends as well as supporting all his favourite spots, such as SPQR and Prego in Ponsonby.


As for the new normal in his industry, Ashton says it's hard to predict when things will return to something like normal.

"The creative industries have always been incredibly resilient and inventive so I think there will definitely be changes but I'm excited to see how it adapts," he says.

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