Favourite Things: Makeup Artist Kiekie Stanners

By Sarah Downs
Kiekie Stanners, M.A.C Cosmetics' senior artist. Photo / Babiche Martens

"I’ve never been somebody that likes rules especially when it comes to makeup,” says Kiekie Stanners, M.A.C Cosmetics' senior artist.

Over the course of her decade-plus career, the self-taught makeup artist has worked at top fashion weeks (Milan, Paris, London) for major fashion houses (Balmain, Moschino) and polished up a few famed editorials (a highlight was Lorde’s Australian Vogue cover debut in 2015).

Yet, for all that exposure to over contouring and dewy glows she doesn’t advocate following the next wave of a brush. “We now live in a pretty bonkers world of beauty trends. There’s so much shock value or clickbait, it’s confronting for consumers. The more you can shut that out and find makeup that makes you feel amazing is key. If you love it, let it become your signature and rock it.”

For Kiekie that doesn’t exactly mean stripping back to basics; she’s not often without a glam rock 'n' roll-inspired makeup look. “I’ll go through phases of permanently having to wear an electric red lip or dark tobacco eyes. My mood dictates how I wear my makeup. If I’m nervous, I put on my red lip to feel tougher,” she says.

With a background in fashion design, Kiekie came across the idea of being a makeup artist while working for Zambesi after graduating from AUT. “I was totally a tomboy and not interested in makeup but I’ve always been obsessed with styling and dressing. I saw it as a chance to be creative every day and use that to see the world,” she says.

First starting on the beauty counter at Newmarket’s Smith & Caughey’s, one of only two M.A.C stores at the time, Kiekie worked her way up to become a senior artist five years ago part of the brand’s global team based in most major markets around the world.

This month, M.A.C is celebrating 25 years of its Viva Glam charity campaign, of which Kiekie is a proud first-time ambassador.

“I had zero makeup experience or knowledge at the time I decided to try and get a job at M.A.C, totally faking my way to get in. I started before the explosion of beauty bloggers on YouTube and Instagram so I taught myself to do makeup by sitting in a library and reading Kevyn Aucoin makeup books he is the makeup transformation hero of the 90s,” she says.

“With an end goal in mind fashion editorial and backstage makeup with high fashion teams I worked my butt off, assisted for free, and tried to meet as many people as I could in the fashion industry.”

Twelve years on and a love of fashion is what keeps her in the fast-paced industry, especially during the demanding hours at fashion weeks. “It’s a manic, whirlwind backstage supermodels, celebrities, paparazzi, and accessory tables for miles all squeezed into one room. That kind of energy is next level. Half the time you’re on your hands and knees trying to fix blemishes on a model’s ankle, that’s the least glamorous side of it,” she says.

“What I love most is the storytelling aspect of fashion shows; the way everything comes together from the makeup to the soundtrack in this beautiful moment. Then, when I do go overseas for fashion weeks, I get to bring all the trends and excitement back home.”

From left; Wall Plaque and Photography Books. Photo / Babiche Martens
From left; Wall Plaque and Photography Books. Photo / Babiche Martens

My Favourite Things 

1. Wall Plaque 
My nana had this plaque on her wall in her dining room and as a child I would read it out loud to my own amusement every single time we'd sit down to eat. I'm sure the routine reading got pretty tiring, especially because I had no idea what it meant at the time, but it's stayed with me forever and is my most special hand-me-down from her. I think I've probably subconsciously lived by this poem ever since.

2. Photography Books
I'm most inspired looking at documentation of musicians over the decades styling, makeup, energy at its best. Most of my favourite photography books are ones of rock stars, I've had this second-hand Linda McCartney portrait one since I was about 13.

Ceramic Cats. Photo / Babiche Martens
Ceramic Cats. Photo / Babiche Martens

3. Ceramic Cats
I am obsessed with 80's black ceramics, black panthers or any tiger figurines. How I've never smashed any of them over the years is a miracle. It's probably the thrill of finding a ceramic panther in a second-hand store in perfect condition, which is why I treasure them so much. I always think about what amazing 80's house they used to live in.

4. Marques' Almeida Dress
I have to stop myself from buying everything from my favourite designers Marques'Almeida. This is my favourite dress to wear. It makes me sing Jimi Hendrix Fire.

From left; Guns N' Roses Record and Marques' Almeida Dress. Photo / Babiche Martens
From left; Guns N' Roses Record and Marques' Almeida Dress. Photo / Babiche Martens

5. Guns N' Roses Record
Best album ever. Best album art ever. I could listen to Appetite for Destruction every day and never get sick of it. I've lugged my records from flat to flat over the years, and I couldn't ever get rid of them now. I've always loved that side "G" is the heavy gunners tracks, and side "R" is the softer "rose" love songs. Axl Rose genius.

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