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Hidden face behind the glamour

Make-up artist Kim Eun-ji poses for a photo in a suite at Haeundae Grand Hotel in Busan, Friday. (Photo by Claire Lee/The Korea Herald)

Publication Date : 08-10-2012


BIFF is one of the biggest fashion events in the country, on top of being the biggest film bash.

And every actress needs perfect make-up to go with her stunning dress. Pro make-up artist Kim Eun-ji is one of the hidden faces behind the glamour; she has been working for BIFF’s opening ceremonies for the last six years, and experienced the highs and lows of the exciting event.

On the morning after BIFF’s opening, the lobby of Haeundae Grand Hotel is filled with Japanese tourists. They are literally sitting on the floor, waiting and hoping to run into their heartthrobs. They look at those who have the access to the hotel’s upper floors, where the stars are staying for the festival, with clear admiration. They’d kill for Kim’s job, at least during this film fest.

Kim, who has been in the same elevator with countless stars during previous editions of BIFF, is on the 19th floor of the hotel.

“Last night was just chaotic,” says the makeup artist of MAC Cosmetics, in her suite that had been packed with actresses the previous night. Her client today is Pieta actress Cho Min-soo, who has a number of relatively casual events with her fans.

Many would be surprised to find out that there is no backstage for BIFF’s opening. MAC Cosmetics, which has been serving as BIFF’s official makeup sponsor, prepares hotel suites for the night of the event. Actresses arrive in the suites wearing sunglasses, covering their makeup-free faces. The hallway of the floor becomes packed with top actors and actresses, many of them in long coats to hide their dresses from their competitors.

“It’s really for their convenience,” explains Kim. “Most of them stay in the same hotel anyways. After putting on their dress, they just have to take the elevator, instead of going to another location, for their makeup. Once they are done, they go straight to the red carpet.”

Preparing for BIFF’s red carpet requires Kim to try over 100 shades of eye shadow as well as lipsticks on the back of her own hand. It requires studying every actress’ dress, and creating a look that best suits both the gown as well as each distinctive facial feature.

“The back of your hand has the skin tone that is the most similar to your face,” Kim says, “so it’s the best spot of your body to test different colours. I also try different looks on my face and take pictures of myself. Your make-up looks different in pictures so you have to know how they’ll turn out in newspapers and magazines.”

Kim fondly remembers working for actress Gong Hyo-jin in 2007, when her smoky makeup and “strawberry milk” lipstick became a sensation. The actress donned a dark blue dress, which perfectly matched her indigo eye shadow.

“It was my co-worker who created the look and I assisted her,” she says. “I still remember the moment I saw her on TV. The makeup looked just fantastic under the lights.”

Red carpet makeup doesn’t just apply to your face, especially if you are wearing a revealing gown.

“There may be a scar, or a bruise, on your arm or your leg,” Kim says.

“You have to cover those up, because they can turn out to be a lot darker in photos. And you know how people like to talk about those flaws on the Internet. So it can get crazy. You have to check every part of your body that isn’t covered by your dress. So makeup artists like me like long dresses with long sleeves ― the dresses that cover it all. Like what actress Kim Hyo-jin wore last night!”

Kim says this year’s red carpet looks are very wearable compared to previous editions.

“It may have to do with the poor economy,” says Kim. “Everyone wore something subtle, and nothing strong.”

“People are very smart these days,” Kim added, when asked about the response she gets after BIFF openings.

“They don’t just try to imitate a look simply because it looks nice on an actress. They know what looks good on them. So once the red carpet looks get publicised, we get a lot of customers inquiring about specific products, such as a red lipstick or a pink eye shadow, rather than creating an entire look worn by a celebrity.”

Despite working for BIFF for six consecutive years, Kim has never watched a single movie at the film festival.

“It’s just impossible to watch a movie with this tight schedule,” she says, laughing. “But I love coming here. I always get excited before coming. It’s one great party.”


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