Despite making a name for herself in the screen industry, Gabrielle is still one of the warmest and most down-to-earth souls we have met. As Gabrielle would describe, ‘we’re old mates’; and we’ve been very honoured to share our brand’s journey with her since our inception in New Zealand in 2020 (we’ll save that story for another day).
Gabrielle is a renowned name in the screen industry and make-up artistry world. Having worked as a makeup designer for over 25 years and trained new makeup artists through her business, The Makeup School, she’s deft with her makeup brush and familiar with creating art, albeit on a different canvas.
Now taking on a different canvas, we’re thrilled to showcase one of her personal paintings and collaborate with her to create a limited edition Esse Art Tote to raise funds for charity, Sustainable Coastlines. Read on to learn more.
Hi Gabrielle! Tell us more about yourself.
Hi! I am a makeup designer and have been working in the screen industry for over 25 years. I still get excited when I start a new project and my work has taken me to some amazing filming locations from the Himalayas to London. I met my husband Andrew on a film set (of course) and we have two beautiful children Ilya, who is an artist and Isabel who is in her 3rd year studying Fine Arts (seems there is no escaping the arts in our family).
A big work focus for me over the past 15 years has also been training new makeup artists for our industry. My dear friend and I started ‘The Makeup School’ here in Auckland and have watched so many talented artists flourish over the years. It has been an incredibly rewarding time seeing our graduates fully ensconced in this exciting profession but now we are ready for new adventures, so definitely the end of an era.
You’re an expert when it comes to wielding the make-up brush. What got you inspired to pick up the paint-brush and was working with oil and canvas a natural transition for you?
I have always dabbled in painting taking art as a subject through high school. I considered going to art school but somehow the screen industry grabbed my attention and I ended up studying makeup in London, but always knew I wanted to return to painting at some stage. I feel like being a makeup artist is already painting, just on a different type of canvas.
Gabrielle wears the Lumen Shirt Dress in black.
We’re huge fans of your floral paintings and choice of colours. What inspires your art work?
Thank you! As a makeup artist I am always looking at tonal value and love mixing multiple shades to create my own palette. Being a botanical lover, I take inspiration from my environment and from the garden for sure. I find it very hard to move past greens!
How do you reduce plastic consumption/ plastic waste in your daily life?
As a family we are conscience of reducing plastic waste. There are so many simple ways we can do our bit, like avoiding plastic packaging at the supermarket. It feels so crazy buying fresh produce all plastic wrapped then coming home just to throw the packaging away. Covering left over food with reusable beeswax food covers is easy and we buy our milk in a glass bottle from our local grocer who credits us when we take back the bottle.
There are a lot of things you can do in your daily life that make a difference.
What does environmental conservation mean to you?
For me it means protecting our environment through responsible use of natural resources. Andrew has been using an e bike as his main mode of transport for a couple of years now and finally got me hooked.
When we are out riding, I love the thought that we are responsible for one less car on the road. We are both keen gardeners and over the 20 years in our home have created quite an established food source for our family. Andrew is pretty much in charge of the compost, and we grow everything from avocados, figs, limes, quinces, oranges, pears, lemons, mandarins, plums plus of course seasonal veggies, all in our inner-city garden.
We used to have a beehive co-op with a few of our neighbours but sadly we lost them all. Recycling is also a biggie and especially as a makeup artist where there is potential for so much waste.
Let’s delve a little bit into fashion and your wardrobe. How would you describe your personal style?
I enjoy a bit of variety when it comes to personal style. Casual, minimalist with some boho and occasionally when I’m lucky, a bit of glam thrown in. It also depends on what mode and work environment I am in. When I am on a film set it is all about comfort and practicality, so a lot of jeans wearing and layers. We are so lucky with the designers here in New Zealand, I never need to stray far from our shores.
Which Esse pieces are you loving so far?
Ohh quite a few. I am a big fan of natural sustainable fabrics coupled with ethical practices (which of course Esse is all about). Esse’s pieces are classic and super easy to wear. I can never get past a shirt dress so both the Lumen shirt dress and the Linen relaxed shirt dress are wardrobe staples. For filming the Aude linen overalls, the Multi-tasker pants and Down to a tee would work well! Stylish AND comfy.
You juggle your role as a film and TV make-up designer with your business and with painting. What’s next for you (as an artist)? Let us into your artist dreams :)
With The Makeup School winding down I am embarking on a whole new chapter, which I hope involves having more time to explore my painting practice. I am also about to embark on an exciting new movie project, set in 1824 Aotearoa New Zealand. I will be living and breathing this for the next 5 months but after filming wraps, I plan to start working towards a small exhibition and see where it takes me. Watch this space.
Portraits captured by Cindy Leong.