Claude Defresne: chase that dream
With an early love of fashion and beauty, Claude Defresne
is the inspiration for many with his make-up artistry and vision.
Now the International Make-up Artist for leading beauty company Clarins,
Ana Vegar learns more about the man who is helping people celebrate
and feel good about themselves
From issue 22
WITH HIS HANDSOME FEATURES and haughty
vibe, Claude Defresne gets noticed in a crowd. He is responsible
for explaining and designing Clarins’ make-up products all over
His passion for make-up and colour started at
the tender age of 10, where Defresne took out his family photo album
and took to it with his mother’s foundation and other make-up products,
so that he could ‘put colour on the faces of the pictures.’
He was often noted as ‘sensitive’ while growing
up. At 13, a teacher noticed his artistic and sketching talent and
recommended a high school, Lycée Mariano Fortuny, which specialized
in haute couture. After working at the Sephora chain of cosmetics’
stores on the Champs-Élysées for one year, he was
employed by the distinguished fashion house, Thierry Mugler. There,
Defresne worked as the fashion house’s resisdent make-up artist.
As he continued to work for the fashion house,
he became responsible for designing the runway make-up looks working
in collaboration with Thierry Mugler. He then accepted an offer
to work with Stella Cadente, a noted leading Paris designer, to
design all runway beauty looks for all her major shows.
Defresne has been involved in several French
movies as a senior make-up artist, and has worked with such famous
faces as Catherine Deneuve, Gerard Depardieu and Juliette Binoche.
Most recently, he has the key role as International
Make-up Artist and Trainer for the beauty brand Clarins. He is responsible
for designing the brand’s complete new make-up trends and products.
This follows a stint between 2000 and 2003, when he worked as Clarins’
make-up trainer and PR representative
in Iran, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman. There, Defresne
had to learn to work in conjunction with the local culture: there
were times where he has had to skilfully apply eye make-up to women
wearing their veil. ‘In this region, they magnify their face with
very sophisticated, almost theatrical make-up. All of their sensuality
is expressed through their make-up.’
He values Clarins’ emphasis on well-being and
enjoys the mixture of “down-to-earth” and “femme fatale” beauty
that is shown through the brand. As well as this, Defresne tests
all the Clarins products. ‘I try lipsticks, mascaras, eyeliners
… everything! I absolutely need to know how they feel on my lips
He enjoys the emphasis at Clarins where there
is a strong feeling of belonging to a family. ‘I work for a company
that offers me what I need in terms of my personal exchange. Respect
is shown through listening. I adhere to, and have adopted, the Clarins
philosophy and put it into practice every day, even in my private
The master of make-up has his own beauty secrets.
One product that Defresne finds innovative is Clarins’ Fix’Mascara.
He says it has an ingenious waterproof coating, and ‘it doubles
as an eyebrow refiner’, and it brings some colour to the eye brow
to help ‘open up the eye area’. But Defrense announces that the
secret to using Clarins make-up is knowing the skill of blending.
You can make beautiful and colour effects with a few of Clarins’
basic make-up products.
One of the most important aspects of applying
make-up for Defresne is that he never sees it as a mask but rather
a tool to help boost self-esteem. ‘In Asia, I was working with a
woman in her 40s. We were communicating via a mirror. Someone translated
what I was saying as I explained what I was doing. There was real
connection between us. She seemed sad and far away when she arrived,
but as I worked with her how to apply make-up, she seemed to sit
up a little straighter. When she left, she was proud, radiant, and
sure of herself. She had regained confidence in herself. It is this
kind of experience that makes me say, “Thank you,” to life.’
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‘I work for a company that offers me what I need
in terms of my personal exchange. Respect is shown through listening.
I adhere to, and have adopted, the Clarins philosophy and put it
into practice every day, even in my private life’