In 2002, Karuna Chani said goodbye to her Parsons educated path onto becoming a major fashion designer. Relocating to South Asia, her credits as a makeup artist include a Marie Claire India cover, Vogue India and Cosmo Indonesia and Bollywood clients Shahana Goswami and Priyanka Chopra. Now taking over Manhattan, Chani is as beautiful as the models and actresses whose faces her artistry adorns and still at her craft.
Someone in the West may not want to do a full on Indian bride look...as someone I know is doing a New Orleans style, big plantation kind of wedding. But a bride may want to incorporate part of your traditional Indian bridal makeup you've done for looks with her particular theme. How can she do that?
In a situation like that, I would discuss with her the elements of the New Orleans style weddings and Indian bridal makeup she wants to incorporate into her theme. Then, we would hone in on the particular aspects of Indian bridal makeup we can use to complement the overall themes, look and feel of her New Orleans style wedding. In general though, nothing says Indian bride more than a bold red lip to make the face come forward and still look classic/elegant.
Your client, Priyanka Chopra, is now becoming a big international star. Have you worked with her for any looks since she's become known in the USA/UK? How would you change her style to change with her new work goals? Not becoming….she IS big already!
Yes, I’ve worked with her on a few different looks varying from professional to evening glam for events in New York. Change her style…wow…that is a tough one, simply because she truly is a fashion/beauty icon that really thinks about each and every look from head to toe. I can say though, that she is a bit conscious of her luscious lips and likes to play them down by wearing nude lip colors. But women pay top dollar to get lips like hers, so I would emphasize them with bold lip colors.
Were you scared when you branched out on your own as a makeup artist rather than a fashion designer...the career you were training for?
I was very scared and apprehensive to branch out on my own as a makeup artist. I dreamed that one day, I would create a lingerie inspired evening wear collection to go under gowns by designers like Naeem Khan or Monique L’huillier. But I soon realized I wasn’t inspired or motivated to create fashion and naturally began shifting my attention towards the beauty industry.
Fashion and beauty go hand in hand, so it was a smooth transition. And I was following my calling, so as soon as I made the decision to change my career and focus, I began to feel the motivation and inspiration I was formerly lacking. I still think I’m creating designs, but now, for my clients' faces…not bodies! After all Giorgio Armani called makeup artists "face designers."
What is involved in the business of being a successful makeup artist?
To become a successful anything, let alone a makeup artist, first and foremost, you must realize you have a passion for that field (hopefully, some talent to go along with that passion); then, you must nurture it, believe in it and most of all, WORK HARD for it!
For makeup artists, they need to have a true understanding of skin types and colors and being able to conceal/correct difficult skin. This is a major problem across the board, but I specialize with olive skin tones from fair to dark.
...and for aspiring makeup artists, how does one get in a major national magazine the first time? Do you approach them?
I hired a very talented and well connected PR company, Noelle Bonner Communications, that helps me with social media, marketing and press exposure such as magazine placement. Being able to release some of the important responsibilities to a professional is key because you just can’t do it all. Prior to this, I was cold calling and doing it myself. My motto is, "You don’t ask…you don’t get." Never give up!
I feel like it's the coolest thing ever just getting to do any magazine work in Indian magazines...and I've done GQ India writing, along with other foreign mags! Your work as a makeup artist has been in Vogue India and other magazines of that nature. What can you tell people about why they should buy other editions of magazines besides the usual UK/Australia/US editions for beauty or style inspiration?
It is so conventional and predictable to purchase the UK or USA edition of magazines. You can’t imagine some of the unbelievable fashion styles and beauty finds you can come across from the other editions such as India, Indonesia, Singapore, etc. Sometimes, I think that other parts of the world actually have more to offer than the US/UK. I often use them as a source of beauty inspiration when I’m trend forecasting, or coming up with new looks for editorials and my clients.
The weird thing about skin is, you can be fair or dark or in between, but a lot of people don't match a foundation the way major makeup companies envision it. Or, women try on an eye shadow and it's horrible on them and looks good on someone else. What's something that works for finding a good foundation and a good basic makeup look for everybody?
To find your foundation, first choose a color that appears to match your overall skin tone, then apply it to your cheekbone to jaw line area. After a couple minutes, confirm that it also matches your undertones as well. Next. it’s time to determine whether your tone is light, medium or dark and either warm, cool or neutral. To do this, try two to three different shades on each cheek, letting them sit for 30 minutes to set and oxidize.
If after 30 minutes of wear, the foundation seems to be close to invisible and natural…you’ve got yourself the perfect shade!
If you’re not comfortable choosing your foundation on your own, it’s best to go to a high-end cosmetic boutique or department store such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Henri Bendel or Bergdorf Goodman. Carefully pick the artist at the counter that is not only closest to your skin tone, but also suits your sense of style. Then, have them help you find your perfect foundation, using the guidelines above.
DISCLAIMER: It’s normal to have two different shades of foundation. One for the summer months when skin has a sun-kissed glow, and another for the winter months when skin is a shade or two lighter because the absence of sun makes skin fairer.
In terms of a great look, you can never really go wrong with a universal cheek color like coral and cocoas and deep dark browns for neutral smoky eyes.