Tom Ford certainly doesn’t do things by halves. His first womenswear show in six years, back in 2010, featured Beyoncé, Julianne Moore and Lauren Hutton as models. He styled a naked Sophie Dahl for YSL's now infamous campaign for Opium. His directorial feature film debut, A Single Man, opened to international critical acclaim. So when you’re invited to have a makeover at his new Covent Garden beauty outpost, you know you’re not about to sit under some harsh strip lights and have contour daubed on while Radio 1 plays tinnily in the background.
In fact, you’re led beneath the main shop floor to an impossibly plush lounge, bedecked with velvet furnishings and oversized bottles of his iconic fragrances. The only sound is his soft bass profundo intoning over the speakers, discussing his inspirations. Kind of like a fashion Mufasa appearing in the sky to talk to Simba. There’s a fully functioning men’s barber chair at one end for wet shave appointments, and a dedicated fragrance lounge in the middle, but where the magic really happens is in the makeup lounge. The mirrors, unassuming as they look, are fitted with something called Memomi technology, meaning they can record your entire makeover as you go, then email you a perfectly edited video for you to dissect at home.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s had their makeup professionally done, been amazed with the bold colours chosen and the benefit of a fresh pair of eyes, vowed to try it at home – and drawn a blank when it’s time to get ready to go out. Fear of getting it wrong, not remembering what products were used or indeed how they were used, often turns us back to our tried and tested routines, with little room for experimentation. Memomi and Tom Ford are hoping to put an end to all that by giving you a bespoke beauty vlog, with you in the starring role, tailored to your every need.
Finally in the hot seat, my artist runs me through the process. Would I prefer the filming starts once I have foundation on? "Some ladies prefer not to go bare-faced, even for themselves," she explains. However, I’ve been familiar with my makeup-free face for 24 years, so give her the go ahead to start right away. The mirror, when in filming mode, has a couple of touchscreen buttons that remind me of an iPad, which my artist taps to stop and start the recording to ask me if I think the shade of the foundation is right, or if I want more concealer. It also splits the film into parts – base, contour, eyes, lips and blush – and gives the artist the power to edit out sections if you change your mind about a particular hue.
I look into the camera as we apply an essence, primer, eye cream, foundation and concealer, then my artist pauses the recording and heads to a different page with a list of products, selects everything she’s used (which will form a regime, also to be emailed), before we move on to eyes. I’m nervous about the vivid orange of the ‘Infrared’ shadow she wants to use, but she assuages any doubt by applying it sparingly to the centre of my lids. I was ready to politely tolerate it but actually, I really like it. Same goes for eyeliner – I usually prefer a dark brown pencil but she persuades me to try black and she’s right; it doesn’t look too harsh.
Emboldened, I let her go to town with the contour and blush: two areas where I usually keep it very soft. But again, I’m pleasantly surprised – the elegant textures melt beautifully onto my skin without any muddiness.
Watching the video back at home is funny. There’s no music, for one. I’m not saying it would add much value, I’m just used to some jaunty ukulele in the background of beauty videos. Also, most of it is just my own face peering up at me. Once I get over how strange it is to essentially watch surveillance footage of yourself (is this how it feels to be a Kardashian?), I pick up on a few things. I usually swear by a Beautyblender-and-fingers combo for my base, but the brush she’s using leaves a wonderfully natural finish. I carefully study the placement and blending of that pop of colour, and bravely dip my brush into the untouched brights of my palette. She’s right; orange somehow works brilliantly on my eyes – which I never would have guessed – and black is a better evening option for me. I’ve also long been curious to try Tom Ford's bestselling Shade & Illuminate Contour Duo, but been thrown by the creamy texture. Now I can see exactly how much to apply and how deftly to buff it for maximum impact.
I’m pretty confident with makeup, but the service would be great for anyone looking to brush up on their skills, too. Whatever you want to master, whether it’s a no-makeup-makeup look, a daytime smoky eye or just a general overhaul, this allows you to have a professional in your pocket, ready to show you the ropes whenever you want to watch. It’s the next best thing to your own glam squad.