Shu Uemura’s Gina Brooke Did Not Always Want to Be a Makeup Artist

She Uemura’s artistic director, Gina Brooke, shuttles around the world for photo shoots (she glammed up Madonna in W’s March issue), preps her celebrity clients for the red carpet, and, of course, creates the most stunning lashes for the company. The Toyko Lash Bar’s 2009 Lashes in Nature collection (which hits stores in June) is a gorgeous mix of dramatic plumes, rainbows, and furlike materials. We caught up with Brooke the day before she flew out to a shoot in L.A. and chatted about everything from B.B. King to her days as a lingerie designer.

For the new Flower Garden lashes (which hit in June), how did you translate the floral concept into lashes?
I have so many ideas that it can be overwhelming, but that’s the beauty of being an artist and working with corporate. They say just choose one, when choosing one is really hard. They get me focused.

Who was the first celebrity you worked on?
B.B. King. He’s so cool. And Madonna was my second.

What can you possibly do to B.B. King?
I prepped his skin and gave him a bit of concealer.

From top: Flower Garden, Celestial Horizon,
and Deep Forest lashes, all out in June.
Photo: Melissa Hom

How did you go from B.B. King to Madonna?
[Laughs] I ask myself that all the time. I was in L.A., and Jordana (her current agent) asked me which celebrity I wanted to work with. I didn’t know, but she said I had to pick one and I said Madonna. I mean, she’s an icon. Jordana takes my book and a few days later I’m told Madonna likes my work and wants to work with me.

What was your first experience with fake lashes?
I was 7 and my mom had a pair. I put them on, but I used costume glue and they were stuck on for two days. We tried everything to get them off — Vaseline, baby oil …

So you always wanted to be a makeup artist?
Actually, no. I wanted to be a fashion designer, but didn’t make it. I didn’t have the financial backing and it was a struggle that never ended. I designed lingerie and my fit model wanted me to do her makeup for a shoot. Soon after, I’m being booked for ad campaigns and being asked for my day rate.

What products do you swear by?
An eyelash curler, mascara, blush, and lipstick.

You have access to everything. Do you still even shop for beauty products?
I try to find things where people don’t. I travel a lot, so I like to mix products and create stuff.

What beauty trends do you hate?
I hate trends in general. I don’t believe in everyone looking like everyone else.

What was the first designer item you bought?
The first designer item I bought in makeup was Shu Uemura in Soho, NYC, and for clothing it was a Halston dress and YSL shoes.

What brands, other than your own, do you wear most?
The only perfume I wear is Fracas.

Shu Uemura’s Gina Brooke Did Not Always Want to Be a Makeup Artist