Are you ready for tomorrow’s premiere of the new HBO movie Grey Gardens? I know that I can’t WAIT! Makeup artist Vivian Baker worked with stars Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange to create the ’50’s era look seen in the film and she recently sat down for a chat with a Sensai Advisor to recap the experience: 

SENSAI Advisor: You worked exclusively with Drew Barrymore who plays “Little Edie Beale” in the film, correct?

Vivian Baker: Yes, I was her makeup artist, and I also oversaw the use of prosthetics for the movie. You know, most people don’t realize that prosthetics can be used to achieve many different effects – they’re not just for monster movies! We used them delicately to age Drew and Jessica Lange. I wanted to maintain their inner beauty throughout the process, and not make them appear too made up. These are beautiful women!

SENSAI Advisor: How did you achieve the aging process?

Vivian Baker: We created four distant stages of aging for the actresses from young to old and developed looks that were appropriate for each age. I wanted the makeup to appear natural enough that the look had their own hand; it had to look as if they had applied their makeup throughout the looks. I think one of the most elegant and exciting look was the iconic 1950’s look for Drew, where you really see her radiant beauty.

SENSAI Advisor: What made the look iconic?

Vivian Baker:  The ‘50’s were all about the eye brow…the arch, the strength and the subtleness…those brows said so much about the women who wore them. They were soft yet defined, sexy yet strong.


The 1950’s look was also meant to be beautiful, iconic and indicative of where the character came from. It’s interesting what we know about women and their makeup—just like any woman, Little Edie found her place and her look at an early age, and she held onto it. I wanted those brows to be that charcoal grey and I knew it would be a thread for her character through her later years. The arc of the character was important to the look, to what she created—I loved the color. The SENSAI Colors Eyebrow pencil provided just the right depth of color and movement for the brow line—it was a terrific tool to work with!

I had to move Drew through the ages of the character, none of which she as a person actually was, and I did it through the brow. I looked at her character through her face, and worked with her brows–which really express so much about a person–at all the different time periods and ages we had to take her through.

SENSAI Advisor: You worked with other key items from SENSAI on the film as well?

Vivian Baker: Yes, the Translucent Powder was also evident in the 1950’s look, it provided a nice dewy yet matte look. With the mascara—I chose to use the SENSAI 38 Degree’s Mascara. I had a lot of makeup to get on and off of her everyday. I needed a mascara to stay on and get off easily—38 Degree’s does just that, it doesn’t budget until you want it to.  

SENSAI Advisor: What was the experience like for you as an artist?

Vivian Baker: Drew is absolutely amazing and committed! I couldn’t have asked or wanted or dreamed of anything better. I felt honored to be a part of this production! The entire team brought their A game, it made each us bring our best to the table–everyone was remarkable. The movie is so powerful, it moved me beyond my own experience on the set, and I was looking at the film last week in a screening—for the first time I was able to watch a film I worked on and be enrapt by the movie and the performances, and not just be drawn in to my own work on it—it is a remarkable film with amazing performances!

Tune in to Grey Gardens tomorrow, Saturday April 18th, 2009 at 8pm EST on HBO. 

Image via IMDB