An Italian superstar who looks like a modern Roman goddess was her first celebrity client, Balmain and Chloé booked her for their fashion shows in Paris, and makeup legend Tom Pécheux praised her for her unique skills. Chantal Ciaffardini has become one of the most successful international makeup artists on social media thanks to her talent, her creativity and her collaboration with the world’s most promising rockband – Maneskin.
In an exclusive interview with VERTIGO Magazine, Chantal opens up about her private life, her callenges as a makeup artist, her first beauty look for Maneskin and her plans for the future.
Yves Saint Laurent once said that his creativity was the outcome of a love story between him and haute couture. Your love story with makeup started ten years ago. How did it begin?
I had some money left and decided to invest it in a makeup course. When I finished it, I gave up my student job as a waitress and began working in a perfumery.
What did you study at university at that time?
Oriental studies, that is to say oriental languages and cultures. I even spoke Chinese. But today, I wouldn’t be able to hold a conversation in Chinese, because it’s a language that you have to practice every single day.
Why didn’t you pursue a career in the field of oriental studies after graduation?
A makeup company offered me a part-time job and I decided to do what I was passionate about. Therefore, I quit the full-time job I had accepted after obtaining my bachelor’s degree.
You began working as a makeup artist in a department store, where you attended thousands of clients a year. What are the biggest mistakes women make when it comes to makeup?
The first mistake is to accept any recommendation they are given in a store’s beauty department. They should ask themselves if they’re really going to use the beauty product they want to buy or if they’re going to leave it in their makeup bag without ever opening it. I don’t have many products in my beauty bag, but I usually finish them and, according to the season, I replace them by two or three new products.
In spring 2017, you worked as a makeup artist for MAC at the Paris Fashion Week, e. g. for Balmain, Chloé and Guy Laroche. What did you learn in Paris? Working for fashion shows is completely different from working in a beauty department store.
Paris is unique, because compared to the Milan Fashion Week, the designers want more makeup – eyeliner, lipstick, rhinestones etc. That’s what I loved most about it. It was not only stressful, but also a natural selection, where a makeup artist discovers in which beauty field he’s most likely to succeed. This experience in Paris has taught me a lot, especially how to create a beauty look in a very short time. Today, I have to work very fast backstage, but I have to remain calm an create a great beauty look in a short time. Obviously, if I work with professional models, the task is much easier than if I put makeup on a normal woman or myself. In my opinion, the inspirations from the catwalk can be applied in everyday’s life, but you should limit yourself to a detail, not the whole look.
For the Balmain show in Paris, you worked under the supervision of beauty creative director Tom Pécheux. How was it to work with such an iconic makeup artist?
He created an amazing look, which is still en vogue today. An iconic and glamorous look that I will never forget. I still apply it. After I finished my model’s makeup, I had to show her to Tom for a quick check. When the model and I walked in his direction, he gave me a signal from far away and said: “It’s perfect!”
Tom Pécheux once said that as a makeup artist, he had to be flexible, like a chameleon.
Definitely. Being flexible means that a makeup artist has to adapt his idea of a makeup to an artist’s personality. Sometimes it can’t be created as a whole look, for instance because the artist wouldn’t feel comfortable. A makeup artist can express himself with his creativity, but he has to respect the artist. He can’t impose his vision.
The first artist who chose you as a personal makeup artist was Italian superstar Levante at X Factor Italy. How did that job differ from working for Maneskin, a young band that was quite unknown at the beginning of 2021? And where did you have more freedom of choice?
Levante and Maneskin are artists with a very strong personality. They know what they want. But they have a completely different style. When I met Levante, she had the same look she has today. A very natural look, which is the perfect look for her. The most difficult part of my job is to explain and to make people understand that achieving such a natural look in a video or on TV requires a lot of work. As to the freedom of choice, it was a crescendo. Once the artists trusted me and understood that I wanted to create a beauty look that suited them and respected their style, they would give me more freedom.
Levante trusted you, because one day she appeared on X Factor with red glitter lips.
It was a coincidence. That day, I was wearing a red glitter lipstick myself. When she saw me, she exclaimed: “Wow, what’s on your lips?” I said: “Why don’t you wear it today?” I applied it on her lips. Levante was amazed, but hesitated. She said that she might opt for a more natural look. But it was too late, the show was about to begin.
You met Maneskin in 2017, when they competed on X Factor Italy. At that time, you were the personal makeup artist of Levante, one of the four jurors of the show. Your collaboration with Maneskin began only in 2021. Was it their manager who chose you?
I had already collaborated with Yves Saint Laurent Beauty, one of the sponsors of the Sanremo Festival, the year before, with singer-songwriter Levante. They had been very pleased with my work. In 2021, YSL Beauty collaborated with Maneskin. The brand asked me if I wanted to create their beauty looks at the Festival.
The costumes had been designed by Etro. Did YSL Beauty and Etro tell you exactly the makeup they had in mind or did you have a certain freedom of choice?
I didn’t know the four band members very well at the time and I knew that I had to respect the guidelines. I immediately got along well with Nick Cerioni, who was the band’s stylist at that time, and his staff. For the makeup, I had a big freedom of choice. After having seen their outfits, I suggested the beauty looks, which were accepted without hardly any change. We experimented quite a lot for Sanremo, because it’s quite rare that artists perform twice wearing completely different outfits and beauty looks. Luckily, I knew the stage and the lights from the previous year with Levante.
Is Damiano the most daring band member when it comes to makeup?
Not really. Obviously, TV cameras focus on him because he’s the frontman. But recently, we’ve chosen more natural and minimal looks for him. What amazes me is the fact that the four band members can wear any look, from a strong and bold makeup to a classic smokey eye look. They all dare and like to experiment with makeup, especially for their live performances.
You love to travel and to post pictures from places you’ve visited, e. g. Iceland, Morocco or the States. Do you have any time for sightseeing or visting a museum when you travel with Maneskin?
No, there’s no time left. Maneskin have a very busy schedule. Press interviews during the day and concerts or TV shows in the evening. We’ve been travelling so much this year that I prefer to travel back to Rome a day sooner instead of staying one more day in another city. Even though travelling is quite exhausting, I’m extremely happy to travel with them. Working with Maneskin is a unique experience.
A few years ago, you presented your makeup school on your Youtube channel. You were very enthusiastic about your new project. Does it still exist now that you’re touring the world with Maneskin?
No, the makeup school is closed. Today, I know that it’s better to launch a project alone and not with business partners. But I always loved teaching and training makeup artists, even for the cosmetic companies I worked for. I have the intention to offer individual makeup courses in Rome in October, and maybe a one- or two-day training in Milan. I prefer to teach only one or two people at a time. It’s a big responsibility to train future makeup artists.
Unfortunately, makeup schools are a big business. When I booked my first makeup course as a student, I paid a lot of money. But what do you get in the end? When I teach, I like to include my experience as a professional makeup artist, not only theory, which you can also find on Youtube or Instagram. I want to train makeup artists who are not afraid of creating beauty looks on other people. Some of them can’t even hold a brush correctly when they start working after the course. I’m proud of the fact that eight out of ten students I have trained work in the field of makeup artistry today.
Aren’t you supposed to be in the States with Maneskin in October?
In October, I’d like to start only with the organization of the courses, e. g. by choosing the dates. I should be on tour with the band, but my schedule is always confirmed at short notice. For instance, I should travel abroad tomorrow, but I haven’t received any confirmation as to the time. Due to the band’s tight schedule, it’s difficult to make plans in advance.
Will you also offer makeup courses in English?
Yes, definitely. I do speak English and I’d love to teach people from abroad. Moreover, I’d also like to spend some time in London and to work there, maybe through a collaboration.
Needless to say that there’s much more to discover about Chantal Ciaffardini than the secrets she revealed in Interview with Maneskin’s makeup artist. Follow her on Youtube, Instagram and her website. More infos about Chantal’s makeup courses will be published in this article once she has worked out the schedule.
Photos: Courtesy of Chantal Ciaffardini, Maneskin, Yves Saint Laurent Beauty, Levante Instagram, MAC.
Cover photo: Doug Peters / Imago
VIDEO: MANESKIN’S FIRST FOUR BEAUTY LOOKS CREATED BY CHANTAL CIAFFARDINI
Chantal’s collaboration with Maneskin began in 2021, when she created four different makeup looks for the band’s four performances at the Sanremo Festival, which took place from 2 to 6 February 2021. The band performed four times Zitti e buoni.
VIDEO: CHANTAL’S LONG SMOKEY EYE TUTORIAL
On her Youtube channel, Chantal teaches her fans how to create amazing beauty looks. In this video, she opts for long smokey eyes in rust. She also explains the advantages of some of her favorite makeup products.