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Gregoris Pyrpylis

Interview with a make-up artist of Olympian charm and composure.  

What informs your work? What inspires you? 
When I’m working on the make-up for a magazine shoot, I’m part of a team and we follow a brief defined by the creative director. In this case I’m inspired by what the designer had in mind and by the people around me.
I like simplicity above all else, I shy away from excess and seek to achieve a minimalist look. Accordingly, I prefer to travel to quiet, peaceful places like Nepal. In such places, I arrive at a state of calm, such that, at a certain point, a sense of complete clarity settles in my mind and a space opens up where new ideas come to me.

Who are your role models – personally and professionally? 
The first person that comes to mind is my mentor, Tom Pécheux. I was fortunate to be his assistant for three years; I was lucky – not many people get to realise their dreams; mine was to be his assistant while I was still living in Greece. There are artists as well, like the fashion designer Raf Simons whose handling of colour and shapes moves me, or the photographer Herb Ritts whose images made me fall in love with fashion and beauty. 

What compliment about your work would you like to hear, or hear again? 
That my work is invisible, even when we’re talking about red lips or smoky eyes. I aim for naturalness in the sense that the make-up is part of the person, of their fundamental nature to be precise, of what they want to reveal, or not reveal, about their body or even their soul.

Is there a city or a destination that inspires you or speaks to you? 
I would most probably say a small island in the Cyclades, such as Folegandros. I nearly always spend the whole month of August there. The combination of the light, the architecture, the air and the landscape makes me feel as if my soul is set free, I feel extremely happy and unencumbered there. 

How would you describe your approach to life? 
I try to live a normal, very simple life. I don’t want to attach myself to objects, to material things. I prefer people to things. As long as I live, I will always treat others with respect; in my book, good manners are one of the keys to happiness. I need flow, peace and quiet and gentleness in my life. So I try to surround myself with nice, sincere people with simple values. Kindness is such a beautiful thing.

What are your favourite subjects when it comes to your creative approach? 
There is a colour I really like that is somewhat underrated in make-up nowadays, and that is white. White is applied in small touches, and the light it brings can literally change everything and add something imperceptible and contemporary. I like to develop the natural side – by that I mean the person’s nature – with a slight twist.

Who have you dreamed of being able to make up? 
Meryl Streep, without hesitation. From head to toe! I love everything about that woman – her work as an actress, what she says when interviewed, her profound humanity. I’d have like to paint her with liquid gold, to make a kind of Oscar statuette out of her. To express visually that golden aura that emanates from her. 

What is your signature in make-up?
I think the people who I’ve been fortunate enough to work with would say that my make-up looks effortless even though they involve an enormous amount of work on my part. That’s precisely what I am looking for. I want people to say “she looks radiant” rather than “her make-up is fantastic”. What motivates me every time is the challenge of adapting to the person I’m making up, identifying their good points and highlighting them. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another; you have to adapt not just to the person’s morphology but also to their psychology and how they feel. Some people can carry off a bold statement such as bright-red lips while others can’t. It all comes down to the nature of the person. To wearing what has been done for the person rather than the ‘done thing’. Make-up should reveal the truth of someone rather than mask it.

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced or have yet to face as a make-up artist? 
I am very proud to be collaborating between now and the summer with a major brand, but I can’t say more at the moment. And I dream of one day being creative director for a make-up brand, designing products, defining textures, developing colours – that would be fantastic.

Do you have a ritual in your work? 
Before starting work, I lay out everything I need in a specific order extremely consistently; it takes time but it’s my way of relaxing and focusing. There is also the business of preparing the skin which is a kind of ritual – massaging, cleansing, to restore radiance so you use the smallest amount of make-up possible. 
A make-up session should be a luxurious experience. It’s important to be in the moment, whether it lasts five minutes or half an hour. Appreciating this time is as important as the result.

What about make-up annoys you? 
Standardisation. Wanting to make up everyone the same, in spite of their differences. One should never fall into that trap. 

Have you always wanted to be a make-up artist? 
I have always looked for beauty, for what is aesthetically appealing. Even as a small boy, I was quite demanding, whether it was a question of my hair, my clothes or the décor in the house. However, my dream, up until I was 18, was to be an English teacher. And then I met my best friend and she introduced me to make-up, and that’s how I decided to express myself. If I had met someone else I would most probably have done something else, but still related to aesthetics… I might have been an architect or a designer, who knows…

Do you have a favourite place where you go a lot?
I like to sit on a bench in the Palais-Royal gardens, listening to music or simply people-watching. It’s a place I find energising, where I feel good.

What’s your favourite object? How much does it weigh? 
For the past five years I’ve worn a red string bracelet with a tiny golden shell on it which reminds me of Greece.

What holds weight in your life? 
The people around me, family and friends. And I’d also say health because it goes hand in hand with peace of mind.

Which LE GRAMME objects do you own? How do you wear them?
I started with the 7g brushed which I wear all the time on my right wrist. It’s symbolic – the one I love wears the same. I also have the 21g polished which I wear with my 7g.
I like the serenity and tranquillity of LE GRAMME, the perfect line encircling the wrist, the simplified design that becomes personal to the wearer. The brand exudes great composure. I regularly touch my bracelets, automatically and sometimes without realising; it relaxes me and reassures me, a bit like a talisman.

If you could give a new form to LE GRAMME, what would it be? 
I would put a little touch of highlighter on naked skin. A touch of light on one part of the face, a minimal sign, elegant and fluid, like a piece of architecture.

Photographer: Amit Israeli
Stylist: Elodie David-Touboul

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