“I see makeup as a way to express how you want to feel or want to portray yourself that day, and if that is in sync with your personalty, then I think it’s beauty”Ellis said.

Due to her reluctance to be in the spotlight, Ellis’ name maybe less known than her body of work, yet Vogue Paris cited her as “one of the most influential make-up artists of her time”. Indeed, she has worked with the world’s most pre-eminent fashion designers, photographers, stylists, hairdressers and models. Ellis’ work has been published on the covers of the world’s best-known fashion magazines. Additionally, Ellis has worked for make-up brands, such as Clinique, Lancôme and MAC Cosmetics – and she was asked by L’Oréal to create a make-up line for their skin care brand, Biotherm. After the contract with L’Oréal ended in 2007, the way was paved for her to create her own brand: ELLIS FAAS.

Just as in her editorial work, Ellis used her brand with the aim to inspire. Claiming “it’s just makeup”, she hoped people would use her products to play around, to try, to take it off and try again, all to find their own sense of style. Ellis never ever wanted to tell people what was so-called good or bad makeup. And like James Vincent recalled in his lovely obituary“Ellis was against trends or any makeup that was more about the product than about the wearer”.

Ellis was born and raised in the Netherlands. From an early age on, Ellis had a good eye for fashion, coupled with a strong opinion about what was or wasn’t beautiful. She plastered her bedroom walls with images from Vogue and would often make her own clothes (sometimes with great success; other times failing miserably). She also developed a passion for photography, especially in the documentary, portrait and over-stylised fashion and beauty genres.

Inspired greatly by the work of photographers such as Yousuf Karsh and Serge Lutens, Ellis decided to pursue a career in professional photography when she left school. While on her course, Ellis kept using herself as a model. Each time, she would completely transform herself with make-up. Increasingly, Ellis started to dislike the technical side of photography, while her love for the more intuitive aspect of make-up kept growing… Of course, make-up was nothing new for Ellis. Ever since she was a toddler, she loved smearing colours on anyone who was willing to be a victim – her younger brother, her friends from school and, of course, herself. In the end, Ellis made what was to become a pivotal decision: she said goodbye to professional photography in order to focus fully on her passion for make-up.

Following a short course in Amsterdam, she headed to Paris where she trained in make-up and special effects at Christian Chauveau’s Technical School of Artistic Make-up. Then, when her studies ended, Ellis returned to the Netherlands where she worked as a make-up artist for various fashion magazines, as well as on two movies. Searching for more creative challenges, however, she decided to move to London where she soon became very successful. There she used her talents for special effects by imitating skin diseases for medical inserts, while her sense of aestheticism drew her to work on pop videos for the stars of the time.

Following the birth of her daughter Flavia, Ellis decided to move back to Amsterdam where she started her own portrait studio, Face Value. Here, she not only took clients’ photographs but also did their make-up. It was the country’s first ever “makeover studio” – and became extremely successful. Simultaneously, Ellis remained active in the fashion world, working extensively with the famous Dutch fashion photographer Inez van Lamsweerde.

In 1999, Ellis’ relatively “quiet” life in the Netherlands came to an end. Photographer Mario Testino had come to Amsterdam to shoot a series for L’Uomo Vogue. He searched for a local make-up artist who would be able to match his concept, looked at the books of every artist in the country – and picked Ellis. Both of them discovered they enjoyed this new collaboration, and soon Ellis was travelling with Testino to Paris, London, New York and Los Angeles. Things snowballed when Ellis met French fashion editor Emmanuelle Alt, who introduced her to Karl Lagerfeld. All of a sudden, Ellis was managing an army of make-up artists and instructing them how to apply the make-up she had designed for Lagerfeld’s shows for Fendi and Chanel. The rest, as they say, is history…



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