Even as a young girl, Bobbi was enthralled by makeup. "I remember watching
my mother apply her white eye shadow and black liner in her blue gilded
bathroom—she was glamorous, but fresh-looking." And as soon as she was
able to work, Bobbi raced to the small cosmetics store in town, where
she got her first taste of formal training.
Bobbi's education continued at Boston's Emerson
College, where she earned a B.F.A. in theatrical makeup. Upon
graduation, she moved to New York City to make it as a professional
makeup artist. She showed her ever-growing portfolio to anyone who
would look at it, slowly built up contacts, and experienced the
challenges typical of most freelance makeup artists trying to make it
But despite the ups and downs, her talent and
drive earned her coveted gigs with top magazines, photographers, and
models. Bobbi began her collaboration with photographers Bruce Weber,
and Arthur Elgort for American Vogue, as well as with the late
Francesco Scavullo for Cosmopolitan and Self. A seven-page spread of
full-face beauty shots of supermodel Tatiana Patitz—shot by Wayne
Maser—also put Bobbi's work front and center.
Bobbi's big breakthrough was her first American
Vogue cover. The image was shot by famed photographer Patrick
Demarchelier and featured the soon-to-be-supermodel Naomi Campbell,
made up by Bobbi Brown. Seven years after arriving to New York City
knowing no one, Bobbi was part of the club. The industry took notice.
Bobbi's Big Idea
As a successful makeup artist with access to
everything in the market, Bobbi found nearly all products looked too
artificial, making it impossible to create a gorgeous, no-makeup look.
Ten years into her freelance career, a chance
meeting with a chemist at a magazine photo shoot changed everything. "I
had the idea to create a lipstick that didn't smell, wasn't dry or
greasy, and looked like lips, only better—and I told the chemist about
it," she says.
The chemist made the lipstick following Bobbi's
unprecedented specifications and the result was Brown Lip Color, a
pinky-brown shade. Nine other brown-based lipstick shades followed soon
after, and Bobbi’s set of lipsticks was complete.
In 1991, her 10 lipsticks debuted at the
Bergdorf Goodman under the name of Bobbi Brown essentials. Bobbi was
expecting to sell 100 in a month. She sold 100 within the first day.
The message was clear: Women wanted makeup that was simple, flattering, and wearable.
The Birth of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics
spread quickly. Bobbi's unique approach to cosmetics was a long-awaited
gift for women who wanted a more natural look. The magazine industry’s
most prominent beauty editors got behind Bobbi, and her small, insider
brand garnered big time buzz.
The range expanded beyond lipstick. Bobbi's
foundations were yellow-based, not pink, revolutionizing face makeup as
it’s known today. And, before long, she showed that she was as adept at
neutrals as she was at bright and bold colors.
This sea change in the beauty market caught the
attention of cosmetics empire Estée Lauder, who bought Bobbi Brown
Cosmetics in 1995, just four years after the company’s inception.
Today, Bobbi Brown retains creative control of the brand.
Bobbi Brown Today
addition to running her company, Bobbi continues to pursue her craft by
creating the runway looks for New York Fashion Week. A permanent
fixture backstage, she works with the industry’s best designers
including Rachel Roy, J. Mendel, Erin Fetherston, Tory Burch and
Bobbi often does how-to segments on The Today
Show and The Oprah Winfrey Show, and her advice can be found in
syndicated columns and advice features for magazines and websites
around the globe.
Of course, you can always find Bobbi where she
began—on the set. Bobbi is still the world's most celebrated makeup
artists for personalities and fashion magazines.