Remembering Kevyn Aucoin

Kevyn and I are – I mean were – exactly the same age, and we met at Richard Avedon’s studio when we were both 25. I was making clothes for a shoot, I was confused and intimidated, and Kevyn’s kindness got me through. We were at the same stage in our careers, and he made me realize you didn’t have to be a horror in the fashion world – he was just this amazingly warm beacon of light. He totally reassured me that day.

After that, he always did the makeup for my shows. He was painstaking and treated every face as a specific project. Even though he would have three or four assistants, the models would line up to wait for him personally. Naomi Campbell would not set one foot upon the catwalk until Kevyn had had his way with her.

You could not have worked with Kevyn and not been his friend. I don’t think he had any idea he was going to die. I spoke to him a month ago, after someone told me he’d had a brain tumor. We talked for two hours and he was laughing at the idea of having survived it, of having lived through a brain tumor. I was like, “Kevyn, that’s hilarious!” He talked about having lost hope the first time around, but then the operation was such a success … I mean, you never feel right living in New York, do you, since it’s such a hectic lifestyle? But he was saying that he’d always had all these little ailments, and after the operation they just completely disappeared.

I last saw him at Liza Minnelli’s wedding – he did her makeup and he came scurrying down the aisle, and there was some drama, and I thought, Oh, he’s back to normal! And he looked just gorgeous, young, thin.

Just like me, he was also an ugly duckling, and for Kevyn, well, his life’s work was a product of his feeling physically unattractive, and he rose above it. He managed to assume the power of someone who makes others beautiful. It’s a comfort to know such a nice person could succeed.

Remembering Kevyn Aucoin