Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story

  • Written By:Alexandra Perron, Managing Editor

I want people to know that Kevyn was more than just makeup.

Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford, Whitney Houston, Tina Turner and Liza Minelli. These are just a few of the famous faces that were made up by legendary makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin in the 1980s and 1990s. In Tiffany Bartok’s directorial debut, Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story, we are treated to an intimate, emotional and raw look at how the late artist changed an entire industry.

Bartok’s combination of interviews with family and friends along with Kevyn’s own home videos is a beautiful tribute to an artist who was truly ahead of his time. Below, we talked with Bartok about the film (now available on-demand) and share a deleted scene featuring Sassy founding editor Jane Pratt.

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Isabella Rossellini as Barbara Streisand, makeup by Kevyn Aucoin.

What inspired you to make this film?

My background is in makeup and I always had Kevyn as the utmost inspiration — we all did! I loved his philosophy that beauty was possible for anyone and achievable... and fun. We had a production meeting about future projects, and I made a reference to Kevyn, and our intern at the time didn't know who he was. I thought, “Oh no it's happening...the next generation is coming up without knowing who Kevyn is and what he has given to us.” We decided that needed to be changed immediately.

In what ways do you see Kevyn as being ahead of his time?

The obvious observation about Kevyn being ahead of his time is that he was the first Instagram. He was the king of selfies and was better at it than anyone today. He documented every experience, person and project in his life and shared them with anyone he could. There is no one on social media today who has done anything that Kevyn hasn't already done — without the platforms we have today.

His eye for beauty was contagious and he enhanced any individuality that he saw.

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Kevyn Aucoin working backstage with model Linda Evangelista.

What were you the most surprised to learn about his life through your interviews?

I was surprised and thrilled to hear how funny Kevyn was — his sense of humor was so intelligent and wild. He had amazing wit, and was silly as well. I also had no idea how great his advocacy and charitable work was. He was constantly speaking up for those who weren't brave enough to speak for themselves.

What do you feel were Kevyn’s greatest contributions to the worlds of fashion and beauty?

It all sounds so corny, but Kevyn really did feel that anything was possible. He just showed up. Every day. And gave 100 percent. Rinse and Repeat. In reading his books, this is what always came through for me, and I saw it as a constant in his life. He found the unique and unusual thing about each person and showed us how beautiful that is. His eye for beauty was contagious and he enhanced any individuality that he saw. If you look at a Todd Oldham show for example, each girl is the happiest they could possibly be — they are celebrating their uniqueness on the runway and even though Kevyn designed a uniform "look" for each show, it looks completely different on each woman.

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Naomi Campbell with makeup by Kevyn Aucoin.

How did Kevyn challenge society’s ideas or standards of beauty?

Kevyn would voice his concern for the lack of diversity any chance he could. To reporters, to TV hosts, in print. He would advocate for diversity on the runway and on the covers every chance he got.

Below is a deleted scene from the film featuring Sassy magazine's founding editor, Jane Pratt.

What do you hope people take away from your portrait of Kevyn?

I want people to know that Kevyn was more than just makeup. He loved so many different things in life and cared about and advocated for so much change. He was an incredibly intelligent, funny man and he fought incredibly hard every day to leave the world better than the way he found it.

Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story is available for purchase on iTunes and for streaming and purchase on Amazon.

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