Amid the New York Fashion Week frenzy, 4 Pinays bond over their love of makeup

Jessy Daing. Photos by Joan de la Cruz

Jessy Daing. Photos by Joan de la Cruz

By Cristina DC Pastor

A bag of Doritos sat on top of Jessy Daing’s holy mess of brushes, foundation palettes, tubs and bottles of eye and concealer makeup. It was another early day at New York Fashion Week, and this makeup artist began work at 8 a.m. wrapping up five hours later to go to another location to do more makeup.

“Sobra! I haven’t had lunch, have some,” she offered me some chips.

A friend of Jessy’s grabbed the bag and passed it around. Pretty soon other makeup artists were digging into her bag of snacks, their lifeline to another stretch of four to five hours as they headed out to nearby Pier59 Studios.

Everyone in this Hell’s Kitchen studio of about two dozen makeup artists appeared upbeat, exhilarated although clearly exhausted. No one was heard complaining of the long hours standing and more hours of waiting. Some were huddled into small groups while others packed their makeup paraphernalia into rolling luggage ready for the next assembly line of models.

Jessy was one of four Filipinas in this tribe of face painters. With Michelle Estrada, Chary Escuadro, and Paula Alday, they form this indefatigable quartet of hardworking, enterprising Filipinas who work their day jobs and do freelance makeup on the side. Jessy is a Real Estate Information Manager at Goldman Sachs, Michelle works in health care in New Jersey, Chary is an ER nurse in California, and Paula is also in the medical field.

“Makeup is not just a job, it’s a passion,” said Jessy, who is a single mom to a 7-year-old son. “Since I love painting, a face is like a blank canvas for me.”

Chary Escuadro

Chary Escuadro

Michelle Estrada came to NYFW through the Academy of Freelance Makeup (AOFM), a school in London that trains makeup artists and books their apprenticeships. “I’ve been doing NYFW for four years now,” she said. “When I found out I was going to do NYFW I was so excited. I just graduated school and the next day they told me. I just ended up going to every show.”

Michelle holds the title of assistant lead makeup artist to industry legend Michelle Webb of AOFM. “It’s nice that Filipinos are represented but we are actually a diverse community. We celebrate each and every makeup artist of every race, of every community and sexual orientation.”

Paula does more than just makeup; she also cuts and colors hair.

Chary, an emergency room nurse from Fremont, California, has been doing freelance make up for three years. She has done three seasons for Fashion Week, and, like Michelle Estrada, entered through the makeup academy.

“I’ve always been a creative artist and I find creative release in drawing, painting and makeup,” she said. The four of them met at NYFW and, “we just bonded over our love of makeup.”

Michelle Estrada

Michelle Estrada

One of the long-time teachers at AOFM is Michelle Webb, who has done makeup for royalty and celebrities and is known widely in the fashion world. She spoke briefly to The FilAm in between inspecting the work of her artists making sure the quality is ‘NYFW level.’ She recalled working as a makeup artist for a film production in Mactan, Cebu years ago. She came to know from living in the province how Filipino makeup artists could take risks while being artsy and original.

“It was one of the best times of my life, working with talented Filipino makeup artists,” she said.

The four Filipinas consider it an “honor” to be working with the world-famous fashion event. Building an artists’ portfolio that shows their unique styles is just a natural and happy consequence.

“About 60 percent of the makeup artists flew all over the world just to join NYFW. It’s really an honor to be part of it,” declared Jessy, with Chary adding, “Not everyone can say they’ve done NY Fashion Week.”

© The FilAm 2019

Paula Alday

Paula Alday

AOFM’s Michelle Webb (center) with makeup artists Jessy and Michelle Estrada: ‘An honor’

AOFM’s Michelle Webb (center) with makeup artists Jessy Daing and Michelle Estrada: ‘An honor’

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