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“Why Wear Pants When You Could Be Wearing A Muu Muu?” And Other Words Of Wisdom From Beth Ditto


In case you’ve somehow missed the Fashion’s Night Out flags flying high above streets from Fifth Avenue to Flatbush, the third annual one-night-only shopping extravaganza in which designers make public appearances, models sign limited-edition bottles of fragrance, and free Champagne spills onto the streets is upon us tomorrow night. Beautywise, there are a few not-to-be-missed events: manicures at Chanel boutiques with creative makeup director Peter Philips’ limited-edition Les Jeans de Chanel blue lacquers; the customized Make Up For Ever lash bar at the Louboutin store in the West Village; NARS’ limited-edition, pewter-hued Silver Odyssey collection at the brand’s flagship on Bleecker Street; and makeovers and a sneak peek at Tom Ford’s debut color collection at Saks.

Whether or not we’ll be able to hit up all of these destinations depends on just how long we end up hanging out at MAC’s Spring Street store in Soho, however, where Gossip front woman and friend-of-fashion Beth Ditto will be taking the stage at 8 p.m. Ditto, who’s currently recording in London, is making a cameo stateside to belt out some tunes—and to restock on her favorites from the makeup brand, of course. “I take this shit seriously,” the Arkansas native says of her beauty routine. The self-proclaimed “makeup collector” has a bevy of must-haves—and tips and tricks to boot. In fact, when we recently caught up with the singer to talk beauty icons, designer crushes, and her fashion week calendar, she managed to school us with her skincare knowledge. Needless to say, we’re impressed.

You’re obviously a big supporter of the black cat-eye. How did you develop your love for makeup?

I don’t how it happened, really. When I was younger I remember scanning the aisles of Wal-Mart for all the new makeup and flipping through the Avon catalog—I was all over that. Part of it was growing up in the nineties. There was a big sixties resurgence when the Riot Grrrl thing came around and Arkansas was really behind the times, so girls in the punk scene still had really big bangs, and bouffants and cat-eyes were a big deal. The cat-eye thing was something I always did discreetly, though, because when I came out as a lesbian, it wasn’t cool to wear makeup, so I would go into the bathroom and put on this immaculate eyeliner in private.

What about your obsession with strong brows? Where does that come from?

Priscilla Presley was always a beauty icon of mine—have you seen her hair and eyebrows?—so I was always obsessed with my brows, or lack thereof. I’m actually blonde naturally, so you either have to shave them off, or make them stronger. I became a connoisseur at lining my brows!

What would you say are you beauty essentials—the things you just can’t live without?

I consider myself a makeup collector like other people are record collectors. My go-to is always MAC Liquidlast Liner. You’ll never see me without it. It’s the best thing ever invented. And I don’t go anywhere without Almay’s $3 eye makeup-remover pads—the blue ones. If you wear waterproof makeup, they’re amazing. You can’t get them in London, so last time I was home, I bought, like, all of them from the Walgreens. I also always have MAC’s Eye Brows in Stud and its Eyeshadow in Carbon that I put on the top of the liner to set my brows. I also use DiorShow Black Out Mascara and an eyelash curler—I just use one from Revlon.

Are you as diligent about your skincare routine as your makeup routine?

My friend recently said to me, “No matter how belligerently drunk you are, you always take your makeup off, even if you can’t form a sentence. You tone, put your eye cream on, and put on your face cream.” [Laughs.]

Now that’s dedication! What do you use?

I use Yonka. If you don’t use anything else from the line, the toner is a must—it’ll last you for a good six months. I order them in tens! There’s one thing I need to say, though.

What’s that?

If you don’t exfoliate three times a week with a mild exfoliator, you’re not going to absorb the toner’s benefit. I take this shit seriously!

Tell me more about Yonka. How did you get turned on to it?

I was actually at a spa—not even a super-duper fancy one. It was a hippie-dippie spa in Oregon with healing waters. They were using the line there. I am a junkie about it. Clarins is my second runner-up. And SK-II is also awesome.

Are there two Beth Ditto beauty looks—one for onstage and one for off—or are you a “what you see, is what you get” kind of gal?

It depends on where I’m going. I’ll tell you right now, I never leave the house without eyeliner. It’s just what I like to do. If I’m going out, like dancing or something, there’s probably a little more eyeliner, but no matter what I’m doing you’re going to see a ton of eyeliner—even when I’m cleaning the house. I just like wearing makeup. It makes me feel more motivated.

Are there any precautions you take with your makeup before playing a show—i.e., do occupational hazards like dancing, sweating, and hot stage lights factor into what you choose to put on your face?

For someone who seemingly has a low-maintenance, laid-back kind of style, there are a lot of things I won’t do onstage: I won’t wear heels and I don’t really wear pants—why wear pants when you could be wearing a muu muu? I like to be really comfortable with my clothes so I let the makeup do the wildness. Even when it looks bad, that could also be good.

You’ve designed a line for Evans, posed nude on the cover of Love, and walked the runway for Jean Paul Gaultier. What’s next for you fashion-wise?

Well, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for Gaultier. I don’t know if I love fashion but I love creative people and the creative process—seeing how much work goes into something like a fashion show that only lasts for five minutes. As far as my plans go, there’s always something in the works.

What shows are you looking forward to this season?

I’m obsessed with Tsumori Chisato right now, the shapes and how it really looks like the work of a 6-year-old gone wild—and I mean that in a really good way! And Maxime Simoens—I’m really excited about seeing what he comes up with—Stella McCartney, and, of course, Vivienne Westwood. And you know what? I’m going to throw Diane von Furstenberg out there, too. I really like her stuff on a daily basis. And McQueen! I almost spent the most amount of money I’ve ever spent on a McQueen dress. I’m also really obsessed with anything that Marc Jacobs does so I’m excited to see what happens with the Dior thing. It’d be a marriage made in heaven!

Photo: Yannis Vlamos /

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