Flower Girl: Drew Barrymore’s Garden Grows
Drew Barrymore has spent almost the entirety of her life in the public eye, having first captured our attention at age 7 as the pigtailed, wide-eyed star of E.T. Besides achieving the seemingly impossible feat of emerging from a multi-decade career and tumultuous family relatively unscathed—sure, there was the brief teenage battle with addiction, as chronicled in the seminal celebrity autobiography Little Girl Lost (a book this writer has pored over on more than one occasion) and that infamous dirty dance on Letterman circa 1995, but not much else to speak of—Barrymore has managed to leave a remarkable impression on the world of pop culture, both on-screen and off. Her luminous film reel includes projects as varied as Irreconcilable Differences, Poison Ivy, Charlie’s Angels, Everyone Says I Love You, Grey Gardens (“One of the best things I’ve gotten to do in my life,” she says of the HBO miniseries), and pretty much every rom-com worth seeing—all of which she managed to star in while establishing herself as a formidable beauty icon.
Barrymore’s rebellious early days featured many a makeover, which included permed, streaky blonde strands; a bleached platinum crop; powdered pale skin; maroon lips; pencil-thin darkened brows of the nineties variety captured in those famous Guess Girl ads; and the sunny, neo-hippy look of the early aughts. Drew has managed to own not just baby barrettes, the daisy as accessory, and, later, ombré hair, but she also conjured one of our hands-down favorite awards-show looks ever, in the form of the perfectly retro makeup and mommy-drinks bouffant that she wore to the Oscars in 2009. So when the news broke that the onetime CoverGirl face was branching out into beauty with a Walmart makeup line called Flower—”We’re trying to bring prestige into mass,” she explains of the 181-piece range—it seemed par for the course. Here, Style.com caught up with the new mom and budding cosmetics impresario to talk product favorites, mantras, and the glory of the nineties-beauty resurgence that dominated the Spring runways.
So why a beauty line?
Well, you know I have been sitting in a makeup chair since I was 6 years old, and I’ve watched women around me get ready, and it’s a very aspirational environment. And it really made the most insane impression on me my whole life. And then when I started getting really into makeup in my teens and twenties, and being experimental, being playful, and getting to work with the best makeup artists in the world—in film and fashion—it became such a part of my life.
I read that Flower is inspired by products you have been inspired by over the years. How did you ultimately realize that kind of homage?
I don’t know why, what psychic moment in me, but I just always saved everything so that one day I would be able to put it into something. Maybe I’m just a hoarder or a psychic person. But I really care about beauty; I watched brands develop, I know prestige, I know mass, I love pigment, I love payoff. I love every different type of look. I’m always changing my hair and makeup, depending what sort of fun mood I’m in at that time in my life. And then when I became the co-creative director at CoverGirl for six years, it was such a wonderful and empowering experience that when I finished my contract, it was like I had gone to college for six years. What are you going to do with your degree? And I decided to take a risk and start my own brand. But I wanted to do something different, because I think mass makeup is so good, the bar is so high. We are trying to be a game change and bring prestige into mass, and not with a promise but with the actual formulas. There are already 181 SKUs to start, and yet I feel like it’s not enough. I have so much more that I want to try and do.
What are your hero beauty products?
I always really loved a lip liner that you could wear as lipstick. I used to do that in the nineties, and I would love to bring that look back, using our liners. I love a cream eye shadow that moves really well but then sets beautifully and never creases or crumbles. I’m always weirded out by what so much of long-lasting is, but when something comes off easily, that always amazes me, too. And our cream shadow really does those three crucial things for me. You know what I was also obsessed with was the old Shiseido double-ended, one-side-gloss, one-side-matte lip product. What was amazing about it was that the pigments matched perfectly, so you really did get the gloss version and the truly chalky matte version of that same color that you fell in love with. And I thought that was amazing. In fact, I need to bring that back!
Do you feel like Flower is targeting a specific age range?
I really think it’s for everyone. I’ve always tried to do that in film; I like an all-ages party. I want it to be welcoming to a lot of different ages and not alienating to any. And the formulas and the colors we chose, and the marketing campaign that we designed ourselves, I just tried to do something that I thought would speak to a very vast age range.
Flower is also the name of your production company, but what about it resonates with makeup—and with you personally?
Flowers are so beautiful. You can see a black-eyed Susan swaying in the wind on a concrete highway, and it sort of takes you out of your agro, industrial moment for a minute, and you think, Wow, that’s crazy—that there is this moment of nature right there. Or you can picture yourself in an English rose garden, and it’s one of the most romantic settings. You can be hustling and bustling throughout your day and tense and going for it, and if somebody handed you a flower, it immediately sort of changes your mood, much like a song can do. And I think flowers also range from very young and playful and simple, like a daisy, to something beautiful and romantic and ornate and astonishing that nature could pull this off, like a cabbage rose. I have just always happened to love flowers; I think it is, again, a very inviting thing. It doesn’t have that kind of edginess…flowers are for everybody. There’s at least one to pick from for each person. I also like the idea that for twenty years I’ve worked under this banner, and to have it be our beauty name is authentic to me. It is who I am.
Are there any tips you’ve picked up from makeup artists over time that you’ve implemented into your own regimen?
Makeup artists have taught me to put a little highlighter in the inner corner of my eye; it’s one of those things I never think to do, but it does make you look so wide awake and sparkly and happy.
What’s your own beauty routine?
I wash my face obsessively because I love keeping it clean. Ninety percent of the time, I have sixty seconds, so a great concealer, a great little lip that I can double as a cheek, and if I’m lucky, I’ll throw some eye liner or mascara in there, but a concealer and a lip are really a must.
For a great many women, you were the foremost beauty icon of the nineties. How do you feel now that the look you so perfected is back on the runways?
First of all, I didn’t even know that the nineties were happening on the runways! I know everything that’s going on with beauty, but I’m so out of touch with fashion. I’m the girl who picks her clothes up off the floor and wears them again and again all week. I’ve actually been obsessed lately with the nineties again. I’ve been drawing in my eyebrows, and we have two colors in our lip liners—one is Toffee and one is Plum—and we also have a lipstick called Chocolate Lily, and I’ve been putting those on, and then a little powder on top of them and doing powder blush and really pale skin. My husband comes in, and he’s like, ‘What are you doing?’ And I’m like, ‘This is what we did in the nineties and I’m totally inspired by it.’ ’Cause everything comes back around, like snap your fingers and here it is again. But that nineties matte finish, after so much gloss and shine for so long, is nice. I’m just channeling my inner Sherilyn Fenn.
Someone certainly worth channeling! Do you have any other beauty icons?
Sharon Tate and Diane Keaton pop in my head, with a splash of every single look David Bowie has ever pulled off. I would say put those three in a blender, and you have my heart.
What about a beauty mantra? Anything come to mind?
Yeah, I do [have a beauty mantra]! It’s that happiness is the best makeup. I absolutely cannot paint on my face with any product in the world when I feel good and balanced and happy and fulfilled inside. I could have nothing on my face and I look so much more attractive.
One more question: Will we see you on the big screen again anytime soon?
Yes, absolutely. At some point, you will see me acting again, but right now I have no interest in being somebody else.