Get to Know Taylor’s Glam Workforce: Hairstylist Johnnie Sapong and Make-up Artist Kate Lee


Historically, the “B-side” refers back to the flip-side of a document. The A-side accommodates the extra front-facing hits; the singles—however on the B-side, you will get in a bit deeper with the artist. And fairly actually, there is not any higher metaphor I can consider for the artistic group behind a magnificence look. They pull the references, scour the archives, and paint the image you see on the large display. The celeb, mannequin, or actor is the one with essentially the most air time. However the glam group? They’re the producers, conductors, mates, and household. For lack of a much less ubiquitous phrase, they make it work.

So, it’s with nice pleasure we introduce you to Johnnie Sapong and Kate Lee—two of the masterminds behind the hair and make-up seems in Byrdie’s very first September problem. It has all the time been our mission to shine a lightweight on the BTS of magnificence, because the artistry of hair and make-up is an intricate, detailed exploration on the cross-section of aesthetics and tradition. Why? As a result of the origin of a glance is simply as essential because the look itself. The backstory deserves its personal hard-earned glory. Beneath, be a part of us in taking a peek backstage with Johnnie Sapong and Kate Lee, as their recommendation and wonder musings are each enchanting and empowering in equal measure.

Hair: Johnnie Sapong

“I first met Taylor Russell just a few years in the past in Paris,” Sapong tells me. “We had been engaged on a undertaking for Mui Mui and I assumed she was a form, mild soul and an ideal particular person.” Sapong waxes on about Russell’s pure magnificence, lamenting his admiration for her curls and the kinds that embellish and improve them. “We prefer to mess around with quantity and texture,” he says, including he liked embracing her braids on set and dealing on some textured seems, in addition to structural ones. “They had been match for a queen!” he says joyfully.

“The collaborative course of is the finest a part of my job,” Sapong continues, as working with outdated mates and revered colleagues permits numerous jobs and units to really feel like massive household gatherings. “It was pretty to work with Kate Lee on the Byrdie cowl shoot, we’ve a protracted work historical past and friendship. I feel we met on a shoot with David Bailey again in London, which was undoubtedly a second.”


I ask Sapong to take us again to the start—to his adolescence and the beginning of his profitable profession in London, and to speak a bit about his mentors and inspirations within the trade. “I grew up in an space of West London known as South Acton, an inner-city working class space the place it was all about dreaming,” he tells me. “[My childhood] was in regards to the want to be a part of one thing I had solely ever seen in footage or movies.” He mentions journey and the chance to work in New York and Paris as a part of these big-time goals. Appears like goals actually can come true.

Sapong labored on music movies for Huge Assault, Nenah Cherry, and Portis Head throughout the U.Okay. earlier than engaged on set for magazines like The Face and i-D with massive trade names, together with British trend stylist and equipment designer Judy Blame. “There was quite a bit of crossover within the trend, music, and artwork worlds,” he explains. “We had been engaged on the streets and we had been from the streets.” Sapong says of the ’90s icon, “One among my largest inspirations is my beloved buddy Judy Blame, who is unfortunately now not with us.

He was undoubtedly somebody who gave me my largest break on this enterprise.” He pauses and provides, “My expensive buddy Pat McGrath is a real inspiration, as effectively.” He mentions her work championing entry, variety, and inclusivity. “Each step she takes, each hit she scores, she’s doing that for all of us, all of us got here from the identical begin.”

The merchandise all the time in his equipment:

  • Mason Pearson Pure Bristle Brush
  • YS Park Vast Tooth Tail Comb
  • R. Session Professional Instruments Tidal Waver
  • Leonor Greyl Éclat Naturel Styling Cream
  • Huile de Leonor Greyl Shampoo Remedy

Even nonetheless, there have been so many pivotal moments in his profession, Sapong assures me, like his first-ever Vogue cowl shoot. That day, he had the possibility to behave out visions dreamed up and manifested again in South Acton. I begin to think about the day as a spotlight reel as I hear the story, the soundtrack is one thing silky-soft and vibey, however nonetheless thrilling. I image the haze of nostalgia and heat gentle hanging over each phrase. “To anybody coming into this enterprise,” he says with that very same particular vitality, “dream massive.” Sapong coos, “It is all about goals. Life takes you ahead with goals and remember it. Work onerous, put your head down, take each alternative, and be one of the best you probably will be. That is what it takes!”


Make-up: Kate Lee

“Magnificence is exclusive to every individual and empowering to all,” Lee says to me. “Enhancing somebody’s pure options has a bodily and psychological impact we will all profit from. I like the sensation of having the ability to assist somebody really feel their finest,” she provides. Lee mentions her time on set with Russell and the way a lot of a deal with it’s to spend time together with her. “Taylor is a dream to work with. Not solely is she completely lovely and a pleasure to color, she can be good, humorous, and has a lot coronary heart.”

By way of her ardour for make-up, Lee admits there wasn’t precisely an “aha” second she will recall. “It was extra of a sense,” she says, “of being drawn to the bodily act of making use of make-up.” In her early years, Lee was impressed by images of fashions and musicians, and from a really early age she discovered herself eager to emulate their seems on herself and her mates. “It was a really lengthy path that began effectively earlier than I may have understood what it was to be a make-up artist,” she explains.


Lee went to trend faculty in London within the early ’90s, so naturally names like Kate, Christy, Helena, and Naomi will all the time have a particular place in her coronary heart. Nonetheless, she was (and nonetheless is) most impressed by the icons of the ’50s and ’60s—notables like Audrey Hepburn, Jean Seberg, Catherine Deneuve. “The ’50s was a century of glamour,” she says, “and that doesn’t actually get outdated.”

Her long-time mentor is Val Garland—a make-up artist from London who’s recognized for her outlandish, experimental, and hypnotizing work (she concepted seems for Vivienne Westwood and Girl Gaga). Lee labored alongside her for a few years within the early a part of her profession, and he or she credit Garland for her method to make-up. “It is tremendous essential, regardless of how assured you are feeling in your individual capability, to work with somebody extra skilled for some time. It lets you assume in another way and kind your individual methods and aesthetic,” Lee says. She recited a quote to me by Calvin Coolidge, one she says all the time involves thoughts when she meets somebody beginning out, “Nothing on the earth can take the place of persistence. Expertise is not going to; nothing is extra widespread than unsuccessful males with expertise. … Persistence and willpower alone are all-powerful.”

kate lee doing makeup

Lee’s sound-bites are completely packaged and transferring directly, like a music you play on loop to raised be taught the lyrics. Once I ask if there is a spotlight she will single out from her 25-year-long profession, she will’t decide only one. “I don’t let any of those highlights wash over me. I really feel very lucky to actually love my job, and so all of it’s a spotlight for me,” she says. She goes on to clarify how she misses the creativity, the collaboration, and the enjoyable of all of it. “The reality is, I like to be on set. I like the folks I get to work with repeatedly,” Lee laments. “Being surrounded by artistic folks is my glad place.”

Earlier than we finish our interview, Lee says yet another factor about making it as a make-up artist. Reality me instructed, it applies to anybody, anyplace, doing something: “Be humble. All the time be open, able to be taught, and bear in mind to be a group participant.”

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