My West London Life

Mary Greenwell


Mary Greenwell Imedeen ambassador and living legend in the beauty world, Mary invites us into her glamorous life to talk Portobello, Lamu and '80s Paris with the original Supers...

Do you live in west London, if so where?

Yes, between Queensway and Notting Hill. But just out of Kensington & Chelsea, which is a huge source of resentment for me.

What are your favourite things about the area?

All my friends – I have so many in the neighbourhood. I love Portobello Road, Westbourne Grove, both parks, and the central line as it goes to my three favourite stops. My local is Electric House where I’m treated so well. Other than Electric House I find myself eating out more in the west end, the River Cafe and of course Scott’s.

Can you describe your ideal day?

In the summer I’d be in the country with friends. In the winter I have a phobia of the country – personally I find it very depressing. But London is great in winter. I’d start the day with pilates, have lunch with a friend, then visit a matinee or museum. The evening would either be friends over to mine, or I’d stay in, relax, and watch a new TV series. I’m currently obsessed with Strictly.

When did you first realise you wanted to be a MUA?

I never actually did, it was thrust upon me. I was living in LA, Fiorucci was opening at the time, and my then-boyfriend had just opened the Fiorucci franchise there. He realised I’d be perfect for a makeup counter, so we stretched the truth saying I’d worked on Biba’s makeup counter in London and the next thing I knew I was flown over to NYC to start the job. I worked with Illane Harkavi who owned the brand Il Makiage, luckily she adored me. I was totally thrown in at the deep end and learnt on the job!

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I was in Paris with an ex-boyfriend about to watch something on TV, and he dragged me over to him and said ‘isn’t this pure happiness?’ I remember thinking he’s absolutely right. And I’d never analysed happiness in this sense or thought that pure happiness could be that simple.

Where is your favourite place in the world and why?

I have a small house in Lamu in Kenya, which is my retreat and my sanctuary. I visit at least twice a year.

What has been the highlight of your career to date?

I was Princess Di’s personal make-up artist for many years which was incredible, but prior to that, it would be meeting all the Supers when we were all just babies in the spring of ’84. We literally grew up together. Staying in the same Paris hotel as me were Linda Evangalista, Christy Turlington, Stephanie Seymour and Cindy was staying just around the corner. We had no idea what that summer would come to represent. They were the first girls to do both runway fashion and photographic campaigns with such ease and experience, they learnt amazingly quickly and all possessed incredible beauty. The deep friendships we forged back then continue to this day.

I feel so blessed to have worked with Avadon and Penn in NY, and consequently the Greats of the next generation. I was absolutely devastated by the death of Peter Linburg who I’d worked very closely with.

Is there a dream job or person you’d love to work with that you haven’t yet?

No, I’ve met everyone. I’m working with my dream clients! But of course, I’m always excited to meet new people.

Who do you most admire and why?

David Attenborough, for absolutely obvious reasons.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Lying in bed and doing nothing – my TV’s in my bedroom

What is your all-time favourite makeup look and why?

Early 60s makeup – Brigitte Bardot is everything.

If you could give one piece of universal makeup or beauty advice, what would it be?

It’s really hard to give one piece of advice as everything really depends on your colouring and the sort of person you are. If you don’t want to wear any makeup at all, that’s fine with me, or if you want to wear tonnes that’s also great. But if I had to give just one piece of advice, I’d say application is everything.

Once you find a look that works for you, don’t feel you have to change your look every season. After a certain age, you can stick with what suits you. It’s much easier to change and update your look with clothing and even a new haircut (at your own risk)!

Are you able to share some of the most high profile people you’ve made up?

Princess Di is up there. It was such a joy to do her makeup, and I did her all the time. I became her personal makeup artist after doing a Vogue cover with her. One of the most amazing times was with Sam in NY doing the Met ball and Diana looked so, so incredible. She was so striking, and it was such fun to be in the Carlisle with her by the museum.

What’s your all-time favourite makeup brand?

There are so many great brands out there, just so many amazing brands. I’m incredibly spoilt and get sent the most extraordinary makeup to try all the time, but the brand I’m most loyal to would probably be Chanel.

What’s the trait you most deplore in others?

Arrogance and unkindness.

And yourself?

My utter control freakishness.

You’re a big advocate of skincare can I ask about your personal beauty routine?

I will never go to bed without taking my makeup off. I have an Epsom salts bath every morning and a quick shower at night.

It all starts in the bath – I kick things off with my Clarisonic cleanser, which I use three times a week with an Exuviance cleanser, then follow with my divine Armani Crema Nera mask, which is incredible! After this, I apply a thin layer Sensai Ultimate Mask, which I leave on. I then get out of the bath and slather myself in Chanel’s Body Excellance, which I adore. My deodorant is Septial –literally antibacterial water, which doesn’t stop you sweating or block the pores, minimising concerns about breast cancer. I’ve used it for 30 years! Then I move on to my day creams; Y Theorum Cream Light Nac Y2 followed by Y Theorum Day Cream both by 111 Skin. These are fantastic under makeup – creating the perfect base for modern, glowing skin. Then begins makeup.

Where do you see yourself in five years – any new projects in the pipeline?

I’m working with Imedeen as I really believe that good nutrition and what goes into the body – really looking after what goes inside – reflects 100% in how you look. Having an intuitive control over what you eat. Eating food that feeds the skin is everything. Since I’ve been using Imadeen I’ve noticed an enormous improvement in my skin. I started taking it six years ago, stopped for a while, then when I went back into it I noticed a massive improvement in the texture and really noticed more of a youthful glow. For the standard of research and ingredients, it’s actually very affordable. All their formulations are specific to your age, skin type etc and very carefully thought out.

Imedeen is available from most good pharmacists, and online here

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