The In-Tray


Photographed by Esteban La Tessa.

If you want the 411 on microblading, or the exact illuminator Kerry Washington wore to the Emmy’s (Hourglass Ambient Lighting) then ask Bee Shapiro. As a beauty columnist for The New York Times, she’s interviewed celebrities from Drew Barrymore to Kim Kardashian and met the best in Hollywood’s beauty business. Shapiro is a bona fide encyclopedia of knowledge but the one thing she wasn’t seeing landing on her desk? Fragrances made without hyper-controversial ingredients like parabens (chemical preservatives) and phthalates (homogenising agents).

So she set out to create her own signature scents focused on natural ingredients, sustainability and responsible sourcing—without said nasties. With The New York Times’ reader as her sounding board and Jerome Epinette (who also collaborates with Byredo), as her perfumer, her label Ellis Brooklyn (named after her first daughter) was born.

To coincide with Ellis Brooklyn launching at MECCA TROVE, Shapiro sat down with TMM to talk fragrance and the best celebrity tip she has ever tried.

TMM: As a writer you’ve come face to face with so many beauty products, why create your own?
BS: “I’m a lover of fragrance and the one thing that I saw that really wasn’t changing as far as innovation and technology, was fragrance. The rest of the industry was going paraben-free, clean skin care was going phthalate-free but none of the fragrances were trying to do that. It just wasn’t up to date. The idea blossomed and I thought if I’m going to do this, then I’m going to do it by being true to myself.”

TMM: Jerome Epinette is the perfumer behind your fragrances, how did this relationship come about?
BS: “When I started out, I thought ‘I’m a The New York Times beauty reporter. I should be able to go out there and connect with some of the top perfumers.’ Literally no-one returned my calls. I had to ask for a favour from someone in the beauty industry and that was how I got my introduction to Jerome. The second I met him, I was like ‘this is perfect.’ Not only does he do beautiful work but he’s very modern—also he was game.”

TMM: Your line started as body milk scents, why this unique fragrance delivery?
BS: “At the time, I was going into the office a lot at The New York Times. It was a very male dominated, cubicle environment and I didn’t want to be spraying eau de parfums everywhere. So that’s how I wore fragrance to work (as a lotion), because it was this soft, all-enveloping way of doing it. I launched with two body milks—people thought I was crazy!—but again, I wanted to be true to myself and that’s how I wear it.”

TMM: Your small-batch formulas are made in New York. How does the city inspire the brand?
BS: “I think it’s everything.  Brooklyn right now is THE place in New York—it informs so much culture. I think Myth, which I created for myself, is a New York scent. It stays close to your skin and invites people in, it doesn't project out. It’s soft and feminine but still modern. It’s the perfect crowded city scent.”

TMM: Having interviewed almost every major celebrity and beauty expert about their routine, what is one of the best tips you’ve heard?
BS: “This one I just tried myself. I once interviewed Nicole Richie and when she flies she sticks Papaw ointment (we like KIT Cosmetics Multipurpose Wonder Balm) up her nose because she swears it blocks away the germs. I actually think for long flights (like coming from New York to Australia) it helps, because your nose can get really dry.”

TMM: What are some of the biggest trends you’re seeing in the industry right now?
BS: “Metallics are really big. One trend I’m seeing right now is ‘Lip Highlighting’ which is basically metallic for your lips. Instead of applying it all over, you would put a metallic lipstick on (we recommend Smashbox Be Legendary Liquid Lip in Space Case) and blot it so it has a light three-dimensional effect. 3D, 3D, 3D is a constant thing I’m hearing.”

TMM: It’s tough picking favourites but what are the holy grail beauty items you just can’t live without?
BS: “My favourite sunscreen is from Omorovicza it’s the Mineral UV Shield and I think it's great. There’s also these NARS lip tints I love from hthe Charlotte Gainsbourg collaboration. It seems like Charlotte must have been able to translate her French-girl chic into that line because it’s extremely good.”

Words by Romy Erdos.


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