THE IN-TRAY

The calligraphy-crafted makeup brushes about to change everything

Naomi Campbell has no idea what she started. Speak the name Rae Morris to anyone inside the global makeup game and you’ll get a knowing nod. Even if you don’t have instant recall, you’ve definitely seen Morris’s brushstrokes on A-listers like Miranda Kerr, Cate Blanchett, Pink and Jessica Biel. She’s one of the most influential face-makers Australia’s ever produced. But back in 1993, when she collided with La Campbell behind the scenes of an Istanbul model pageant (the super was judging), Morris was just young hairdresser from Queensland.

“Naomi was backstage having her makeup done and smoking cigarettes, when, all of a sudden, her makeup artist stormed out the door,” Morris remembers. Campbell’s infamous glare shot around the room before locking right on Morris. “Fix my lips,” the supermodel said.

“I was a hairdresser,” Morris laughs. But nobody says no to Naomi. “It was just clear gloss so I figured, okay! What could go wrong…”

In that second, the paparazzi burst in and photos of Morris doing the 90s’ most iconic lips beamed around the world. “I’ve never seen Naomi since,” Morris says. “She doesn’t know she changed the course of my life.” By the time the hairdresser was back in Brisbane, she was billed as ‘Rae Morris, international makeup artist’. “I just went with it,” she says.

The years since form beauty history. Morris has authored bestselling books (canon text in makeup academies) and countless runway looks for top-tier designers and mega models. Her most glittering achievement? “My Jishaku collection of magnetic brushes drop the mic,” Morris says about the range which has launched exclusively into Mecca Cosmetica. “They’re made by one of only two living masters of calligraphy brush-making and revolutionise what a makeup tool can do,” she says. “Jishaku is the culmination of everything I’ve ever learned.”

Before Morris jets to LA—“I’m doing the makeup for Shanina’s wedding,” (yep, that’s Shaik)—she talks to the Mecca Memo about the brush line that iconic makeup artists (hello, Peter Philips), Lady Gaga and even Kim K’s go-to guy are raving about.

MEET THE ULTIMATE HACK
“I’ve never cared about long processes,” says Morris. She’ll use sticky tape to fast-track a clean liquid eyeliner or suggest a reflective white shirt instead of piles of concealer. Warp-speed is her signature. “Backstage, I used to shave brushes into shapes that blended perfectly whether my team was left- or right-handed or any good at it, and I’d just be chucking mine around as I went,” she says. “That’s where the idea for Jishaku and the magnetic stand to hold brushes came from.”

TECHNIQUE IS ALL IN THE TOOL
A Jishaku brush pulls off single-touch precision yet blends like some kind of sorcery. “A calligraphy brush must do what it needs to do in one stroke,” says Morris. “It’s in the ergonomics and hairs—my husband’s a vet so it’s all cruelty-free—matched to exact purpose. The eyeshadow brush fibres pick up powder and hold it to blend; a face brush picks up a little, releasing slowly; eyeliner or lip brushes dump all the pigment straight away.” The brush knows how to apply your liquid, cream or dust even if you don’t.

THESE BRUSHES ARE CUSTOM-FIT LIKE SHOES
“The brushes are scaled to different face structures,” Morris explains. “Your contour lines and eye shape will be a different size to someone else’s so your brush should be too.” There are universal designs like the Radiance brush, but a set of even six curated for you open your life up. “Once your brush fits your face, you could follow any Youtube tutorial out there and it will actually work for you.”

THERE’S NEVER BEFORE BEEN A SYNC BETWEEN MAKEUP AND BRUSH MASTERY
“I found Mr Wei, one of only two living masters of brush-making, in Hiroshima and it was a miracle to even get a meeting,” tells Rae. “He’s never made makeup brushes before and never will for anyone else.” A traditional fude calligraphy brush takes 92 steps to make; a standard makeup brush 10-20. Morris’s requires 72. It took a year for the first prototype. “He told me we had to able to feel the skin, know when you touch an eyebrow hair, through the brush and you can,” she says. “What he knows can’t be copied.”

JISHAKU WAS INSPIRED BY REAL WOMEN
“I’ve always been a Mrs Fix-It,” Morris says. “Trend is fun but I love showing women how to hide a puffy eye, carve out shape and structure.” In the masterclasses she teaches Morris downplays the ‘talent’ great makeup takes. “I always say the difference between someone who knows nothing and an expert is experts have the right brushes. It’s not about lots of colour or products.

“Remember, I was taken out of art in school because my teacher said, ‘You don’t have a creative bone in your body’. But here I am.”

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMEN IN THE WORLD ALL…
Know their look. Morris counts clients, and Jishuku devotees, Lady Gaga and Jessica Mauboy as truly gorgeous. “You can love a lot of makeup or a little,” Morris says. “Beautiful is about knowing who you are and makeup that truly works on you.”

Photographs by Pete Daly and La Tessa Photography
January 2018

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