For makeup connoisseurs, Val Garland needs no introduction. Holding the brush to some of the industry’s most iconic looks, her work has graced countless covers and made her a backstage fixture. We asked Val to brief us on her Top Ten favourite shoots with Mario.
VG: This was the most amazing shoot to go on. We were shooting in this incredible house that Mario had hired, I have forgotten where it was now… maybe it was in the Mediterranean. Eddie and Karlie had just met for the first time, and there was such a fantastic chemistry between the two of them. It felt like we were the voyeurs of an incredible love story, with Mario capturing their electrifying conversation. Long after the shoot was over, we kept in touch. Eddie went on to become this incredible Oscar-winning superstar, but he’s remained the same nice person. You can say that about a lot of the people Mario chooses to shoot, he always seems to find their essence.
VG: We flew all the way to Jordan and I was slightly apprehensive, as I kept thinking, “I’m going to be doing Queen Rania's makeup – she’s a Queen!. But she was lovely. We were waiting in her palace when she came roaring along in a motorbike with her husband! They were very nice, and she gave us all lovely gifts at the end.
VG: I think this was the last time I worked with Keira, with Paul Cavaco and Mario. She looked incredibly beautiful in this shoot. It was something about the way Mario stripped it all back, took the clothes away, and just threw the jacket over her shoulders with that big, red lipstick look.
VG: Camilla Nickerson was styling, and we had always seen Emma as a bit of a tomboy. I felt this was a move forward for her, with Mario giving her this Hollywood, 1920s starlet look with quite strong, dramatic make up. She looked incredibly beautiful, and I also learned that Emma’s an incredible make up artist herself. She knows how to paint!
VG: This was one of those massive shoots that Mario does from time to time; 18 pages with a different superstar on every page. I think one of the reasons that I often get booked on these shoots with Mario is because he knows that I’m fast, so we can get through the day and get all the looks done. Naomi, icon!
VG: This was the first time I worked with both Taylor and Mario, and he was like, 'I want to do something different.' Mario always wants to do something different, that’s what’s special about him. He said, 'I don’t want the red lipstick, I don’t want a feline flick, I want a new Taylor. Come on Val, what can we do?' And I said, 'Why don’t we do some freckles?' We freckled her completely, so she looked like this fun, very natural, outdoorsy girl. James Pecis did the hair, this quiff, and it gave us a totally new Taylor. I don’t think you see freckles very often on the cover of Vogue.
VG: I love this shoot because it’s another version of Kate. Everybody always sees Kate as Brigitte Bardot; this is Kate as Charlotte Rampling. I think the lighting that Mario did, the styling, it all came together and made her look sexy, but in a new way. And again, that’s what Mario is great at.
VG: When Mario said, 'Do you want to go to Australia?' I was like, 'Are you kidding me? Of course!' So, I went all the way to Australia for three days, and I think Mario was there in total for a month. It was just a fantastic experience. We had to work really quickly, with lots of models in the boiling heat, but as always, Mario pulled it off.
VG: This was a great shoot to be involved in. This was one of those shoots where Mario said, 'I want it to be intimate, so Val you can’t have an assistant. It’s just going to be you… and can you do the nails as well?' I was like, 'Of course!' It was such a powerful look, and so many people commented that they’d never seen Britney look more beautiful. That was down to Mario’s lighting, his composition – that’s why she looked so amazing.
VG: I did this story with Mario for British Vogue in 2016. When we have somewhere between 10 to 40 models coming in for a couple of days only, the pressure is on to give each shot a completely different character. I loved the set and this look in particular though. I like working this way with Mario, and having everything being flung at us but still knowing that we can get it done. Photographs © Mario Testino