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Eye Society: Internationally known makeup artist Michael Burke paints the townsfolk at Nordstrom's makeup counters.

Styling With Stila

Michael Burke gives good face at Nordstrom

By Dara Colwell

After 16 years accenting the faces of models, celebrities and average women off the streets, international makeup artist Michael Burke says applying makeup comes down to one thing: "testing, testing, testing!" A Stila cosmetics head trainer, Burke recently made the rounds at Nordstrom's Stila counters, offering advice and, of course, an expert makeover.

Burke has painted the faces of the fashion elite, including Madonna, Michelle Pfeiffer and Pamela Anderson, and touched up the male celebrity mugs of Keanu Reeves, Brad Pitt and John Travolta. But the real challenge, he says, is working with customers who walk in clutching a magazine, aspiring to look like Cindy Crawford. "Celebrities are far easier to please--they always have a certain look in mind," he says. "Nine times out of ten, someone off the street has put less forethought into what kind of makeover she wants."

Case in point, I showed up wanting "my eyes done." Burke, who will soon be off to Japan for a six-month stint, says that Americans are more conservative. "We tend to think of Asian ladies as demure but their idea of a 'natural look' is lavender or lime green," he says. Not wanting to be one of those muted-brown-neutral girls, I told Burke to bring it on.

Stila's line can be used either for everyday or a more exaggerated catwalk look. To darken the shade, Burke uses a slightly damp brush on the eye shadow. He applies a combination of dark browns and purples to my lid, outlining my eyes with shadow for a softer look. The makeup is extremely user-friendly with mouthwatering shades ranging from melon and kiwi to guava and petunia.

While Burke says he is always eager for ladies to be more adventurous with their makeup, he also emphasizes comfort. "Never aspire to be anything but yourself!" he says with a flourish. But if you're willing to take a chance, makeup artists love to experiment. "And you can always wash it off," he says. My advice is, don't! I strutted around all day, batting my dramatic eyelashes at whoever crossed my path. And before long, all the boys in the office were gathered around my desk

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From the March 20, 2000 issue of the Metropolitan.

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