Famous makeup artist Pablo Manzoni has died at the age of 82.
Born into an aristocratic family in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, he established himself at the forefront of makeup artistry and cared for world-renowned leading ladies such as the Duchess of Windsor. , Sophia Loren, Maria Callas and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. In 1965, self-made Manzoni became the first in its field to win a Coty Award for leadership in cosmetics.
Manzoni died Feb. 2 at NYU Langone Medical Center, from complications from back surgery, according to publicist David Lotz. News of his death has been delayed as it took time to release his body due to office issues, but plans for memorial services are being considered for a later date in Rome and New York.
Although he had no work experience in cosmetics, Manzoni persuaded staff members at the Elizabeth Arden salon in Rome in 1960 to try his luck with him. Passionate about Hollywood films as a child, he became interested in the profession of make-up artist at an early age, despite the disapproval of those close to him. Initially hired to work on fashion shows, he caught the attention of superiors with his dramatic and original artistry, especially when it came to eye makeup. In 1964, Elizabeth Arden uprooted Manzoni from Rome to her Red Door Salon in New York. The flagship Fifth Avenue location was a haven for many of Manhattan’s wealthiest elites and entertainment industry celebrities. Manzoni was creative director of the Red Door salon until 1979. His followers were so strong that at one point his image was used on some Elizabeth Arden products.
Described by founder Elizabeth Arden as “the Picasso of eye makeup”, Manzoni created zebra print designs and eyes accented with embellishments such as black lace, peacock feathers, sequins, emerald crystals rough and even diamonds. His singular creations had truly never been seen before. Manzoni was also an early champion in eyebrow whitening. He first used the technique on Sophia Loren while still working in Rome in the early sixties. Manzoni also popularized the use of false eyelashes. Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar sought out his eye makeup skills as much as celebrities and socialites relied on him for natural enhancements.
One of Manzoni’s friends, fashion designer Ralph Rucci, described him Thursday as “a rare visionary.” Referring to the huge eyelashes and facial feathers that have been used in recent seasons by Valentino and other luxury houses, Rucci said, “Totally Pablo. Under the direction of Ms. [Diana] Vreeland, he created all the excitement.
This Otherworld sparked mainstream interest in his work, but Manzoni attested that his theatrical looks were simply inspirational and made for publicity. Far from the spotlight, he favors subtle treatments that highlight the individual beauty of each woman.
Known simply as “Pablo”, Manzoni’s charm, elegance, wit and impeccable manners won over many discerning customers. Verna Lisi, Gloria Vanderbilt, Diahann Carroll, Twiggy, Penelope Tree, Babe Paley, Bianca Jagger and Raquel Welch were among the loyalists who flocked to the Fifth Avenue lounge for Manzoni to work his magic. From partial to neutral and tonal shades to naturally re-sculpt a woman’s face, artist and designer Elsa Peretti once described her light touch as “like feathers.”
The quick-witted creative would drop lines like, “Flaws are chic” and “I hate any woman with thicker eyebrows than mine.”
Central to her beauty philosophy was “that every woman is unique, individually beautiful. I don’t believe that a beautiful woman is a woman with a perfect face. Every face has distinctive features, which some women consider ‘flaws’ but actually make every face interesting,” Manzoni said, adding that he taught women to “play those special deviations that make her look chic and memorable”.
During a 1978 interview with WWD, he expanded on this ideology and shared other insights such as, “A simply vain woman looks in the mirror and is upset. A smart woman looks at herself in the mirror and is delighted. It gives the right weight to the right values; she has a perspective on herself. Other advice was harsher, like, “Only women with gray hair should consider wearing blue eyeshadow.” And for them, green is a big mistake.
All of those good words were put to good use in her 1978 Simon & Schuster book, “Instant Beauty: The Complete Way to Perfect Makeup.” Esteemed fashion editor Diana Vreeland wrote the introduction. Rather than fall asleep as an elitist, Manzoni has decided to share his philosophy and his secrets so that women of all stripes can glean his expertise.
Artistic as he was, Manzoni valued speed and efficiency, guiding readers through five-minute, 10-minute, and 20-minute makeup touch-ups. “I think any woman who spends more than 30 minutes doing her face takes herself too seriously,” he once told WWD.
He, too, has not benefited from his fame and socialite-fuelled limelight. Manzoni once blanched at the suggestion of potentially writing a second book. “Why would I write another? This is how I felt 10 years ago, and this is how I will feel 10 years from now,” he said. “Beauty, like manners, is international, timeless. You don’t change your point of view, just make small adjustments.
Continuing, he said, “After all, fads are for fools. People who are always in fashion are faceless; they cling to something. They are losers – underline the losers.
Overall, Manzoni’s approach to makeup was positive and involved working with the face as it is. Focusing on contouring, face masking and surgery was negative and counterproductive from his point of view. So much so that he once attended a cosmetic surgery symposium in Scottsdale to share his views with plastic and reconstructive surgeons. Afterwards, he said, “It’s very easy to rush into surgery thinking you can be a movie star after a facelift. I think it’s not so much the face that needs to be operated on, but people’s heads.
The entertainer didn’t just cater to the well-heeled intercontinental crowd. In the spring of 1972, he visited a residence for recovering drug addicts to offer them makeup tutorials and beauty advice to help them feel better about themselves. The initiative was a program sponsored by Elizabeth Arden.
After leaving Elizabeth Arden in 1979, Manzoni worked with private clients from his Ritz tower studio on Park Avenue. He also worked as creative director for the La Prairie cosmetics line.
Manzoni is survived by a niece Fiorella Fumagalli and a nephew Franco Fumagalli.