CULTURE

A once-in-a-lifetime experience

Linking antiquity to modern times is a leading style challenge facing the 2004 Athens Olympics and Nadine Luke is one professional setting the tone; an earthy one, in this case. As a MAC senior artist, along with independent makeup artist Kirsten Piggott, Luke was makeup co-director of the breathtaking opening ceremony that took place last week. «This has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience, being part of something so incredible, especially with the Olympics coming back home,» said Luke, speaking from Paris, to Kathimerini English Edition. «Backstage the set up was similar to a fashion show, but there was so much energy, everybody was so excited to be there, all the volunteers, everybody was so into it,» she said. Luke was particularly excited to work with the evening’s artistic director and mastermind, Dimitris Papaioannou. «He is a genius, paying great attention to detail,» she said. «So many things can be missed in such a large-scale event, but he caught every single detail.» Another highly rewarding experience for Luke was her collaboration with London-based Greek designer Sophia Kokosalaki, who designed the evening’s costumes. Appointed by Jack Morton Public Events – producers of the opening and closing ceremonies – a group of 35 top MAC professionals from 16 different countries gathered at the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony, working with actress Lydia Koniordou, the Lovers, the Pregnant Woman, the placard bearers and the final torchbearer Nikos Kaklamanakis, among others. Overall, Luke and her team worked on approximately 210 participants, including the Greek presenters who appeared during the pre-show. Meanwhile, the team offered valuable guidelines for other parts of the ceremony, including the athlete marshals, for instance. How challenging was the ceremony’s reinterpretation of Greek history for the makeup artists? «More than a challenge, it was an honor,» said Luke, adding that each model was hand-selected based on their individual features, their strong Greek traits, such as their nose or brows. «It was about accentuating the beauty of each person; it was one unified look, but custom-made for each face.» To achieve this, the team came up with a natural color palette, in perfect harmony with the refinement of Grecian style: glowing beige, soft brown and healthy peach for the Lovers and the Pregnant Woman, and shimmering bronze and quiet pink for the placard bearers. What seemed effortless in the stadium, however, required prior research. Luke had never visited Greece before taking on the project and had to look into the country’s rich culture in order to draw inspiration – and discipline. Given the great impact of the ceremony on an aesthetic level, Luke believes that following the Games, Greek style could well be one of the fashion stories to watch. «All these flowing clothes and drapes, in which women feel comfortable and at the same time sexy, while leaving something to the imagination, this is the kind of look that a lot of women in their 30s are looking for, for instance,» she said. Born in Jamaica and raised in Toronto, Luke began her career as a part-time MAC artist. Since then, she has earned a reputation as an energetic professional with a penchant for flashy makeup with personality. Luke also boasts extensive experience with runway shows, including collaborations with established designers and houses, including Alexander McQueen, Roberto Cavalli, Carolina Herrera, Chloe and Oscar de la Renta. «MAC is a global company with counters all over the world, we can’t have one standard, it has to be a universal one,» said Luke. «Our color lines are made for all ages, all sexes and all races.» The company enjoys a long history in the entertainment industry, ranging from film to television, music and theater. While the products provide the basis to work with, the professional makeup artists put the message across. «Beauty comes from within and is then accentuated and capitalized upon by how you present it, through style and clothing, for instance,» said Luke. «Don’t be afraid to be different, it’s this uniqueness that sets us aside. Find your best feature and bring it forward.»   Luke returns to Athens next week for another landmark moment: the Athens 2004 closing ceremony, where she will collaborate with MAC’s Greek branch.