When a client gives you complete artistic freedom, it's time to let your imagination soar—and your confidence kick in.

I think you'll agree that if you ask any makeup artist or hairdresser what makes a perfect client, they'll tell you that the ideal situation for any of us is having a client who is inspired and adventurous. During New York City's Fashion Week, I was lucky to meet that perfect client when I was booked for the first time to do makeup for actress Melissa George.

Billy B.
Billy B.

Melissa starred last year in ABC's Alias and also appeared in the hit movie Amityville Horror. She'll soon be seen in Derailed, with Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen. Melissa was attending the BCBG show as the designer's muse and wanted to look the part.

In America, people lean toward the never-ending trend of natural hair and makeup. Australian-born Melissa wanted to buck that trend. "It's a fashion show," she said. "I want to look like I should be on the runway!" That's all we needed to hear.


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Communication is the key to accomplishing success with any client. Picture references always help: Melissa was so inspired that she had brought along several fashion magazines with specific references to hair and makeup that she liked. This opened the line of communication for brainstorming and debate with hairstylist Alex Dizon and myself. It was Melissa's first time at Fashion Week, and she was relying on us to tell her if her ideas were appropriate. When an actress takes that kind of chance on the red carpet, with the fashion and tabloid press all around, there's always a chance she'll be targeted. But Melissa was fearless in being so fashion-forward, and she totally surrendered to us.

It's incredibly motivating when a client shows you that kind of trust. It gives me a different kind of confidence in my work. When you're completely directed by a client, you run the risk of having some kind of misunderstanding. But when you've been given creative freedom, the sky's the limit for you to follow your instincts, and along with that comes a lot of responsibility. With the time restraints and the scrutiny of the paparazzi, Alex and I didn't have the time to go backward. It was imperative that we nailed a look we were all happy with the first time.

It's always fantastic for me to work with a hairdresser who inspires me. As I watched Alex create Melissa's bow hairstyle—using entirely her own hair—I became more and more inspired. We kept looking at each other without speaking, just with our eyes, and we knew we had a hit. Melissa couldn't see our work in progress, since there weren't any mirrors in the hotel suite we were working in, so when she finally saw herself in the mirror, she was absolutely thrilled. The event was a huge success for her, and I'm happy to say I'll be working with her again soon for the cover of a magazine.

This kind of creative freedom, when all of you are on the same page at the same time, doesn't come along often. But when it does, you know it. You relish it and respect it, and you will make magic.

E-mail Billy B. at [email protected], or visit www.billybbeauty.com