Lucy Garland Chats Women In Drag And Being A Marc Jacobs Beauty Ambassador

Hello dolly.

How to describe someone whose principle output is essentially fierce transformation? Enigmatic feels too cloaked for Lucy Garland, the beauty identity who courts the unconventional and boasts up to 400,000 views on each of her hundreds of YouTube make-up tutorials. Not to mention the self-won contract with Marc Jacobs Beauty from Marc himself.

Her beauty starting point is drag — uncommon for a woman and sometimes contended, but we’ll get to that later. Her angle is clever and entertaining: highlights include Extreme Plastic Surgery tutorial; Comin’ To Your Funeral Uninvited tutorial; even Trump gets a look-in (mostly middle fingers and big, black, four-letter words starting with F). Evidently, to try to describe her would be useless. Especially when she’s around to pick up the phone and do it herself.

So, Marc Jacobs! How did you get involved?
In late 2016, Marc Jacobs Beauty put out a casting call on Instagram for ‘beauty influencers’. It was very vague, really no information other than that. I put together a video, went as crazy as I could to hopefully grab someone’s attention and I was chosen as a finalist! They flew us to New York to film a video for Marc and from there he would choose the final five. I was chosen and now, basically, I am one of the beauty ambassadors for the brand. It has been pretty crazy realising that Marc Jacobs himself chose me out of thousands and thousands of people to represent his brand. It has been very validating for my art and really cool to see such a huge mainstream brand like that accept my style and really embrace it.

What lead you to makeup artistry, what’s your earliest memory of make-up?
I started off drawing. From preschool onwards I always had an interest in colour and shadowing and how they worked together in different ways. Then it led into an interest in the human form… specifically the face. I remember being on the bus on the way to school or just talking to friends and tracing out the proportions of their face subtly with my finger. I was so intrigued by the differences from person to person, so of course I started drawing them. I would spend days on each drawing, obsessing over whether that eye was round enough, or whether the lips were shaded right — I’m a little bit of a control freak. Looking back on it now, it was a type of meditation for me. Straight after high school I moved to Melbourne, where the drag scene is huge and very fun. I started going out and was instantly in love. Because I’d had maybe ten solid years of drawing under my belt, I was able to pick up the make-up part very quickly because it is essentially the exact same thing.

What is it about drag culture that hooked you?
I just love it. It’s so exciting to me! It has always been the perfect mix of art and fashion, which I always struggled to find. When you go to a show — I was just at DragCon in NYC — the energy is next level. Everyone is there to show off and express themselves in a room full of like-minded people. It’s a super cool thing and I can’t suggest highly enough everyone trying it at least once.

Are there any aspects of the drag scene you’d want to get rid of or change?
The biggest one for me is the argument about female drag queens and whether we’re valid or not. There are very popular queens, with a lot of influence and big followings, who truly believe cis women are disrespecting drag culture because we’re not giving off any kind of illusion and that these spaces aren’t for us. Essentially it all comes down to genitals. If you don’t have a penis, apparently you can’t be a drag queen, which is total BS. Drag is an art form, not a penis party.

What about make-up? Any beliefs or misconceptions you’d like to erase?
For me, the belief that you have to have the best of the best, and own the most expensive everything, can be very daunting and discouraging for a lot of people. I get comments all the time: “Why do you use the same eyeshadow pallet for every look?” … it’s because it works! Don’t believe the hype of consumerism — invest in a few good products and learn how to use them.

Your work means you spend a lot of time with your own face — has it made you more aware or self-conscious of your flaws, or more comfortable?
Definitely more comfortable! Is that conceited? No, I really enjoy working on my own face, it gives me a challenge because I know it so well. So, to try and completely turn things on their head and find new ways to transform myself isn’t always easy.

Do you think make-up should be used to hide or enhance?
Make-up should be used for whatever you want! For me, at least, to hide is to enhance most of the time. I very rarely wear makeup day to day, so when I do decide to sit down and do a look, the goal is to enhance what I already have. That’s what drag is about.

And before all of this, what was your life like growing up and where are you from?
I am originally from Northern NSW, a little town called Mullumbimby in the Byron Shire. Growing up there was great! My parents put my sisters and I into Steiner School for around nine years, so that’s where all the creativity began. It was a very laid back, go at your own pace kind of vibe. We didn’t learn how to read until fifth grade, because learning the colours of the rainbow was more important.

Did your parents instil any mantras or traditions in you?
I suppose the obvious ones were just to work hard and, if you want to do something, do it!

What does being ‘popular’ mean to you?
Popularity is so overrated. But I suppose it means appealing to the masses, which I don’t think ever leads to anything interesting. I’m sure as hell not popular, I’ve just managed to tap into a very niche audience who love and understand what I do. Being popular is the last thing on my mind — I would prefer to be called talented, not popular.

And what is your definition of ‘beautiful’?
As you get older, you slowly realise what these words really mean. Being beautiful is confidence and being unapologetically you! Not trying to be popular, but trying to be fully grounded and a good person.

Who would be your dream person to work with and why?
It would be Pat McGrath or John Galliano. Or Pat McGrath for John Galliano! I would die to have been there as that was all going down, so much going on and so much creativity. I think I’d pass out. They’re truly two of the best.

Do you have some favourite make-up looks throughout history?
Again, let me talk more about Pat McGrath and John Galliano! Honestly, it’s the most incredible use of makeup as an extension of fashion. Very few designers go as hard as he did back then, and really utilise make-up as an accessory. I am always so surprised about that. I suppose it comes down to trying to appeal to the masses.

What about your favourite products, can you name some?
The Kryolan TV Paint Stick. I would not be doing this interview right now if it wasn’t for that foundation! And anything Marc Jacobs… of course.

The biggest question: what’s the secret to making sure your left eye / brow is the same as your right?
Practice! It was all those years of being creepy staring at my friends’ eyebrows! But honestly, if you are patient, and really willing to learn and understand, it will become second nature.

Photography: Victor Davidson
Beauty editor: Colette Miller
Makeup: Lucy Garland
Words: Hayley Morgan
Originally published in Oyster #112