An acoustic rendition of ‘Savannah Grass’ played softly in the background as the crowd gathered at the front steps of the French Embassy. Dany Sanz, founder of French cosmetic company Make Up Forever, sketches her vision before the audience, her hands flowing effortlessly across the canvas. The image is a combination of things — abstract and modern art as well as surrealism. The sketch, with its rough and sharp strokes, eventually establishes her as an edgy, fierce and powerful artist.
This international makeup icon’s protégé Neishel Vilain Pierron was the architect of Dany’s visit to Trinidad. The St Joseph’s Convent (Port of Spain) alumna left Trinidad some years ago and followed her dream of make-up artistry to Paris where she learned all she could from her mentor. She credits her success in her projects to Sanz’s guidance and direction, leading to the establishment of her own company Carnival Makeup Addicts. Due to such accomplishments, Pierron wanted to have Sanz visit Trinidad to see what Trinidad’s carnival had to offer in the world of cosmetology. Pierron’s invitation was combined with an offer to collaborate with the Carnival band then four-time Medium Band of the Year K2K Alliance & Partners, which made the prospect of a trip irresistible.
When Sanz was first told about the major festivities in this part of the world, she had never even heard of Trinidad. And she was in for a big surprise. This tiny island in the Caribbean Sea was just bustling with activity. Carnival preparations were underway, with multi-coloured stalls lining the Savannah’s perimeter, costumes being transported, and music trucks being positioned for the big road party on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. Nothing was still and the air was electric with anticipation — a rather striking change of scenery from wintry Paris.
She was enthralled at the energy of the people, intrigued by their dedication to the creative process in putting on the so-called “greatest show on earth”. In order to fully welcome her and solidify her experience, Sanz — along with K2K and their models — were invited to the French Embassy on Mary Street, St Clair to do a makeup demonstration, live sketching, and sample local and food entertainment.
The event was of course carnival themed, with masks and fluorescent banners which did not take away from the mansion’s elegance and regality. The small gathering at this colonial house on Mary Street consisted of other European diplomats and ambassadors from Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and others, as well as important financial and political figures in Trinidad.
Serge Lavroff, the French Ambassador, and his wife Caroline greeted their guests at the front steps with such warmth and pride in displaying how much Trinidad’s culture means to them.
Shortly after a few pleasantries and addresses from the Ambassador and the woman of the hour, the event officially kicked off with a demonstration from Sanz on a K2K model while a violinist played classics alongside her. The result was stunning. Sanz’s emphasis on contrast and colour was clear but subtle. The colours blended smoothly with the model’s skin, the end result augmenting her natural features.
Dany Sanz then goes on to tell her story. The main themes of her address are expansion, possibilities and life’s learning curve. She acknowledges the importance of the international exchange in the cosmetics industry, referring to her friend Pierron. Without her, she wouldn’t have learned about the vibrancy and dynamism of Trinidad’s artistic vision. She recognises that she is always learning, gaining new perspectives and styles as she travels. She puts competition on the back burner and embraces the variety of talents to which she has been exposed.
After her address, she started to sketch herself on a canvas. At first, the image is unfocused with its black charcoal lines going in every direction. However, a few minutes later, a face breathtakingly emerges — with fiery orange hair, eyes, long lashes, pouty lips and sharp cheekbones. What we saw was a beautiful creation in the moment and a demonstration of how she and others saw herself.
Indeed, the evening turned out to be a pleasant interlude before the commencement of the festivities in the coming week. Not only did Sanz get a taste of local art and fashion, but she emphasised how valuable it was for her to have the chance to further develop her ideas and in turn, the make-up industry in France.