BEIRUT: Fady Kataya doesn’t like the spotlight. “I like to be backstage,” the veteran makeup artist told The Daily Star. For over a decade, he has carefully danced around the spotlights trained on wispy models and blushing brides, preferring instead to embellish their visages from the wings. Now, Kataya is adding to his repertoire, opening an academy for promising beauticians. Courses will be held at Katatya’s elegant Beauty Lounge in Verdun, where the aesthete set up shop in 2008.
Sitting in front of a polished mirror with a candle burning nearby, Kataya explains what will set his school apart. “What makes it unique, first, is that I’m the teacher,” he said, with a semi-jest chuckle. “Second is that the academy is small,” he added. Enrollment will be capped at six people so Kataya can hone their talents individually.
At the heart of the curriculum is what Kataya likes to call “makeup couture,” a philosophy that combines artistry and the science of facial features.
With the panache of an expert comfortable in his craft, Kataya explains his simple philosophy: “The power of makeup lies in the technique and in knowing faces,” he said, clicking the heels of his patent leather wing-tip shoes.
Most makeup artists, Kataya explains, project their own tastes on their clients. “Today, I see a lot of makeup artists they don’t do the makeup for specially for [their clients], they do whatever is the trend,” he sighed.
“Sometimes the makeup artists says ‘I want to do your eyebrows straight,’ but she doesn’t have the face that comes with the straight look ... But makeup should be tailored to the face.”
For Kataya, a woman’s style is a combination of her physical features, her mode de vie and the image she is trying to convey at a given point in time.
“This is the idea of makeup couture,” he told The Daily Star. “You have to choose particular makeup for every occasion that suits the person.”
Kataya hopes that by teaching this ideology to a new generation of makeup artists, he will be able to change the way Lebanese women see themselves.
“I just don’t see a variety of beauty in Lebanon. Women have the same makeup and hair, and when something is coming into trend here everyone wants to do it, whether it suits them or not,” lamented the longtime champion of natural beauty.
“That’s what I’m looking for in my Beauty Academy and in teaching makeup couture: to see a variety of beauty in Lebanon,” he said.
His future students will have a crash-course in Kataya’s unique aesthetic approach. Five-week courses will involve 60 hours of in-house study, with the possibility of re-enrolling to pursue more advanced topics after completion. “The first class will be about how to know faces: the structures of the face, the eyebrows, the eyes, the mouth.”
“You have to know the features of a woman before you can apply her makeup,” Kataya said.
Kataya has been outspoken in criticizing plastic surgery. “Why go through all that trauma and pain that changes your features forever when you can just play with colors and mix techniques and change your look every day?” he wrote in a 2012 blog post.
“I want to add something to the industry: the idea that every woman has her own style. It’s not good for women to see someone else and say ‘I want to look like her.’”