Gisel Calvillo, MAC PRO Senior Artist, is happy to be in Jamaica and that Jamaican women are thrilled that MAC Cosmetics will set up shop in Kingston by December. We meet the petite and beautiful Calvillo, dressed in a gorgeous black Zara sheer dress, for cocktails ahead of a media briefing at the Spanish Court Hotel last Thursday evening. Calvillo, who is two days away from heading to the City of Lights to work backstage on models for Paris Fashion Week, is excited to see the five-year-in-the-making plan of opening a MAC store in Jamaica nearing completion. Glass of bubbly not far from hand, the genial make-up artist settles into a chair to share even more.
What are you sipping?
As a make-up artist, who were you most excited to work with?
A lot of the stuff I've actually done have been events. I have done the Latin Grammys and the MTV Awards. You get a little bit of everybody. My portfolio really goes into fashion, so I have done a lot of work backstage on the top models' make-up for fashion shows. I was actually pretty blown away working at the Latin Grammys. I was right there in front of the stage. I touched up Ricky Martin's make-up, I got to see Marc Anthony, and one of my fave bands, Mana, performed, so being there was really exciting.
Flats or stilettos?
Stilettos, always. They change your posture and make you feel more feminine.
Jeans or an LBD?
A LBD. I think it's simple and more sexy.
What's on your iPod playlist right now?
My God, everything. I Iove Sade, the Mexican rock band Mana, Mozart, and Beethoven. I have jazz on there so my music tastes are very mixed.
What's in your handbag?
My MAC concealer, the MAC Nicki Minaj hot pink lipstick, BlackBerry, and iPad.
What are your three must-have accessories?
Jeans, believe it or not — Seven [jeans] work pretty well for women with a little bit of curves, and True Religion, too; mascara; and I love lipstick, particularly MAC's Ruby Woo, which is a really bright red.
Who last made you laugh so hard it hurt?
My sister Janet, she's really funny.
When last did you have a good cry?
I try to do (that) once a month to cleanse myself; the last time I teared up was watching the movie Hunger Games on a plane ride. I tried not to be too dramatic. It was after one of the young characters died; it just broke my heart a little.
Where's your go-to place when you want to feel centred?
I run. Any park where there are trees or anywhere near a lake makes me very happy.
Why did MAC decide to set up shop in Jamaica?
Our biggest consumers right now are actually people who love dressing up, going out and who know make-up. I think Caribbean and Latin women celebrate themselves and love to wear make-up, so it was a no-brainer when we figured Jamaica and MAC.
Is Jamaica part of a larger plan to expand across the Caribbean?
Of course, we actually already have several doors in the Caribbean and Jamaica was a project that I had been on board with the MAC international team that was five years in the making. It's definitely a big part of our Caribbean initiative; and I think overall again because women in the Caribbean love colour and celebrate beauty, opening shop here is perfect.
So, where next will MAC be looking to lay roots?
Jamaica is our biggest location just now and we are also heading into Guadeloupe and Martinique.
Who's your business idol?
Steve Jobs. He was so interesting. I read his biography by Walter Isaacson and you got a good inside scoop on him. I never knew that he went to India and he was into spirituality and finding himself. My favourite quote from him was about "letting your imagination run and letting it be who you are and somehow your soul already knows that. I think that if you follow whatever you want to do life will help guide you through that I admire anyone who can push that edge.
How would you define your personal style?
It changes and depends on the day and what I am feeling. I can be hippie chic. I like to be casual, and what's casual for me for other people is really dressed up. I love colour, too. Jeans and a T-shirt and a nice pair of shoes never go bad. I also love to be feminine, so I love dresses. I love Marchesa and Lanvin.
What fashionable indulgence did you last swipe your plastic for?
I bought myself a Versace suit. I figured if you are going to go for a nice black tailored suit, do it right.
If you could hand-pick any celeb to be a MAC spokesmodel, who tops your wish list?
What is funny is that right now we have Nicki Minaj and Ricky Martin as our spokespersons for Viva Glam and they were already at the top of my list. I really admire Ricky Martin and I think he's an exceptional person and has a warmth about him. Even though it's a male, I think it's quite iconic. But as far as beauty, I think Natalie Portman is absolutely gorgeous. I think she has a perfectly symmetrical face. When you think of who can I get my hands on in terms of make-up, she's always at the top of my list.
How has your trip to Jamaica been so far?
I've actually been in the hotel for most of the day, so I haven't gone out. But I do know that I will be coming back and I was really impressed that when I got in at immigration, the woman greeted me and said 'Welcome', and I usually never get that, so even for that small detail. And everybody here has been extremely cordial and so nice.
What's your idea of the perfect man?
I am still trying to figure that one out. I'm going to sound like a book but just being honest, whether he's into me just for the moment or long-term. He has to be hard- working and ambitious, and he has to be funny. Funnily enough, we work in this industry but I think I'm actually more attracted to the really intelligent men; which isn't to say that they aren't in my field of work, but it's usually the really good- looking ones. But I'll take brains over good looks any day.
What's your idea of the perfect date?
Just to have a good time, no pressure. I was raised Mexican, both my parents are, and I was actually born there myself, and so for me 'date' is such a big American word. It's more of making friends and hanging out and I associate 'date' with being formal. But as long as It doesn't feel formal that would be my ideal.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I have been dabbling more into painting because I am also an abstract painter. I think I am opening myself up more to sharing my art with people, so hopefully I will showcase at a gallery in Paris. I know it's ambitious.