By Kate Harvie
With the premiere of perennial TV favorite “American’s Next Top Model” (which now airs in 107 countries) came the launch of Manual Override, the cosmetics line from makeup artist and photoshoot art director, Jay Manuel.
The brand launched with enormous excitement on QVC with a smart strategy: introduce a few products that will fit seamlessly into a woman’s cosmetic routine, enhancing her existing regimen and thus her total look. In Jay’s words, “Manual Override was designed to be complementary to the products you are already using, supercharging your signature look.”
I spoke with Jay from his home in New York right after our Fashion Week, which found him juggling an ever-growing TV schedule, his product launch, and his current “Top Model” duties, including judging and acting as creative director as well as overseeing hair, makeup, set designers, and photographers. For E!, he was one of the hosts for the Style Network’s “Style Invades New York Fashion Week,” and his eponymous show, “Style Her Famous,” also airs on the same channel. On this new show, which is not about creating celebrity copycats, Jay and his expert team will utilize the stars’ tricks and tips to achieve subtle, star-making style. The end result is a red carpet-ready woman who knows how to choose looks that complement her figure and her life. Such budding icons as Reese Witherspoon, Jessica Alba, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Halle Berry to name a few, provide the celebrity inspiration. Jay is using Manual Override products on the show.
To develop these products, Jay channeled his expertise and experience, drawing from his 15 years as a makeup artist. His understanding of women and faces is deep, and he learned about lighting and photography from masters such as Richard Avedon, Francesco Scavullo, and Herb Ritts, who was the photographer on Jay’s first big commercial. Jay draws inspiration from art and beauty, including the museums of Europe. He has worked with a who’s who of gorgeous people, including Tyra Banks, Alicia Silverstone and Jennifer Lopez. Impressed yet?! Jay’s products highlight the complexion and enhance facial features like lips and brows.
Faithful BeautyNews readers know that we test products exhaustively. I put Jay’s Prepare Silicone Primer through the paces of a 14-hour day and I didn’t need to reapply my foundation once. Jay singles out silicone technology as one of the best innovations in the last few years. Silicone’s infusion into products allows foundation to stay put and for skin aeration and protection. The formula contains no water and uses a combination of cream and high quality silicone – it’s great for oily and dry skins. Its texture is not as dense as some silicone primers on the market; its lightness belies its effectiveness. And it’s oil-free, as are all the products in the Manual Override collection.
If I had to choose a star product from the Manual Override collection, it would be Radiant Dimension Face Building Powder. This pressed powder/bronzer duo is available in four shades and works brilliantly as a foundation alternative. The silken powder possesses a silicone and squalane (a hydrating ingredient that comes from olives) base. It glides on beautifully with a sponge or brush (such as the Radiant Dimension Powder Brush). The bronzer is a balanced combination of gold and finely milled pearl, solving the too-orange/too-brown issue caused by so many bronzers. I couldn’t believe that such a soft powder imparted such a comprehensive coverage. To achieve the most natural sun-kissed look, dust the bronzer along the hairline, around the perimeter of the face, and down the cheekbones and nose. The four shades work for a range of skin tones, from porcelain to cocoa.
If you’re like me, you have more lip colors than anything else in your kit. They’re fun, they lift the mood, and they can update your look instantly. Jay has created Lip Boost Compact with Lip Shimmers and Sealer (available in Precious Pink and Sugar Coat) for those of us who want to add exponentially to our lip color collections. You use this palette in two different ways: 1) apply the sealer first and then top it with one of the silicone-based powdered lip colors (shown above clockwise from the upper left hand corner: Sugar Coat, Copper Kiss, Precious Pink, Mocha); or 2) apply your lipstick, then the lip color and then the sealer. The silicone in the lip shimmer helps the color to last and keeps lips hydrated while the powders add the appearance of volume to the lip.
Other products in the collection include Conceal Eye Concealer Wand, with a unique applicator that locks to prevent leaking in your bag or case, Five-Piece Perfect Brow Kit (which includes tweezers, salon scissors, brow brush, brow gel, pencil, and step-by-step guide and comes in Taupe and Brunette), and a Four-Piece Essentials Preview Kit that contains Moisturize Revitalizing Cream (infused with silicone and vitamins). More products are coming – Jay wanted to start with the essentials.
Jay shared his vision for Spring 2007’s color story: we’ll see looks that focus on minimalism. The ”Glam Renaissance” face will feature finished skin, and emphasis on the eyes : a smoky eye done with color (eggplant, olive, etc. instead of with black), eyes rimmed with black liner, and lots of mascara.
Manual Override showcases Jay’s versatility and commitment to what he calls ”the business of managing the aesthetic.” Between the products and ”Style Her Famous,” Jay is making what’s possible on the red carpet and the runway available to women everywhere.
Cycle Seven of “American’s Top Model” airs on the CW Network, at 8pm EST on Wednesdays. Manual Override is available on QVC and Jay Manuel hosts “Style Her Famous” for the Style Network; it airs at 10pm EST on Mondays. For more information on Manual Override Cosmetics, visit http://www.ManualOverrideCosmetics.com.