When I met the three sisters whose family owns Alcone, a makeup mecca in New York City, I was amazed at how different they all were. One is a mom in Connecticut, one a professional makeup artist, and one a self proclaimed “amateur” at makeup, yet all can tell you what foundation Kelly Ripa wears and which shadows made Kevyn Aucoin swoon. Not so amateur.
Originally named Paramount Theatrical Supplies in 1950, Alcone (later renamed for its founder, Alvin Cohen) has grown from selling eyelashes to showgirls in Times Square to being the go-to store for makeup artists and mavens alike with a steady catalog business and later a storefront location in New York City’s Chelsea in 1992. Many of the lines that they carry are available only through their store and the sisters are always searching past trends to find truly effective products. They may not be lines that you see in your local department store, but trust that you have seen them on the faces of models every month in your favorite fashion mag.
Just this past year they have opened up Alcone Uptown which makes the trip back North to the Theatre District on West 49th Street and it has a totally different feel from the downtown location. The original store looks like Miss. Havisham’s vanity with every imaginable shade of eyeshadow stacked in palettes and shelves crowded with various sizes of makeup remover and loose colored pigments. Alcone Uptown has all the goodies, but is literally full of sunshine and is much more consumer friendly since it’s easier to navigate. AND, they have a makeup studio in the lower level that opens up endless possibilites – lessons take place, makeup applications on Friday nights, and bridal parties get booked to fulfill every makeup whim you could possibly have!
Since there are countless products on their shelves I wanted to know what everyone’s favorites were.
Michele loves the Krylon DermaMini Palette (and I can vouch, it’s literally in every single makeup artist’s kit that I know) for its amount of colors and ease of use. Her other fave is il Makiage’s Absolute Purple Eyeshadow, “I love this color and the smoky look it creates.”
Maria is in love with the Skincare Line from Neoplus which uses animal placenta, “I noticed a difference in my skin right after application. I actually saw the results that it claims to produce.” TaUT Perfect Brow Control is perfect for keeping brows at bay and is the number one brow control product purchased by makeup artists at their store.
Maret’s top two are products people offer to buy off of her while she’s working as a makeup artist and she can’t imagine going to work without them. First is the Twissor which give the perfect snip to any facial hair (brows, beards, nose) without cutting the skin and second is Lip Chic, which seals lipcolor on for the day – a must for brides and fabulous TV actresses alike.
Staff faves are the Makeup Remover Cloths which require no water and are ordered in bulk for “The View“, “Regis and Kelly“, and “Good Morning America” just to name a few. And then there’s their sponges, which really deserve a fan club since they’re water based (so they don’t suck up all your foundation), non-latex, and biodegradable. They’re awesome. I know, an Ode to a Sponge sounds weird but try one and you’ll understand.
Want more fun? Check out an upcoming class – Maret has one every Monday night from 7-9pm called “Know it All” where she goes through each woman’s makeup bag, highlights the products and colors that work best for day and evening and teach the exact technique for perfect application. She’ll also recommend additional or alternative products to improve a beauty routine. Cost is $40, limited to 8 people, reservations required.
Kett Airbrush also has a standing class several times a month if you want to learn or perfect your airbrushing techniques. Call for details.
The prices are amazingly reasonable ($5 for beautiful shadows!!) and the no pressure sales technique will be a welcome change if you’re used to being bombarded by the gauntlet that is Bendel’s. The feel is intimate and warm, like you’re with your sisters!
Alcone Uptown is located at 322 West 49th Street and is open 11-6 Monday through Saturday. Contact them at (212) 757-3734 or at alconeco.com.