Matte Like You Mean It with Kevyn Aucoin Velvet Lip Paints & Head Makeup Artist Drita Paljevic

Some people wear their hearts on their sleeves, I wear mine on my lips. Whatever my mood, however mercurial and capricious, the feeling is advertised on my pout. To find a match for my swings from coy sex-kitten, to prickly modern goth, realpolitik city girl, and to self-loathing writer behind on deadlines, I need a lipstick that’s bold, long-wearing, and vivid, all while giving my smile a bit of tender-loving care. And not the all too popular formulations that dry down to a chalky finish and leave my pucker too flakey for a kiss when the moodiness settles and passion strikes. I’ve been looking for the perfect Platonic matte lippie most of my adult life. Given the obsession with all things glossy and radiant over the last few years, I’d given up all hope, until this month. Like six early Christmas gifts, I’ve finally found it – the newly launched Kevyn Aucoin Velvet Lip Paint collection.

Complete with a range of 6 shades including nudes, reds, a pink, and a burgundy, the Velvet Lip Paints promise a perfect palette for achieving any fashion-forward matte lip. A permanent addition to the legendary luxury collection, these mattes for the future carry on the brand’s legacy for trail-blazing makeup with a nod to classic beauty looks and next-level formulations.

The six ultra-pigmented, yet weightless shades pamper, hydrate, and moisturize the lips with skincare-level ingredients. The clean combination of hyaluronic acid and shea butter found in serums and moisturizers means these lippies are as nourishing as they are vivid. The mix of the highest quality pigments sourced from Japan means that with just one swipe with the advanced-tech petal applicator, lips are bathed and saturated in vibrant color that doesn’t transfer or smudge. On the lips, it feels like a serum, so hydrating I was skeptical it would ever dry down to anything resembling a matte. After 60 seconds, my worries vanished. With just a quick pass of the Velvet Lip shade (or shades) chosen for that mood, I was rewarded with the trifecta of lip care, a plump, smooth, vibrant pout that lasts all day.

Down to brass tacks, let’s talk shades and application. Though a classic blue-toned red is the most popular lipstick shade in history, it’s also one of the more elusive colors to blend. On a quest to perfect a red worthy of the Kevyn Aucoin Beauty brand, Head Makeup Artist Drita Paljevic, searched high and low for the best pigments in the beautysphere to deliver a bright crimson that remains that way when dried down. The resulting shade, Stunning, is in fact stunning. It’s the red of reds. Whether you’re channeling Parisian It Girl, Retro Pinup Glam, Modern Minimalist or your beauty quest is taking you into new territory, Stunning is the perfect red. If looking for a darker, brown-toned red, Striking offers a similar color payoff. Drita recommends combining both – overlining with Striking and filling in with Stunning for a show-stopping red ombre lip perfect for holiday parties.

When you’re in a more mellow mood, the collection also offers two nudes. Fabulous, a pale, peachy pink, and Enchanting, a neutral mauve for a minimalist beat. Similar to the reds, the combo of nudes is tailor-made for an ombre rose-bud lippie. When feeling flirtatious and deep in the throes of sex-kittendom, you can opt for the bright pink Expressive. Feeling the full witchy vibe of Scorpio season, the deep plum You-Phoria is modern goth made fashion. Once you perfect the matte lip of your dreams with Velvet Lip Paint of choice, because everyone will ask what you’re wearing, Kevyn Aucoin Beauty has curated the Luscious Lip Duo set for holiday gifting season. It includes a lip-liner and 3 shades: Fabulous, Enchanting, and Striking.

So thrilled to have discovered such a perfect liquid matte lip, I had to pluck the brain of the Head Makeup Artist Drita who formulated and brought it to the market for beauty warriors like me. With a list of celebrity clients the likes of Bebe Rexha, “Real Housewives” stars Jennifer Aydin and Dolores Catania, and many of the “Bachelor Nation” cast members, Drita is a true artist, master, and believer in the transformative power of a good face beat.

Originally on the MBA track, Drita was lured by the aesthetic playfulness of makeup into a whole new career trajectory after a quick purchase at Bloomingdale’s flagship in NYC. After stints there and the luxury shopping mecca Bergdorf Goodman, she joined the staff of the iconic prestige brand. 16 years and dozens of celeb clients later, Drita knows a lot about the quality, wearability, and diversity essential to a makeup routine and luxury brand.

My Q&A with Kevyn Aucoin Beauty Head Makeup Artist Drita Paljevic:

Q: After many years of glossy lips and heavy highlighting, to what do you attribute the return to matte shades for eyes and lips?

A: Yes, mattes are back. Matte looks with high-quality pigments will always be the most classic makeup style. Especially for eye looks, high-quality, finely-milled, true-color, pressed eye shadow pigment is the best way to achieve the modern contour Kevyn Aucoin is known for. Stay tuned, we’ll be launching new matte products that you will not want to miss in the New Year.

Q: In addition to clean formulations and sustainable practices, diversity is one of the hottest trends in beauty and wellness. How does Kevyn Aucoin Beauty approach/embrace diversity?

A: Kevyn Aucoin himself and Kevyn Aucoin Beauty have always been ahead of the curve and about diversity, before other brands embraced it. Kevyn’s best-selling book “Face Forward” was like no other when it was released. On the cover, two models side by side, one black, one white, with the same glam look and modern contour to show their features proves that beauty is universal, for everyone.

Q: The beauty industry is sometimes criticized for fostering women’s insecurities about their appearance and exploiting that insecurity for profit, while others see the beauty industry as empowering. Where do you fall in this debate?

A: Whenever I hear those kinds of comments it saddens me to know that some women are missing out on the fun of makeup. To them I would say, please just try a little bit. Let me show you how fun and liberating makeup and all the looks can be. The beauty of makeup artistry, and yes it is an art, is that it’s not about imposing a rigid beauty standard, but about helping women find their best looks, playing up their inner beauty. “Face Forward” with all the looks is a testament to that. It shows that anyone with the right techniques and makeup can look like Marilyn Monroe or Liz Taylor.

Q: What phrase or slogan best articulates what Kevyn Aucoin Beauty is all about?

A: The founder of the brand, Kevyn Aucoin, was famous for his takes on beauty and the transformative power of make-up. He would always say “Beauty belongs to the brave.” Our makeup emboldens and empowers women to be their best, most beautiful selves. To me, that’s bravery.

Personalize your sculpting ritual and confidently own your unique features with Kevyn Aucoin Beauty’s new Signature Sculpting Sticks collection.

Gesha-Marie Bland


Not bland at all. Gesha-Marie Bland is an essayist, Vanity Fair-published film and television writer, and unrepentant beauty junkie who jumpstarted her career at NYU’s Master’s Program in Cinema Studies. In homage to her beauty icons Jeanne Moreau, Dolly Parton, and Grace Jones, she is forever in search of the perfect cat-eye liner, a killer pair of heels, and unforgettable statement accessories. Currently NYC-based, this dual American-French citizen still wears all-black and has a soft spot for clean beauty, pharmaceutical-grade actives, and most ingredients sourced from vineyards in the south of France. She loves New Wave cinema, Mary Gaitskill’s fiction, Spain, and matcha double-shots. After selling "The Ripper," her Alexander McQueen-Issie Blow biopic to the Cannes-winning production company Maven Pictures, she remains convinced fashion and couture are the next frontiers for edgy cinematic stories.