Today marks the 80th birthday of Shu Uemura, a man who truly was a legend in the world of cosmetics. Somehow he went from a teenager with dreams of stardom to an internationally renowned makeup artist with his own line and school.
As a teen Mr. Uemura had dreamed of becoming an actor. However, he was bedridden with an illness which left him weak and made him reconsider his career choice. He opted for the less physically demanding but still creative career of a makeup artist. He was the only male in his class of 130 at the Tokyo Beauty Academy, which likely served him very well as he was chosen when a Hollywood makeup artist (in town filming Joe Butterfly) came to the school looking for a male assistant.
In 1964 Mr. Uemura's biggest break, which catapulted him to Makeup Stardom was his role in creating Shirley MacLaine's look for Geisha. It was unheard of to cross ethnic lines, and he was able to transform Shirley into someone that actually looked Japanese. Mr. Uemura quickly became a Hollywood favorite, particularly of Frank Sinatra. Sinatra even presented him with a makeup case enscribed with "shu shu baby" during the shooting of Only the Brave.
In 1965 a triumphant Uemura returned to Japan, where he created the Shu Uemura Make-Up Institute, the first Hollywood style make-up studio in Japan. He also began to import favorite American makeup products to Japan, which escalated demand like crazy for these products. He created JM Laboratories in 1971 to create skincare products in-house. He first opened the Omotesando boutique in 1983 and which lead to the opening of similar boutiques in Paris, New York, LA, Taiwan, Milan and London in 1986.
Today Shu Uemura is known for its cutting edge products and innovations such as the Lash Bar, Hybrid Pigments in the Rouge Unlimited Collection and Depsea Water.