“I love the transformative power of makeup,” says Adriana Aude Cooke, who sits across from me for lunch at Nabuki on a cold Tuesday in January. We grab a table up front, looking out on First Street, and our boots drip on the floor below from the snow we picked up on our way in. Adriana orders a Hot & Sour Soup to start, and before it even arrives, I’m already asking the model and makeup artist her best tips.
Adriana is well known in the Chicago beauty scene. She began her career as a model in New York, but the unpredictable nature of modeling led her to look for more secure work, and she shifted her focus to makeup. In New York, she worked with notable artists including Kevyn Aucoin, Dick Page, and Pat McGrath, and she landed work on the set of The Today Show and America’s Next Top Model before the Midwest native settled back in Chicago in 2004. She’s worked as an independent makeup artist for more than 10 years, and she’s been featured in national magazines like Allure and Cosmopolitan and more local press including Daily Candy for her consistent, expert, honest approach to makeup. “Women’s makeup should bring out their best features,” says the 37-year-old mother of two. “It should help you see how beautiful a woman looks, not how beautiful her makeup looks.”
That’s the message she’s been trying to spread to women in Hinsdale and the western suburbs with her signature personal shopping service since she moved here two years ago. From our table, we have a clear view of Bluemercury next door—“my home away from home,” Adriana says. It’s the first place she takes all her clients and it carries many of her favorite brands including Laura Mercier and NARS. Our sushi rolls arrive, and Adriana starts to explain the details of her shopping service.
First, Adriana comes to your house and rifles through your makeup, ditching anything that’s outdated or unused. “Most people don’t know makeup has an expiration date,” she says. Then, she asks questions. What colors do you like? How confident are you in your application skills? What’s your lifestyle like? Adriana has little ones, so she’s empathetic to women who don’t have a lot of time to spend in front of the mirror. Then they shop. “I work with all budgets,” she says, so while she’d like to stock their cabinets with Laura Mercier, Tom Ford, and Armani products, she works within restraints. In fact, Target is often a stop. Then, it’s application time. A full lesson often takes more than two hours, and Adriana is adamant that clients do the work. “After I leave, they need to know how to do this on their own,” she says.
Throughout lunch, I’ve been picking up some of Adriana’s most helpful pointers. “Laura Mercier’s Secret Camouflage Concealer is something I’ll always have in my kit.” “Lipstick should translate to your mood.” “Brows are so important. They frame your face and give you eyes.” “As you age, you should adjust your foundation formulas. Anything matte is going to accentuate fine lines.” “Learn how to apply eyeliner well. Keeping a well-defined eye is important no matter your age.” I ask what she’s wearing today, and it follows her basic formula she suggests for all women: Tinted moisturizer followed by concealer. A touch of bronzer. Sheer pink blush and a little eyeliner. Mascara. And most importantly: perfectly shaped brows.
As lunch begins to wrap up, I remember I wanted to ask her about what makeup trends she likes for the New Year. I should have expected her answer because it’s her fundamental approach to makeup: “Just stick to the basics. When you come to me, you find out how to do a beautiful, consistent look. I avoid the trends.” Before we leave, Adriana makes one final plea. She helps women transform what they look like on the outside, but feeling beautiful starts from within, she says. “Women have these hang-ups that even I as a professional can’t see sometimes. I want to help them rid them of those issues, but sometimes I just want to slap them and say, ‘Love yourself.’”
– Elizabeth Hope // Illustration by Kristen Ulve