Tucked away in a discreet penthouse on Melrose Place is Violet Grey—a studio and inspiration lab where beauty insiders come together to exchange ideas and create and test products. Together with editors Robin Black and Jessica Joffe, cofounders Cassandra Grey and Dany Levy have teamed with experts—in everything from makeup to nutrition—to answer your most daring beauty inquiries. Boasting a comprehensive archive of “style files” that include vintage editorials and catalogues of runway and red-carpet looks, Violet Grey is about both documenting the art of transformation and defining it.

Cassandra Grey, cofounder of Violet Grey

Violet Grey’s archive of interviews, inspiration looks and product recommendations can be found at VioletGrey.com. Below, the collective minds behind Team Violet offer solutions to your latest beauty quandaries.

Dear Violet;
Be completely honest with me: is the French manicure déclassé?
Sincerely,
Cecile de la Confused

Dear Cecile,
The French manicure has seen better days, but don’t be too discouraged—the only thing déclassé is a person who insists on being a conventional beauty. Although it may seem to you that the Frenchie has fallen entirely under the purview of the porn industry, if it’s just the tip you’re after, we can help you. Think of the red-dipped nails J.Lo wore for the Oscars. Now that’s a lady who doesn’t follow a rule she didn’t write herself, and to what fabulous effect! If you cling to the idea of a little graphic structure, for heaven’s sake, err on the side of caution. The line should subtly frame your nail. Less, in this case, is more. Always keep the base color as close to your flesh tone as possible and if you insist on a white tip, make sure it runs into the creamier end of things. Alternatively, you could do a half-moon manicure, filling in the base of your nail with a contrast color. We find a glossy nude nail can offset a vermillion rather nicely. And not just any product will suffice, which is why we defer to Chanel Beige No. 565— because if you insist on going nude, only Chanel will do.
Bonne chance, Team Violet

Dear Violet;
I like to wear a strong lip. It suits me and I’m not afraid. But every time I consider having a cocktail, the rim of the glass looks like a murder scene before I’ve even taken my first sip. And my mouth looks like someone gave me a Chelsea smile. Do I really have to lick the rim before I drink, or expire from dehydration? Please advise.
Awkwardly,
Potty Mouth

Dear Potty,
I commend you for your bravery. As Carole Lombard once said: “A woman’s first job is to choose the right shade of lipstick.” As such, we tend to stock up on Tom Ford’s beautifully packaged Violete Fatal lipstick. Makeup artist Robin Black suggests pairing it with MAC Pro Longwear Lip Pencil in More to Love. Another delightful option is Nars’ Schiap, a matte hot pink shade, that can be worn thin under gloss, or thick, paired with a bare eye to really pop. For a traditional red lip, she turns to Armani Red 401 and lines it with Nars Jungle Red. Instead of framing the lip as was once the case—and may still apply if you are ‘80s pop-star Nina Hagen—these pencils serve a much better purpose when filling in the whole lip, making for a rich pigment base. It prevents the lipstick from bleeding into fine lines around the edges of the mouth, and it will also keep the color looking solid, even as your lipstick begins to fade. Then just blot, cover with a tiny film of Laura Mercier translucent powder, and you’re golden. Another final piece of advice: Use a straw and a strategically employed linen napkin. 

L’Chaim!

Team Violet

Dear Violet;
As a man, I know I’m supposed to keep my beauty routine as simple as possible, which is why I’ve stopped shaving altogether. But tell me: is it rude of me to wear a beard in polite society?
Fondly,
Jack Lumber

Dear Jack,
First of all, it’s not a beauty routine. We think of male hygiene, personal upkeep and general civility as something akin to the pruning that chimpanzees do to one another. In other words: the polite minimum. The way you present yourself should have nothing to do with your own vanity and everything to do with consideration of others. We don’t worry if you have a crow’s nest hatching around your eye, a few rogue grey hairs or even dull skin. A beard can actually be an asset if you weren’t blessed with Montgomery Clift’s bone structure, or if every depilatory method gives you a rash. But even if your wife, girlfriend or lover doesn’t object to her delicate face getting roughed up every time she feels overcome with affection for you, you should consider how you might trim the thing. These products will help soften the blow: Kyoku Razor Repair Balm, Proraso Pre-Shave Crème, and finally, Geo F Trumper Extract of Limes Aftershave. We also recommend perusing the best of shaving equipment at BigleowChemists.com. Our dear pal Beau Brummel had this to say: “Civility may be truly said to cost nothing: if it does not meet with a good return, it at least leaves you in the most creditable position.”
Truly,
Team Violet

Photo: Everett Collection; Grey: Robin Black

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Tucked away in a discreet penthouse on Melrose Place is Violet Grey—a studio and inspiration lab where beauty insiders come together to exchange ideas and create and test products. Together with editors Robin Black and Jessica Joffe, cofounders Cassandra Grey and Dany Levy have teamed with experts—in everything from...