In her latest video, set in a laundromat and seedy bar, raucous singer Elle King, 27, rocks a vintage fringe leather jacket and killer eyeliner all while employing a proton pack to get rid of some pesky ghosts. It all makes sense considering the song, “Good Girls,” is the third on the Ghostbusters: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack with the movie (starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon) hitting theaters Friday (July 15).
Billboard spoke exclusively with Michelle Clark, King’s makeup artist and stylist of more than two years about creating her signature smoky eye, being inspired by Dolly Parton and scoring the perfect vintage haul.
Elle’s new single is part of the new Ghostbusters film, which stars four women in the lead roles. Did that impact your approach to styling her and doing her makeup?
Absolutely. Right away, I think Elle was just a natural fit for the film and energy because she is a badass. When I got the treatment for the video shoot, it was a rock and roll meets, country and blues; which is Elle herself. So it wasn’t about changing the look, it was Elle being herself and I think that translates well.
What products did you use to create this makeup look?
For the bar scene, it was this dark bar where Elle gets there in the middle of the night and she has to bust up all these ghosts. She’s a badass, who gets to wear a proton pack, so she needs a dark, sexy and worn-in smoky eye.
I went in with MAC’s Blacktrack Fluid Liner as an eye shadow and smoked it out a little bit because this product is bullet proof. This scene took over 10 hours to film and there was no air conditioning, but it held up. Then I mixed two MAC pigments in Platinum and Bronze with their Carbon eye shadow, which created that gunmetal lid. We didn’t want it to look just black and flat, I wanted it to have some light reflection, especially the way the video was shot, it needed a little bit of brightness to create a more three-dimensional look. We used a little of MAC’s Cat’s Meow liner at the lash line and Extended Play mascara by MAC. I bought it in bulk because it’s the only thing that keeps Elle’s lashes up and curled, but will also stay on. I have seven tubes of backup just in case. We finished the lash look with MAC’s #36 lashes; it’s one our favorites mainly because they have a bit more of a feathery structure, but we usually trim the lashes to fit her outer part of her eye to help elongate it. The eye makeup was heavier in the bar scene, and it was softened just a bit in the laundromat scene.
What about her bold red lip?
We use MAC’s Prep+Prime Lip primer underneath. It’s the save all and like double stick tape for your lips. One of my favorite beauty secrets is if you wear matte liquid lipstick like Elle did in the video, you don’t have to remove the lipstick if you used this lip primer. You can add a layer of the lip primer and re-apply the matte lipstick over it. We use the #242 brush to apply Fashion Legacy Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolor. That’s a concealer brush, but I find that with a bigger brush it’s easier to apply and this one works great for the Cupid’s bow.
What about the nude lip from the bar scene?
We’re all about longevity, especially when dealing with the elements of heat, smoke and fake alcohol. I used Divine Divine Retro Matte Lipcolor, a candy pink color. The color is pretty bright and because of the blue lighting in the scene, it looks a lot nuder than it is, so we had to accommodate for that. We added Boy Bait Creamsheen glass, so it doesn’t look too dry and that formula doesn’t break down the lipstick.
You two have been working together for two years. Describe her go-to look.
Bare skin, that super bold, really thick, but very perfected cat eye paired with a lot of times a red lip. As our relationship has grown and how we kind of move forward together as far as styling goes, we’ve adapted her look a little bit. The eyeliner is still our dead on go-to, but it’s always going to be an eye focus.
If you look back on a lot of the looks that she’s worn, she usually has glitter, always lashes, always liner, if not liner, it’s a big smoky eye to bring out her blue eyes. It’s like they eat makeup saying, “Yes, please. Thank you, more.” It makes it hard not to do an eye look on her. We’ll change up the lip a lot. We’ve been doing more nude to balance out the super intense glittery liner, and it seems to work well.
Elle is one of the lucky ones who has really intense cheekbones, so we don’t do a lot of contouring, so I play up the highlight rather than the contour. I applied MAC Cream Color Base in a mix of Bamboo and Mid Tone Sepia with my fingers then buff with a brush. After contouring, I go in with my fingers and apply a mixture of Luna and Pearl Cream Color Base to give levels of sheen. I’ll use a sponge at the end to roll over the edges to make sure there isn’t a seam where the two products meet. Then I finish it off with a tiny amount of mixture with MAC Lipglass and Shine Mix Medium blended almost to give a wet effect without looking sweaty.
Let’s talk style. What was the inspiration for the vintage outfits?
We ended up using mainly pieces from our closets. The main style focus was Elle’s vintage leather jacket with fringe and patches. We went through and found a sheer and comfortable vintage t-shirt because we knew she wanted to roll up her sleeves when she put on the proton pack—a Laura Croft amazing badass vibe. We bought new Levi’s and paired with some boots we had. The headscarf from the laundromat scene was a nod to the retro feel, hence the red lip.
Where are some of the best vintage shops you two have found? Any tips?
We go vintage shopping in every city we visit including London, Paris, Minneapolis, Portland and Seattle. Do research online and find one store with great reviews then tell the owner exactly what you’re looking for and they can help lead you in the right direction. I think we both influence each other and the two of us are constantly adding to this wardrobe we found. It’s always about leather, fringe, feathers, shirts and any cool fabric we can get our hands on. And definitely sparkles because she’s got a little bit of a Dolly Parton influence in there. Rhinestones and shiny things make us happy.