Sam Fine is an artist. His canvas? The faces of some of the world's most gorgeous women: Vanessa Williams, Iman, Tyra Banks, etc. In his 1999 book Fine Beauty , the handsome Chicago native explained how sisters can create red carpet worthy looks in the comfort of their own homes and his follow up video, The Basics of Beauty, addresses common concerns amongst African American women and breaks down the tools and techniques needed to create flawless faces.
The celebrity beauty king is wearing another crown these says: Creative Director of Fashion Fair, the legendary brand created by Johnson Publishing Company founder Eunice Johnson. One of the exciting offerings marking the prestige brand's 40th year is the Sam Fine Fashion Fair Supreme Color Collection, which debuted last month. Here, we caught up with Fine to discuss the new line, his thoughts about working with such a storied company and why Black women still need a a makeup brand to call their own.
EBONY: First of all, congratulations on your signature line! This has got to be an amazing time for you.
Sam Fine: Thank you, thank you. You can’t be a person of color or a makeup artist without being familiar with Fashion Fair. I’m a kid from Chicago, so of course I’d know about the Johnson legacy. I was raised around it. It was the Johnsons, Oprah and Michael Jordan! I mean, come on! I had the pleasure of working with Eunice Johnson for Ebony Fashion Fair ads with a few top models. You don’t realize that you’re in the presence of an icon and a legendary trailblazer until it’s too late.
EBONY: That’s exactly how I feel right now!
SF: Whatever! [Laughs] Working with her was so fun; it is so engrained in my memory. It was such a big event for me. I just felt like it was like a homecoming, and things were coming full circle for me [since working with her in the past]. So you can only imagine how I feel about becoming the Creative Director at Fashion Fair...They could have gone and picked up a beautiful celebrity or a top model, but they came to an authority. That was a huge feather in my cap.
EBONY: What is the difference between being the creative director of a beauty brand and being a spokesperson for a brand?
SF: It is very different. I feel like, in many ways, I was a talking head before. [As a spokesperson] you don’t have a part of the product process. So this is really an opportunity to put my fingerprints down in a way. To be able to have the first co-branded collection that they’ve done, during their 40th year in business is major.
EBONY: What do you feel the Sam Fine Signature Collection is offering to women of color that other brands are not?
SF: I’m a makeup artist. I shop everywhere. I have three sisters and a mom at home--- I know what it’s like shopping for color and high-end pigments and formulas [for Black women.] I always tell my clients, “You have to remember: women of color are ‘color already’.” Everything has to blend in with their already deeply hued backdrop. What’s different about my collection is that it’s highly pigmented. I know we hear “highly pigmented” a lot from many brands. But, I’d like to think that anyone who knows my work, from Iman to Jennifer Hudson, knows that I don’t skim.
EBONY: Yes, we know you don’t skim Sam!
SF: This collection is definitely a reflection of that return to color and really, it’s Fashion Fair’s legacy! I still have eye shadows that I used on Tyra from Fashion Fair when she was 21, when they were going for strong blues and I couldn’t really find a blue eye shadow [for Black women.] This isn’t anything new to Fashion Fair, but I don’t think the industry often thinks about women of color. It’s 2013, and we’re still an afterthought. They don’t base their formulations on thinking, “Is this brown going to show up against Iman’s skin?” I’m taking that mindset to the lab when I create products. I’m filling in some of the gaps that I needed as a makeup artist.
EBONY: How do you feel the brand's longtime customers will react to your new line?
SF: You know, I still want to court her. She is my mom, and she is my sister. Of course, my mom’s sitting there saying, “I’m not going to wear purple eye shadow, Sam." I get that. But I don’t think I did anything that would offend or distance myself from [FFC's] existing consumer. There are clearly beautiful reds, like the Dynasty Red (lipstick), and beautiful berries.
EBONY: Where do you think Black women are in regards to our confidence with our beauty?
SF: I think that they’ve become more confident. When you look at Rihanna