Jennifer Chen’s childhood memories of Florida are a mix of fashion, flea markets, antiques and her mother’s brightly coloured lipsticks and blush. Although she was intrigued by her mother’s makeup routine and use of eye shadow colours, Jennifer resisted what seemed like a feminine rite of passage in her family. “I went through a tomboy phase and found makeup very girly and unnatural.” In fact, on their way to a wedding, Jennifer’s mother insisted that she compromise by wearing powder at the very least. A quick stop at the drug store and Jennifer was applying the first product that was all her own – and in the wrong shade!
Jennifer credits her mother, aunt and godfather for her fashion sensibility. At a young age, they introduced her to designers and the idea of having style. A fascinating kind of magic unfolded as she spent endless hours flipping through art and fashion magazines at the local bookstore. Watching fashion coverage on television revealed a world starkly contrasting Jennifer’s small town, where cows and horses grazed in her neighbours’ backyard. This struck a chord and she decided that she wanted to be a part of that world.
High school offered new opportunities for Jennifer to merge art and fashion within her art work. At the same time, she was reflecting her art work onto herself through her personal style and image. Inspired by the magicians working behind-the-scenes on editorials and shows, Jennifer began experimenting with makeup brands, shades and formulas using herself as the test model. She discovered that makeup was another way to unleash her creative visions. Impressed by Jennifer’s flirtations with her looks, friends became customers, seeking beauty advice and enlisting her services for school dances. Soon Jennifer was working at annual hair conventions in Orlando.
Encouraged by M∙A∙C artists at her local store, Jennifer found the third time applying for a part-time position was the charm. She committed herself to her craft, taking jobs in restaurants to augment her prized 15-hour shift. Soon, Jennifer dropped the other jobs and transferred locations, becoming a full-time artist at the new Pro store in Orlando.
Jennifer leaped at the chance to work at the SoHo location in New York. She dove into fashion shoots and shows – from Italian Vogue, Marie Claire and an H & M campaign to MTV – and forged strong relationships within M∙A∙C and the fashion industry. After the invaluable education that only New York can deliver, the excitement of her next move is absolutely pulsating.
As Senior Artist for China, Jennifer transplanted to Shanghai, ready to share her talent while absorbing long standing aesthetic influences first-hand. The subtle influence of Chinese beauty aesthetics continues to inform the ways Jennifer challenges notions of beauty and gender. According to Jennifer it takes more than just leaping to make it work. “You can’t expect to jump from 1 to 10 without putting in extra time and effort,” she explains. “All eyes are on China right now; I’m excited to be a part of this moment with the brand.”
Watch and Learn: Apply False Lashes with M·A·C Senior Artist Jennifer Chen.