Princess Diana loved makeup. Whether it was for the red carpet or for relaxed lunches, she always wanted to look her best. And, thanks to her friend and legendary British makeup artist, Mary Greenwell, she always did.
“She did really good makeup,” says Greenwell, who has worked with everyone from Cate Blanchett to Lily James, as well as Meghan Markle. “I loved enhancing her beauty.” Famous for her bright blue eyes and flawless skin, she is a beauty who is back in the limelight thanks to the arrival of the fourth season of The Crown, rekindling Diana’s mania of the 1980s and 1990s, which exploded after the untimely death of the Princess in 1997.
But of course we shouldn’t believe everything we see, which is why we caught up with Greenwell for the real story behind Diana’s relationship with makeup, what she was like in person and how she would have adapted to today’s beauty landscape.
Can you tell us about your approach to makeup when you worked with Princess Diana?
There was no different creative process when working with the princess than with any other person. I mean, obviously he was one of the biggest celebrities I’ve ever worked with, so my focus when working with someone of that caliber, as in the caliber of a celebrity, is to make them feel relaxed and good. You have to understand that you are with someone who has their own personality and consider it at all times.
What did you want to convey with each look? Was it simply a matter of enhancing its natural beauty or adapting it to a specific event?
Both. If she was going to a red carpet event, then obviously you would consider it. If it was lunch, it would be a lot smoother. It depends on where he was going and what he was wearing. You always approach it as a new moment, every time, so to speak. I loved to enhance her beauty, make her look glamorous for the red carpet, and then make her look and feel relaxed in her own skin the rest of the time. She wore her makeup extremely well.
Diana, Princess of Wales at the 1996 MET Gala.
© New York Daily News
Did you take into consideration what it would look like in the photos the next day?
No, I always knew that it would look absolutely amazing in photos.
What were your favorite products to wear with her at that time?
This was 20 years ago, many of those products no longer exist. But always he looked great with a soft mouth, instead of a hard red. It looked amazing in red every now and then, but she looked lovely with lips in a dull blackberry. She had wonderful eyes that could be accentuated and her skin was amazing. So I pulled out his features the best I could. We wore more makeup at night and less during the day. My favorite makeup colors, still in effect today, are the ones that shade you: dark and light. That means tawny grays, browns, dark browns, creams, all natural skin colors.
Was Princess Diana interested in beauty?
Yes, he loved it. It was very holistic. He took care of himself extremely well. She was aware of herself, not in vain, but taking care of herself and the people around her.
What were some of the favorite looks you created for her?
When i use that amazing dress at the Serpentine Gallery , the shoulderless dress. The Met Ball in New York  was another. But you know, I did her makeup so many times for so many different things, and she always looked beautiful when she walked out the door. But it wasn’t a big deal, it was like hanging out with a good friend and making her look great before going out. That’s it. She had not yet become this icon.
Lord Palumbo greets Princess Diana, in a short black cocktail dress designed by Christina Stambolian, as she attends a gala at the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park on June 29, 1994 in London.
© Tim Graham
How would you describe Princess Diana?
She was beautiful, she was kind, she was sweet. She was incredibly generous and considerate. He was the first person to publicly hug someone with AIDS, which changed the world. I will never forget the experience of being with her. I am very honored. This was a woman who had her own personality and her own vision of how she wanted to see herself, so she could do her best. He was an inspiration to many, as much as any movie star.
How do you think it would have adapted to the beauty industry today?
She would have been one of the most glamorous and beautiful people.
How do you think the beauty industry has evolved since her death?
What has changed the beauty industry so much is Instagram. He turned everything around. He has created many famous artists. And now you can go to YouTube and learn so many different ways to apply makeup. The beauty completely exploded. Just think of all the new ranges of colors, textures and the inclusion of makeup for black skin, which is wonderful. “
Has Instagram changed your own aesthetic?
No, I have been here for a long time. People like the way I wear makeup or not.