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What is it about Valley girls and makeup?In September, the seemingly unhip Canoga Park got its very own Napoleon Perdis cosmetic boutique, the first standalone shop from the company in the U.S., forcing makeup junkies to drive in from all over L.A. Since its American launch at Saks department stores in 2005, the Aussie company, started by celeb makeup artist Perdis, has won a devoted following, including Desperate Housewives’ Teri Hatcher and Nicollette Sheridan, Lost’s Evangeline Lilly, supermodel Gemma Ward, and actress-on-the-rise Melissa George. The Canoga Park shop, in the ever-more-upscale Westfield Topanga center, looks like a mod boudoir, with black-and-white-striped walls, chandeliers, candy-colored lamps, and little mirrored vanity tables where clients can try out rich-colored eye shadows and lip-plumping glosses. Unlike Sephora, where it’s hard to find really knowledgeable salespeople, this shop has makeup artists who have learned many of Perdis’ secrets and know how to make you look your best.
Perdis, whose family came to Australia from Greece, grew up in a poor suburb of Sydney dreaming of a luxe life and a color palette far from the one offered by his surroundings. As a makeup artist, he saw how a person could be changed with an eye-shadow brush stroke. He launched his first small makeup studio in Leichhardt, Australia, in 1992. Three years later, he debuted his first concept store in Sydney, showing off his own full line. Bold use of color emerged as his trademark. And when he comes up with hints and tips, he doesn’t wait to put them in a book; he has them printed right there on the item’s packaging.
Perdis, who lives part time in Los Angeles, is often inspired by his sometime home. His fall beauty report is titled “A Walk in Griffith Park” and features nude shades with splashes of color. This spring, he says women will get “handsome” with thick eyebrows and long, curly lashes, the kind you’re jealous of your boyfriend for having. Envy no more — now you can fake it with Perdis’ false lashes. The top-selling foundation is China Doll (which dries to a matte-powder finish); it has sun protection and lots of coverage, like airbrushing for the face. No wonder so many actresses look picture perfect on Access Hollywood. Along with sun protection, Perdis came up with a line of bronzer products called Brazil Bound, so you can still look like a sun-kissed glamazon but without the age spots. His mascaras build lashes without too much clumping, and his best-selling lip lacquer doesn’t screw around. It’s a huge tube of shine that really does give you at least the illusion of a poutier pout — and without invoking Melanie Griffith’s or Lara Flynn Boyle’s injected puckers. Perdis’ signature bold eye colors — turquoise, rich burgundy and canary yellow — are perfect when you want to stand out in a crowd and channel your inner celebrity.
Perdis, of course, isn’t satisfied with just beautifying the Valley. He opened a shop in Century City two weeks ago, and a Hollywood shop is slated to open in February, which will also house his Makeup Academy, a training facility for professionals and civilian dabblers alike. More stores will open across the country next year, and his worldwide reach is growing. He’s building nothing less than a makeup empire. What do you expect from a man named Napoleon?
Napoleon Perdis standalone stores: Westfield Topanga center, 6600 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Canoga Park, (818) 715-9911; Century City Westfield Center, 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (310) 203-9911. The Hollywood Concept Store + Makeup Academy opens February 2007 at 6621 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.