My Guru: San

Dateline NYC-YYC had the unprecedented pleasure of meeting UBER talented make up artist and PARFUMER ‘San’ Leonora last month at Henri Bendel, Manhattan.

His skills are truly formidable (especially armed with his Paula Dorf primers, concealers and array of brushes).

Frankly, I am a skeptic of most store “artists” (and, I’m using this term loosely as most either travel in a caravan nationally trying to pimp out their assigned lines for their per diem OR are glorified salespeople with relatively average abilities to apply makeup).

Overall, The primary GOAL is to ply the ‘customer’ (read that: ‘victim’) with layers of branded gunk in hopes that said “customer” will BITE (aka buy) on a few items.

Hence THEY will make a sale, earn their commission and the consumer can leave only to throw their pastes, shades, and shadows into a drawer to figure out someday.


For me: It was a crummy, wet day in NYC.

(This sounds like the prologue for a bad novel: note to self–save this line….)

Unable to score a taxi (and trust me, Chivalry REALLY IS dead at 5PM in that town when it rains).

After almost being impaled by three men with umbrellas in my final attempt at a ride to midtown, I relented and popped into Henri Bendel in the hopes that the drizzle would lighten up (or at least the crowds).

Unfortunately, Bendel is light years from what it once was (and not in a good way).

Still….It was interesting to see the fare and how disappointingly, in truth, it had changed from seven years ago when it was a cornucopia of emerging make up lines not yet mainstream enough to be boring, and other goodies that one could find nowhere else.

Now it is a struggling outpost of laminated and vertically striped products (probably produced someplace off Mott Street en masse) and more conventional staple products: Benefit, Nars….well, you know the drill. (or should if you’re reading this….)

The upper floors of the building that once housed Bendel’s cache of Kiki de Montparnasse, Rick Owens and Matthew Williamson are non existent.

I meandered through the maze of hair doo dads (not Cherry Chau) at the entrance and somehow (despite being “nailed” by a fragrance wielding “associate” who just about laid a bear trap at the front of her counter…) ….I stumbled on “San.”


with make-up artist San at Bendels

San is a past Master at the art of cosmetic application. He represents ‘Paula Dorf’ (and I personally hope SHE knows how LUCKY SHE IS TO HAVE HIM DO SO).

He routinely spruces up the Today Show Hosts ‘pre programme’ to make them glow a bit more radiantly for the viewers in those wee filming hours.

For my part, I was familiar with the Dorf line (wish she’d call it something else…) from years prior.

Miracle: This man erased years from my face.

Years. How? (still not sure, but I bought it ALL….GRATEFULLY)

And, if you are at all interested in the joys of individual lashes, this man gives Shu a run for his money—and I am well versed in the Tokyo Lash Bar fare….

Makeup by San

Now, as Providence would have it, I was due to attend: (read that ‘an hour late to arrive for’)
(drumroll please)–

THE Six Scents Parfums & Elements Showcase 2011 Official Launch Reception party hosted that evening by Joseph Quartana and Steven Sang at ‘The Yard’ of the Soho Grand Hotel.

with Joseph and San 18 in NYC

Well…coincidentally…..SAN had left Memphis in 2006 for the Big Apple to focus on his own career developing specialty Fragrances. His first scent, “Ruby” was named after his grandmother-and marketed successfully at Jeffrey’s, Takashimaya, NYC, as well as at BENDEL!

And, San had a vial of his #18 on hand.

#18 is a spritz of Jasmine, White Tea, Basil and Lime.
Truly, while I SHOULD (I’m told) have a fragrance (other than ‘Axe’ which my sons squeal in horror if I borrow….)….well, I Don’t. The closest I’ve come was an Avon purchase of ‘Charisma’ when I was ten…..sigh.

But YOU (‘Stylish Reader’) probably do…..

So– whether you are hunting for a new look or want to be the first in your Prefecture to sport the scent du jour (San #18 is much better than Cesium 137)–

Contact SAN-san (pardon the pun):

San, Viggo & Associates
Make-Up Artists, Personal Shoppers, Stylists, Wardrobe Consultants


Henri Bendel
712 Fifth Avenue

..and, in the event that you really, REALLY can’t live without those vertically striped cosmetic bags

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