Last week at the Avon Fall fashion preview, Asiance had a chance to chat with Jeannie Mai, a self declared foodie, “wear- a-pist”, makeup artist, celebrity stylist and philanthropist. Jeannie is best known as the hostess for the Style Network’s makeover show, “How do I Look?” where her role as a fashion interventionist completely transforms and makes over each contestant. Hailing from Northern California, Jeannie is of Chinese and Vietnamese descent and to this day draws from the solid values instilled in her by her parents. Here Jeannie tells us what her Fall essentials are, and what she does to make women feel beautiful, and what she loves most about being a foodie. www.iheartjeanniemai.com
ASIANCE: What do you think of the Avon Fall collection?
JM: I think the Avon Fall collection is sick. Not only is it affordable, but you’re filled with endless ways to personalize your fashion pieces. Every season I look for their convertible fashions, like their convertible trench coat and dress, and reversible fall faux fur vest. Pieces like that, I want women to feel like they’re not limited to buying that one piece and having to stick to that one trend but they can switch and change it and roll it into different seasons. Avon allows the everyday woman to wear fashionable pieces and have a style because there’s a difference between having fashion and having style. You buy fashion but you have to have style. I grew up with very humble spending. They taught me how to pick a piece and convert it and be creative with it.
ASIANCE: As host of “How do I Look”, how do you tap into one’s inner beauty to make them over?
JM: The very beginning of the show that the cameras don’t capture is me sitting with the person. What you see is 6 minutes of me on camera getting to know the guest but it’s really 45 minutes in real life where I’m asking them their story. Why did they get to where they are? What happened? Why are they dressing the way they do? Is there somebody in their life that made them feel less secure? Or Maybe they feel like they have to overcompensate by showing too much? When you hear a person’s story, you understand their psychology and the way they dress. The way you dress is the way you feel about your life. So most of the guests on our show, as much as it’s a bait to see, “Oh my god what is this person wearing next”, it’s very indicative of what all women experience, which is a form of insecurity. I do get in really deep with them and I love every single guest that we’ve had.
The second part of the show is the most telling, which is the psychology of style. I take them through a psychology experiment that gets them to show us what they are really doing to themselves. For instance one woman dressed in sizes that were six sizes too small for her because she thought it made her look skinnier. It’s hilarious! She’s got things oozing out on different sides and she doesn’t realize that it makes her look bigger. So I put her in front of six different women that were all different sizes and put them in different sized clothing from very, very tight to very loose and asked her to put them in order of size from smallest to largest. She put the women who were in the baggiest clothes as smallest and the tightest clothes as largest and said that was their order. Come to realize, every single one of those women was exactly her body type and those were her clothes. She didn’t even realize that that’s what she was doing to herself until she put those women in order and saw they were her same body size. She even pointed at the smallest one and said I wish I had her body and love her waist, but it was the same size body, she was a size 14.
ASIANCE: What is the biggest style mistake one makes?
JM: Not knowing their body size, not only for their figure but bra size. 98% of women are wearing the wrong bra size which is why they’re not enhancing their best cleavage or posture. Their shoulders are hunched over. They’re uncomfortable. Form fitting is second, if it doesn’t fit, it’s not fashion.
ASIANCE: As a makeup artist, how has your Asian background influenced your aesthetic?
JM: I really embrace my culture because I think we have the most unique types of faces to learn shadowing, contouring, lighting, highlighting. Because the typical Asian face is very flat, our eyelids are one lidded. We don’t have deep crevices for our eyes or very high noses, so you have to learn how to really work with lighting. To this day, I’ve got contour and shading in different places just to enhance my face and to highlight my favorite features. In doing that, it’s made me learn how to work with different ethnicities and different Asian ethnicities as well.
ASIANCE: What are the 5 items every woman should have this Fall?
JM: The classic trench coat. It’s a staple piece that dresses up any outfit and looks chic and is timeless. The second piece is a flatform boot- it’s a flat with a platform heel, under the knee over, or tall is fabulous. Anything with fur, even mink lined glasses, if you don’t have something with fur, even if it’s faux, you will miss out for Fall. Some type of animal print earring, necklace or ring, in an animal shape. It has to be from the jungle. If it’s ferocious, it’s for “wow” on you. Sick glasses, eyewear as an accessory piece, with a cat eye or box shape, figure out what works best for your face and even wear faux lenses and rock them out at the office. I think it will transform your look.
ASIANCE: What about your tattoo?
JM: It’s a cross. I have a lot of faith in my life and it’s a reminder of all the things that I’ve gone through to get to where I am right now. I’m very thankful and blessed to be in a therapeutic line of work where fashion is ‘wearapy.’ I get to make women feel better and stronger about themselves and I love working with Avon. That’s very indicative of the way that I was raised which was to be strong and confident no matter what I could afford and how creative I could get. No 2 pieces are worn the same way and everyone could afford to have style with Avon.
ASIANCE: You’re very into charitable work, and so is Avon, how does your philosophy coincide?
JM: I just recently celebrated a tour across America for the 125th year of women celebrating Avon. It’s unbelievable to see how a company has become what it is because of the women who work so hard who became their own entrepreneurs and CEOs of their own household form of Avon. 125 years is a really long time for a company to thrive and be so beautiful about independence. It makes me feel so proud to see that not only do they encourage women to be their own bosses but they give back, they’ve already raised over $750 million for breast cancer and women dealing with domestic violence. I’m a big supporter against human trafficking.
ASIANCE: What are your favorite types of food?
JM: Anything that’s exotic, I’m not a meat and potatoes girl. If it can come off of a cheek or sliced off a pork butt, its got to be spicy with 7 different chilies or throw a jalapeno in my drink. Those are the kinds of things that I love. I’m definitely a food diva. I’m also a foodie because I actually don’t look to magazines for my fashion and trends I look to food. I’m very inspired by looking at dishes and entrees.
Today I am dressed as a crème brulee. I’m saturated in a silky dish where its got the beautiful spillage of caramel sauce and the accents of jewelry are like the charred caramelization on top.