Just off a busy Anaheim city street is Mama Cozza’s Italian restaurant, a local California gem close to Gwen Stefani’s heart. It’s where Stefani’s parents had their first date, and it happens to be where the Grammy Award-winning singer chose to host a lunch — checkered tablecloths, fried ravioli, and all — in early March to celebrate the launch of her new makeup line, GXVE.
“Makeup gives people power and it makes people feel a certain way,” says Stefani of the motivation behind launching the brand, pronounced “give.” “I know what it does for me and I just want to share that. I’ve also signed my name Gx my whole life, which is like G with a kiss.” (Hence the name GXVE.)
Although Stefani’s career has spanned decades, her iconic part-goth, part-glam personal style has remained relatively unchanged. (Case in point: At the interview, the 52-year old was sporting the same red lip, crisp cat eye, and sharp brows that have been mainstays in her beauty routine since the ’90s.) It makes sense, then, that Stefani’s makeup collection is very on brand: It features two brow products, a priming face oil, an eyeshadow palette, eyeliner pencil, and three formulations of her signature red lip color.
Here, Stefani talks about her lifelong love affair with makeup, her beauty rituals, and her honest thoughts on the return of ’90s trends.
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What’s the inspiration behind the GXVE line?
I’ve always been a beauty girl before anything else. I remember being 5 years old and begging my friend Amy to ask her mom to let us play with her Mary Kay makeup. Then, when I was 19 or 20, I worked the makeup counter at the Anaheim Hills mall doing people’s makeup. I know it sounds like just makeup, but it’s more than that.
Do you have a favorite product?
When you’re into makeup like I am it’s hard to just pick one thing — none of us use one thing. And the better I get at doing makeup, the more makeup I want and use. That’s what’s been so hard about this process — coming out with such a minimal collection.
Do you always do your signature liquid cat eye?
I do not, not even at all. For a day look, I won’t do hard lines — I want it soft. The gel liner we’re coming out with is really cool because you can actually use it and do a cat eye. It’s not my typical way, but it works — you just have to use a brush to draw it on. The idea is to just try and look as pretty as I can under the circumstances [laughs].
What does your beauty routine look like?
Because of a makeup artist I recently worked with, I’ve started doing my eyebrows first. They’re my least favorite but they are one of the most important steps — and they change your whole face. Then I usually go with foundation, contour, powder, a little bit of highlighter, blush, then I go into eyes — shadow, eyeliner, mascara, and lashes. It depends where I am, though.
The ’90s are back. What are your thoughts?
I saw it brewing. My almost 16-year-old son started listening to Green Day and Blink 182, and I’m like, “What?” [laughs]. I toured with all these bands, and he has no idea. I think it’s interesting because back in the day we had TV and the library — that was it. I was looking at old movies from the 1930s, ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s. These days it’s different. Kids have direct access to the world in a way we didn’t.
What’s one of your favorite memories from the ’90s?
Looking out the window during one of our first tours on the tour bus and seeing myself in the girls or guys that took my style. And I didn’t even realize it was my style until they mimicked it. I was like, “Oh my gosh, that’s me! You’re trying to be me!” and it was the most flattering feeling. And now to be able to see me again in some of the younger generations, even if they don't even realize it — it’s super cool.