The House of Glamma & the Art of the Human Canvas

July 13th, 2008

One of the wonders of the human canvas lies in its ability to be customized to reflect an individual’s personality and character. The sensual nature of Cleopatra is expressed through eyes lined in dark kohl. The exotic brand known as Cher came to fame in glittering, belly-baring gowns. Farrah Fawcett capitalized on her girl next door looks with a bouncy haircut that was copied throughout the world.

In a land dominated by suits and jeans, Project Runway, a design show, became a breakaway hit. Magazines and television shows featuring before-and-after stories, where average looking ducklings become beautiful swans, are among the most popular. The aesthetics of fashion and makeup appeal, it seems, not only to our visual senses, but to our spirits of individuality. For some, leaving the canvas naked of anything except nature is the height of beauty. For others, the art of self-expression is enhanced through fashion, high style, and makeup.

The wizards working behind the scenes of fashion are known as stylists, but that sparse word doesn’t begin to cover their artistic bents or talents. They are Creators, who use both intuition and technical skill to highlight, shadow, downplay, or animate the art of human features.

Toronto recently rocked with the news that two of its favorite wizards, Jake Surrette and partner “Glamma”, were breaking out as independents with their new style enterprise, The House of Glamma. With three decades of vast experience between them, including stints at New York Fashion Week, Dior, Chanel, and Maybelline, and clients including Catherine Zeta Jones, Sarah McLachlan, and Hillary Duff, these two men – partners in life as well as business – are prepared to start a fashion fire. The House of Glamma has an all-encompassing approach to style which includes not only fashion, hair, and makeup, but custom body art as well.

Recently, the two men were in L.A., working their magic for the band Stars Down. I spoke to them as they were taking a break, in typical Jake and Glamma style, by getting the full mani-pedi treatment in a salon.

JD: Models come to you naked-faced and from what I can see, many of them are actually plain looking. What is it that creates photogenic beauty?

JAKE: Model or not, priming the canvas, the skin, is the answer to everything! If your canvas isn’t primed right, then the makeup doesn’t look good.

JD: What creates that elusive thing known as attractiveness? Is it symmetry, bone structure, eyes?

JAKE: All of the above, different for the individual. We believe in the eye of beholder. A freaky looking model can be beautiful, just not in the next door sort of way. And the eyes, of course, they are always the thing. The windows to the soul.

JD: If you could pick an ideal client, who would they be?

JAKE: Someone who is so into art, and appreciates our art as a collaboration.

JD: Have you ever had a nightmare client?

JAKE: Absolutely! There are people who are very stuck in their ways, and the nightmare is when they come in for change and don’t really want change at all. Old or young, they have dug in their heels, and nothing will get them unstuck!

JD: Have you ever had to just say no?

JAKE: We both have, yes. It’s hard, but one of the most important parts of collaborating is building mutual trust and setting boundaries. We can only get there by being honest, so if something doesn’t work, we’re going to be honest about that, and hope that it helps build the trust.

JD: The House of Glamma is also offering tattoo design. Do you have a specialty? Any tattoo philosophies to share?

GLAMMA: Original designs, our own and our client’s, will be the focus — very diverse — along with tribal and Asian art. I think tattoos should be personal, and represent something important, or a milestone, in a person’s life.

JD: Let’s play favorite products. From hair to eyeshadow, what products are you presently loving?

JAKE: For hair, definitely Redken Glass #01. Total shine.

GLAMMA: For foundation, we both like Maybelline’s mineral powder, and Makeup Forever. For lipstick, Moisture Riche or Laura Mercier. Glosses?

JAKE: Oh, Estee Lauder Steel, or Tarte. We also like the Tarte cheek stain and bronzers. And for eye shadows, Makeup Forever.

JD: What are some of the biggest fashion faux paus?

JAKE: Winged eyes that are drooping. Shimmer on an eyelid that is creasing. Frosted brows! Or over-tweezed brows. Wearing jeans that come up to the bellybutton – “Mom” jeans. People believing that they are a “season” – the biggest sham of the 80’s!

JD: What’s the best thing about working with your life partner?

GLAMMA: The best thing is we really get each other. We get each other in a way where we can sense desperation from across the room. Like during a show, when one of us has four minutes to makeup a model, and we’re not getting the look we want, the other one will jump in to the rescue. We don’t even need to talk about it, it’s just this connection between us.

JD: How do you strike a balance between your professional and personal lives?

GLAMMA: We have separate time. I like to read literature. And we make sure we have our time alone together. Work is work, like a mode, and we have places in the home where no discussion of work is allowed, like the bedroom. If you want a good relationship then you work on it. Communication is huge. We laugh at silly things and stupid things. There’s a lot of yin and yang.

JD: What do you think the future holds for you two and The House of Glamma?

GLAMMA: I’m not sure, but we’re loving the direction it’s headed in, and we’re willing to go wherever the stars take us. Life is an adventure!

35 Responses to “The House of Glamma & the Art of the Human Canvas”

  • I love these guys! This was so much fun to read!!! Thank you Jane for doing this interview! I love it!!!!

  • Great piece Jane! I love the boys - no secret there, however - your opening paragraphs are truly art! Since this piece is focusing on the blending of arts - I will say: I love the art of words you got going on.

    As for my loves, Jake & Glamma - you make me proud!

    Love and respect to all three of you artists!

    Pammers :)

  • It is a joy to have two outstanding role models to look up too in the matters of art and living.

  • Another wonderful essay. People often mistake makeup or body art for superficiality; the body can be another canvas, not to “fake” who we are, but to express parts of our ever-changing selves. Being art is fun and freeing, and people like Jake and Glamma help us find different aspects of our selves, if we let them. These guys so ‘get’ I AM ART. Now, they should GET to California, like you, Jane!

  • My worlds just collided!
    Jake, Glamma and Jane all in one place! Am I awake? Best blog post ever.

  • I’m one of those Project Runway fans! I also like Vogue and other fashions mags. I wear mostly jeans or plain slacks, and wouldn’t be caught dead in a lot of what I see, but I enjoy seeing people who “wear it well.”

    My son’s get a kick out of my love for Madonna, because you know Moms aren’t supposed to like sexy, but one of the things I like about her so much is that she is constantly changing, and all of it looks so good!

    I don’t know these young men, but I look forward to seeing what they do!

  • I’m one of those who thinks naked is totally beautiful, and I don’t wear makeup except for special occasions but I do love those makeover shows. And Project Runway too. I like to see how creative people can be with themselves, and I think it’s fascinating how makeup and clothes can transform people. I really like when those women who’ve spent lifetimes raising kids and serving their families get the kind of makeovers that leave them feeling rejuvenated. I didn’t like The Swan, though, because it was all about plastic surgery as a solution to feeling better.

    I wish your friends at Glamma good fortune. Maybe we’ll see them on TV soon!

  • wait. were you in LA?? or was this a phone interview?

  • Love how they recommend make-up brands I can actually afford!
    I am a huge believer in make-up over plastic surgery! I wish more women would go to the the make-up counter at Macy’s instead of “Dr. 90201.” They would save so much money by simply buying a different shade of lipstick and eyeshadow to look younger!

  • In this day and age when the most sophisticated teeny-bopper is familiar with what Paris Hilton or Britney is wearing, it gave me a warm, melting feeling as you began your beguine lead in about Cleopatra, Cher and Farah.

    When I had heard there was an article about Jake and Glamma I thought, well, what will be said, thinking I have heard it all on both continents for the past 50 years and never use one brand of anything, so, when I read your piece I thought, ‘this gal has it on and really has connected.’”

    Your words convinced me I better watch what this duo is up to as they are unique, daring, cutting edge and have a double whammie about them I admire. I am so tired of buying pencils from MAC, a lip liner from Este or a blush from Guerlain, I’m going to listen to these beautiful, savvy strut boys who are apart of NOW. Thanks to you I am going to keep my “canvas” ready to rock.

    Grange “Lady Haig” Rutan

  • I’ve never seen Project Runway (yes, I’m the Grrrl without TV) but I have read about Jake and Glamma elsewhere.

    I enjoy makeup. The great irony of my life is that when I was in my 20s, I put experimental looks together in 10-15 minutes and now in my 40s I spend twice as long trying to look “natural.” Looking natural is the hardest look of all in your late 40s. I’ve gotten good at blending, blending, blending!

    When I was in college, I was the unofficial makeup artist on my dorm floor and would help my girlfriends do their faces before big events. I had a job selling makeup for a while and there’s a secret part of me that always wanted to be a makeup artist. But hey, I wear clothes from Eddie Bauer and Birkenstocks and cowboy boots–my sense of style isn’t what you’d call “glamorous!”

  • V, there’s nothing wrong with being an Eddie Bauer (bootcut) jeans girl, or wearing a pair of (size 8.5) Frye boots. :-) Birkenstocks though? They’ve got to go! LOL.

  • V, I agree with Jane. Toss the Birkenstocks or we’re planning an intervention. Wait, is that a trick to get me and Jane to come over? ;)
    I shop at Eddie Bauer, too, but I make sure my jeans don’t come up to my belly button because Jake and Glamma know where I live and they have cameras.

  • I guess I will have to throw my crocs out the window but it is a relief to know I don’t have to worry about being a “season”. I never could figure which I was. I finally settled on “off season”.

  • V -
    I’m with Linda and Jane on this one.
    Absolutely NOT on the Birkenstocks. Unless you’re Peppermint Patty and someone drew you that way . . . .

  • “Unless you’re Peppermint Patty….”

    Okay, that totally cracked me up. :-)

    And Ann, don’t toss the crocs! Save them for muddy walks and gardening!

  • Y’all arent’ going to believe me if I tell you my Birkis are cute, are you? I bought them in Germany when I lived in Europe and they’re a mod floral in shades of fuschia, light green, yellow, blue. Not the Arizona two strap style, the slightly more streamlined Florida, which is the three skinny strap style. When I don’t wear my electric floral Birkis, I have ones with straps that look like they were sponge painted in shades of brown, black, and russet. Very tasteful. Really. ; )

    I once wrote a blog post called The Ugly Shoe Hall of Shame. Nearly all my shoes are ugly, ‘cept my boots, which are SEXY.

    V, I’m afraid we’re going to need photographic evidence of cute Birkenstocks. ;-) You get a total pass on the boots, though, because what is not SEXY about boots? - Jane

  • whys everyone hatin’ on the birks?

  • Hmmmmm…..just can’t figure it out, Kris. ;-)

  • Wow, wonder where he got those cute socks! I bet he didn’t vote for Dubya. ; )

  • Here is V’s photgraphic evidence. I do believe we need a vote to make this democratic. Bloggers? Your opinions, please.

  • Wow, I like these. I bet this woman is confident and sexy and wore these as she tromped across Western Europe discussing politics and sex with hip intellectuals and artists. A woman who wears shoes like these is comfortable in her own skin and has a sense of humor. She also shops in Germany….

  • P.S. I bet her makeup is very natural looking too.

  • NO. NO. YES.
    But, I can see how shoes 1 &2 would be comfy to wear while walking around a country where you don’t live and you hope you won’t see anyone you know.

  • You’ve all made me laugh this evening! I used to wear Birks all year long! My last gf made me get rid of them. I never thought of them as sexy, but they sure were comfortable! And ya, I had the kind in the photo, but to my credit I didn’t wear socks. :-)

    Mmmm….seems like V-Grrrl and V-Person may be one in the same. In fairness, Jane, you didn’t say she couldn’t vote for herself!

    I think my fashion taste might disqualify my vote, but I’m going to say yes to #1 and no to #2 and #3. It’s still all about the comfort for me!

  • no. no. and maybe. depends on the heel (of the boot).
    i’m sorry. i had to jump in being as this post was originally about me and Glamma! heheh.
    under no circumstance are birks appropriate. [unless they are worn by Matthew McConaughey naked. Just after he's surfed. Or mountain climbed. And is bringing home some bacon.]
    okay. no birks in public.
    I agree that crocs are okay for water and gardening. I’ve yet to succumb to them. I opt for the original, 2.99 Target flip flop for such occasions.

  • Target flip flops! I’m appalled! Shocked and dismayed! Teva, Columbia, Nike–but not Target. Unless they’re on Bruce Springsteen after he pulls off his boots at the end of the day and pads to the hot tub.

    Crocs–only on Bozo the Clown–lord rest his sad lil soul.

  • I’m not going to attack the shoe question, but I do want to say that looking natural IS a hard thing to achieve. As women mature they think that heavy is better. I have seen foundation you could use a trowel on to remove. My words of advice: Think about a tinted moisturizer. Match your skin along the jawline. If it blends it is perfect. Focus on your T-zone to even out the complexion, and add a hint of concealer where needed. Finish it off by “popping the life back in” with a gel bronzer, and the skin is back to glowing. Don’t EVER warm your complexion up with a tint or foundation that is 2 times darker than you are. Nothing like a walking mask to scare people away.
    And Yes, I usually apply this while wearing flip flops.

  • Target flip-flops are perfect for ruining! Walgreen’s has even cheaper shoes for when you know you’re going to destroy them.

    I love my Adidas water sandals, but I wouldn’t wear them in the mud. Not at $30 a pair! Yes, I am that cheap!

    Jake, I agree with you about Matthew. My husband doesn’t get it, but I made him my one allowed affair. ROFL.

  • Glamma’s here!

    Can I ask another question? I have gotten a ton of freckles (age spots?) as I’ve gotten older. I’ve used powder and cream foundations, but they don’t cover unless they’re heavy, and then they look awful?

    Advice? Please?!?!?!

  • My natural makeup

    Candid photo taken by my friend Di Mackey using a long lens. (Don’t dis me on the chunky scarf, borrowed from my husband January in Antwerp—FREEZING).

  • You look gorgeous, V!

    Glamma & Jake, thank you and welcome! You are my two new favorite stylists in the world. I would totally let you give me a makeover!

  • No.
    Still No.
    Mmmm, perhaps.

    I used to work in a family planning clinic and we had a cartoon that says it all about the ugly shoes.

    A woman sitting on an exam table looks puzzled
    that the doctor hands her a pair of Birkenstocks and says -
    “We’re all out of birth control pills, but why don’t you try these.”

  • I love the new banter back and forth! Barbara - if it freckles you have, I am someone who actually thinks that freckles are gorgeous! Look at the beauties in the world that are blessed with them - Julianne Moore, Lucy Liu, Lara Flynn Boyle, Evangeline Lilly, and classic stars like Bette Davis, Greta Garbo and Kathryn Hepburn. Now if it is age spots you are worried about, foundation alone will not completely conceal. You may have to use products like Laura Mercier’s Secret Camoflage, or Dermablend (I find heavy on skin) to diminish the appearance. When you really want to banish the age/sun spots, you may want to look in to microdermabrasion or laser which can be pricey. The best advice - use a good SPF and keep your skin safe from harmful UVA rays.

  • Thank you, Glamma! I used to have cute freckles, but now they’re just heavy ones. Too much sun probably. I’ll try the Camoflage first and if it’s too light I’ll try the Dermablend.

    I’ve thought about dermabrasion and the doctor said it would do the trick, but it is pricey. Maybe I’ll talk DH into it for our anniversary!

    It was very nice of you to take the time to answer my question. Thank you!

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