Photography by Trevor Smith

Kate Lee

Makeup Artist

| Silver Lake

To most of us, the names Phoebe Philo, Stella McCartney and Lee Alexander McQueen represent unforgettable and ingenious fashion designers, but to Kate Lee, they’re “schoolmates.” The four shared the campus of London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins the same year; Lee studied makeup, the others design (oh, we can only imagine the lunch table chatter). As it turns out, they had something more than a diploma in common— Lee was destined to be “unforgettable” too. First assisting makeup artist Val Garland, she landed backstage work for schoolmate McQueen, editorials in glossies like Dazed & Confused, and, perhaps most importantly, a gig with Kate Winslet which blossomed into a lifelong working relationship and friendship— in other words, she’s been a force to be reckoned with since graduation day. Today, her client roster is as VIP as they come: Rooney Mara, Sienna Miller, Kiera Knightley and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley to name a few, not to mention she’s been a Chanel-appointed celebrity makeup artist for over a decade. There’s a reason why Hollywood’s greatest style setters have Lee in common— she delivers high-octane glam as well as she does fresh-faced and natural. It’s a rare and invaluable talent for a makeup artist… then again, Lee always seems to take what life throws at her and make it beautiful. Here, the iconic artist sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal her little black book on LA.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: I really love Barbrix on Hyperion Avenue (MAP IT, x). They have small dishes that are great for sharing and wine for days.

COFFEE OR TEA: [Tea at] my place; I’m a British tea snob.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: I have to say Gjelina in Venice (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). It’s a crazy distance from my place, but I am consistently delighted with whatever I order there. My most recent favorite was a Morroccan-style stew with Israeli couscous.

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: Picanta de la Casa from SoHo House West Hollywood (MAP IT, x). My other fave is a great negroni. The cocktail servers at Bar Stella (MAP IT, x) dress in white marginal style coats and resemble doctors– they are all impeccable.

AFTER-WORK HAPPY HOUR: There is a great place downtown called The Varnish (MAP IT, x). It is a tiny speakeasy located at the back of a restaurant called Coles. They are careful not to let too many people in as there is only one mixologist and he is super meticulous. They make the best Old Fashioned in town.

LADIES LUNCH: Recently, myself and my ladies have been heading to Republique on La Brea (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). The staff is amazing, the food is incredible and the sommelier is very attentive.

MUSIC PICK: When I first moved to LA, I saw live music every week. Since, my “gig-going” has slowed with the onset of greater responsibility, but it’s still one of my favorite things to do and luckily LA has a never ending stream of artists passing through. I love the Greek Theatre in Griffith Park (MAP IT, x)– there is something about sitting in nature and listening to music that cannot be beat.

BEST BRUNCH: The nearest and most likely to have my trade on the weekend is Little Dom’s (MAP ITBOOK IT, x). The food is very consistent, the cocktails are great and you can sit in a great little booth or outside in the sunshine.

BEST PEOPLE WATCHING: The Beverly Hills Hotel (MAP IT, x) for a weekend lunch. Where else can you seen the Beckhams, Joan Collins and Tom Jones all in one sitting?

HEALTHY STAPLE: Erewhon (MAP IT, x) for something containing buckwheat noodles. They also have incredible juices and smoothies.

GUILTY PLEASURE: Giorgio Baldi at the beach (MAP IT, BOOK ITx). The sweetcorn agnolotti with white truffle is beyond definition. I love to go here as they always make you feel like family.

LA’S BEST KEPT SECRET: The excellent Korean spas. I find the Korean ritual of bathing so calming. It’s so beautiful to see three generations of one family all bathing together. I always go when I am homesick or in need of some nurturing.


REGULAR AT: Barbrix. It’s walking distance, I know all the staff and think nothing of walking down there and eating alone on the odd occasion that my husband is out of the country or working late.

DATE NIGHT STANDBY: Blair’s on Rowena Avenue (MAP ITBOOK IT, x). The food is delectable, the staff is great and the wine is phenomenal. The chef there is Italian and his mom’s recipe for tiramisu is the best I have ever tasted (Italy included!).

DELIVERY GO-TO: Viet Noodle in Atwater (MAP IT, x) is a weekly habit for us. Their organic chicken broth is happiness in a bowl– we crave it.

TO ESCAPE AND UNWIND: As mentioned above, the Korean spas. I like Aroma Spa (MAP IT, x).

CLOSET CHECK: I am very eclectic, but my main focus is on the Belgian designers: Dries van Noten, Margiela, Haider Ackerman. I love to shop at Mohawk General Store in my neighborhood (MAP IT, x)– their curation is exquisite and I am a frequent shopper there. For vintage and interesting one-of-a-kind pieces, I head to Scout (MAP IT, x)– my friend Joey is a master of all things vintage and has a fantastic aesthetic; I never leave empty-handed and having known me for years, he will put things aside for me.

FOR BEAUTY: Violet Grey on Melrose Place (MAP IT, x) is my heaven. Their selection of professionally curated, high-end cosmetics is just fabulous– such decadence.

MUST-HAVE BEAUTY PRODUCT: Chanel Hydra Beauty Essence Mist all day, every day.

MAKEUP LOOK OF F/W ’16: Makeup formulations are progressing so quickly; foundation is barely detectable these days so my focus is on perfect-looking skin.

BEST HOME DÉCOR: Being a makeup artist, I’m incredibly specific when it comes to color. Farrow and Ball (MAP IT, x) is where I buy all my paint– their pigments are so intense. In my neighborhood, I love Lawson-Fenning (MAP IT, x) and Amsterdam Modern (MAP IT, x) for one-of-a-kind furniture.

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: Lawson Fenning or Lost and Found on Yucca Street (MAP IT, x).

FIT PICK: I’m a little out of the loop right now, but my usual haunts are Yas (MAP IT, x) and Pilates Plus Silver Lake (MAP IT, x) as they are both walking distance from my house. I also like to walk out in the Franklin Hills with my dog, Biscuit.

ULTIMATE LA MOMENT: There have been many that are too insane to mention… perhaps dancing with Lemmy at Jumbo’s Clown Room many years ago? That’s something I’ll always remember as a true LA moment. CP

Kate’s LA

Clockwise from L to R:

Clockwise from L to R: First Row: Furniture by Amsterdam Modern; Outside Gjelina; Farrow & Ball Paint; The Beverly Hills Hotel. Second Row: Lawson-Fenning décor; Drinks from Republique; Little Dom’s; SoHo House West Hollywood.


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