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Fixations

Vanity Fair

Putting In An Appearance At The Cosmetics Counter

July 22, 2001|LESLEE KOMAIKO

Ruth Fung has always been into makeup. Her first job, a part-time gig in high school, was at a cosmetics boutique in her native Chicago. Fifteen years later, Fung is the counter manager at Francois Nars at Barneys New York in Beverly Hills. We spent a few hours with the seasoned beauty pro.

*

1 p.m. "Do you want an instant tan?" Ruth asks an English girl. Ruth rubs Body Glow onto her arm, offering, "It doesn't look crazy orange."

1:08 As Ruth begins a courtesy make-over, the girl says, "I'm having my eyebrows plucked by a very big eyebrow plucker today."

1:20 The English girl exclaims [of a customer], "Oh, there's that guy. He's wearing a fur coat!" Ruth says, "His name is Hector. He's a musician." Unimpressed, the girl says, "He needs to go home and take a nap!"

1:22 Ruth finishes one eye. The girl assesses Ruth's work in the mirror. "Wow," she says, "if I died and went to heaven, it would be like this!"

1:34 The girl takes two products. Total, $61.70. "Lis," she says, flashing a gold Amex card at her friend. "My dad gave it to me. What do I do?" Daddy buys.

1:40 Ruth tells a very pregnant customer about the new candles on the counter. "They have a 70-hour burn time."

2:10 "She wants an eyeliner," the mother of a teenager tells Ruth. "How about if I show you a cake liner?" Ruth asks the girl. "You can use it wet or dry."

2:14 "Do you have additives in these products?" the mother asks. "We don't use any animal products," Ruth assures her.

2:40 An employee from another counter pops by. "I just totally pulled out one of my eyelashes and it hurts," she tells Ruth.

2:55 "What is the darkest lipstick you have?" asks a middle-aged man in a tweed jacket shopping for an "older" friend who "likes black lipstick." Ruth shows him Times Square. "I would prefer it not look that frightening," he says.

3:15 As the man watches Ruth wrap a candle, he comments, "You're the best tissue placer."

3:29 "When it gets discontinued," a customer buying Sweet Dreams lip gloss tells Ruth, "I'll cry."

3:45 "Can I get Alaska foundation?" asks a high school girl in a fashionably ripped tee and lightning bolt necklace. The girl pulls out her cell phone and dials. "Ooh," she tells her girlfriend, "my [home] number is busy!"

4:43 Ruth offers to apply Dolce Vita lip color on a middle-aged blond shopping with a friend and a terrier. "No," the woman replies. "I have onion breath."

5 Ruth rings up the blond's purchases. "Give me the receipt," says the friend, "I can write it off."

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