When it came to makeup artistry in Hollywood, Kevyn Aucoin was the industry standard for nearly two decades. His work appeared on more than 50 Vogue magazine covers and set trends the world over.
A Louisiana-born makeup guru, Aucoin fled Lafayette in the ’80s when he was barely 20 years old and landed in New York City. There, he quickly established himself on the scene, working with pop celebrities such as Cher, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and Sharon Stone. His work appeared in fashion shows, music videos and major magazines.
Aucoin was a star, but his life was cut short. In 2001, he was diagnosed with a rare pituitary tumor. Less than a year later, he died of kidney and liver failure.
New York filmmaker and makeup artist Tiffany Bartok knew Aucoin’s story well, but when she started looking for a subject for her next feature, she realized his name and work needed to be kept in the public eye.
“Kevyn’s name came up as an idea, and our assistant, who is much younger than us, didn’t know who Kevyn was,” Bartok says. “That was eye-opening to me as I grew up with him being a household name. We pulled his books out right away, and her mind was blown by his talent.
“We decided that the younger generation needed to be made aware of the origin of so much that they know now about beauty.”
The seeds of Bartok’s next documentary feature, “Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story,” were planted. After going through hours of archival footage and interviews, the documentary was complete. The work was daunting, but an absolute necessity for the filmmaker.
“The editing process was horrendous,” Bartok says. “To assemble that enormous amount of footage was a job not to be taken lightly. In all the interviews, no one was uninteresting in any way. They were all incredibly insightful. To cut anything was heartbreaking.”
Bartok says she is still on the edge of her seat as the film has screened at festivals in Cleveland, Toronto and Scotland. Earlier this year, “Larger Than Life” picked up the Best Louisiana Documentary Feature at the Louisiana International Film Festival in Baton Rouge.
This week, Lafayette will finally get a chance to see this latest document of its hometown legend. Cane Fire Film Series will screen “Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story” on Thursday, June 28, at Acadiana Center for the Arts.
Cane Fire manager/founder Michael Scott Myers says tickets are going fast, but that’s not just because a lot of locals knew Aucoin.
“To me, it’s fascinating that a guy like Kevyn can leave Lafayette and become the top of his craft in a short period of time,” Myers says. “Aucoin is still considered the best of all time, the greatest there ever was, the king of makeup. He was the No. 1 guy for almost a decade.”
Bartok, an unabashed fan who once snuck onto the set of a “Sex and the City” episode to meet Aucoin, echoes those sentiments.
“Kevyn Aucoin means maverick, advocate, artist and rebel,” she says. “His name is synonymous with love. He left love in every person he touched, and I hope that people continue to see and feel that, and that they continue to see how hard he worked to promote inclusion, equality and diversity in everything he did. He was one in a million.”
Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story screens at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 28, at Acadiana Center for the Arts, 101 W. Vermilion St. Tickets available via www.acadianacenterforthearts.org