The first time I ever met Claudio Riaz, it was at our Madison Avenue store about three or four years ago. I was with the other assistant buyer for color cosmetics at the time, and Claudio just happened to be there at his counter. He knew the other buyer, and we were sitting at the counter talking when I mentioned that I was planning on going out later that night. He offered to give my makeup a touch-up, so of course I said yes. It was so easy—he did it in about 4 minutes. It was just a little bit of a touch-up, not anything major, but he instantly made me look glowy, radiant, and natural.
That initial encounter was a brief one, but it showed me two things that I’ve come to learn more and more over the years since: the kindness, warmth, and generosity of Claudio Riaz himself, and the amazing quality and versatility of the products he makes.
Before the launch of his makeup brushes in 2007 and the addition of cosmetics to the line in 2012, Claudio Riaz served as the lead makeup artist at some of the more elite beauty brands in the world. Before that, though, he had already been with Barneys. Claudio was actually a counter manager at our flagship store in Chicago many, many years ago, which means that he’s very familiar with our customers and with what our customers need. When he did my makeup at that first meeting, it was very clear that he knows what he’s doing so well that he can look at you for one minute and know exactly what color palette to use, what color eye shadow to use. I just told him that I like to keep my makeup very natural—not too much eye or too bright of colors. He instantly knew exactly what I wanted and I was really happy with it. He’s really good at making you feel comfortable and look natural.
That’s one of my favorite things about his products—it’s all very natural looking. You don’t look like it’s caked on or like you’re wearing five layers of makeup. It’s all meant just to highlight your own features. Nothing gets this across more than the combination of his Instant Face palettes with his Instant Face Brush, both of which he used that first day and I’ve used every day since. The palettes have different shades of powder in them, and the square brush is shaped to pick up all the colors together. You take the brush and swipe it over the whole palette, than then you’re supposed to draw the number 3 on your face, hitting the temples, cheekbones, and jawline. It gives you an instant glow.CLAUDIO RIAZ Instant Foundation / CLAUDIO RIAZ Foundation Brush / CLAUDIO RIAZ Instant Face / CLAUDIO RIAZ Instant Face Brush
When you first see the Instant Face palette, you may not know what to think of it. I remember thinking, that first time, that I didn’t know what it was going to look like when it was actually on my skin. I was a little scared! But when you take all of the colors and apply them together, it’s the perfect mix and perfect color. You wouldn’t use each color individually—it’s about the way they come together. But it all makes sense when it goes on your face so easily and somehow looks perfect without looking like you’re wearing too much makeup. It highlights your natural features and the tone of your skin to look flawless on anyone.
All his products—and with his brushes in particular—are made to make application super easy. You don’t need to be a makeup artist or know any tricks. Claudio has thought about the person who’ll actually be doing this at home and he has a great understanding of the fact that not everyone is a professional makeup artist. He thinks of the client and each brush is designed to make each step as easy as possible.
He has one brush—the Instant Smoke Brush—whose shape means that you just dip it in the color and place it on your eye and it takes all the guess work out of a perfect smoky eye. I’ve never seen a brush like that before—the shape is actually curved, so that it fits perfectly on your eye. You don’t need to do a bunch of strokes. You just place the brush against your eyelid and smudge it back and forth. You don’t even have to lift the brush once, and it makes the perfect, perfect smoky eye. It’s one of my favorite things to use because it just makes it so easy.
All of his brushes are like that. Whether it’s the brush that does a smoky eye, the eye liner brush, the eyebrow brush—they’re each very specific in their task. Even for something that can be as intimidating as a liquid eye liner, the liquid liner brush is angled to make it so much easier to draw on a seamless swoop without having to contort your wrist. Together, they actually make doing your makeup faster and easier, since each brush makes one step of your process a snap. There is the collection set that has all of them—the crease brush, the foundation brush, all the eye shadow brushes. For someone who’s a makeup artist or really obsessed with makeup, this is the perfect kit because it gives them the flexibility to play.
Across the board, Claudio has taken his expertise as a makeup artist and made it foolproof. For anyone who’s not a makeup artist or an expert, they can get the same results because the brushes and the products do the work for you.
As the brand has grown, so has Claudio Riaz’s relationship with Barneys. Today, he often travels to Barneys stores around the country doing personal appearances and meeting with clients. He knows the product so well, and you’re never going to find someone who’s so adept and articulate with makeup. Being a makeup artist himself, he knows what works and he knows how to bring that to his products and to his clients. He’s so skilled at explaining each product and brush and why he created each, all in a very charismatic way. He’s very comfortable with Barneys and very much part of the Barneys family.