Getting pretty with Kim Rozell
Kim Rozell politely interrupts our interview to retrieve a bag full of family photos.
“Did you like show and tell?” she asks. “I loved it. It’s my favorite thing”
She shows me an assortment of pictures. Some are of herself as a child; others are of the home her father built on Nashwood Lane when her parents first moved to our neighborhood. She lingers over photos of her mother, Margie, who worked as a model for Neiman Marcus in the 1950s. Her mom is modest and doesn’t like being discussed in interviews, but Rozell can’t help herself.
“I can’t talk about my business without talking about the people who have influenced me,” she says.
Rozell’s business is makeup — and it’s booming. Over the course of her career, the Preston Hollow resident has painted the faces some of Dallas’ most notable women — Lisa Troutt, Yvonne Crum, Libby Hunt, Tincy Miller and Sarah Fullwinder Perot, to name a few. Like her mother, Rozell dabbled in modeling. As a teenager, she was represented by Kim Dawson, and walked the runway for Sanger-Harris, a now-defunct department store that once stood in Preston Center. But you won’t see her on any billboards these days.
“I hate being photographed,” she says. “I’d rather be behind the camera. I think that’s what I like about makeup — it’s not about me.”
Throughout high school and college she worked for several cosmetic companies, promoting new products in the evenings and on weekends for brands like Yardley, Elizabeth Arden and Love. Then, someone she knew at Chanel recommended her for a position with Yves Saint Laurent. The company had just launched its makeup line in America and Rozell was chosen to be an ambassador. She learned to recreate YSL’s “Le Look,” which featured a “matte velvet” lip and “modified cat eye.” Her job was to teach the technique to makeup artists around the country. It was her first big break — and she almost passed on the opportunity.
“I didn’t want to work for a cosmetic company unless it was something really special,” she says. “And this launch was very special … it wasn’t just a makeup line. When I saw it, I was like, ‘Whoa! This is neater than I can imagine.’ I remember being in the room, looking at the line, thinking, ‘Oh my word! This is art. This is fashion.’”
Both Rozell and her clients will tell you she’s an artist above all else.
“People say she kind of paints,” says Leigh McKay Sands, who contacts Rozell anytime she has a wedding or major event to attend. “She always makes it look really natural and pretty. She can do hair too — hair and makeup — so it’s nice to kind of have that one-stop shop.”
Rozell added hairstyling to her repertoire at the urging of Michel Colombo, a French photographer with whom she toured internationally in the 1980s.
“We would go to photo shoots and specialty stores and people’s homes,” she says. “I’ve just been blessed to travel and have those experiences.”
She used to fly to Paris to buy makeup brushes she couldn’t find in the states. But the beauty market has gotten substantially better and Rozell is now able to get what she needs around town.
“People have more makeup than they know what to do with,” she says. “That’s why I like teaching.”
She gives lessons to local women’s groups and debutante circles. Rozell hopes attendees leave feeling beautiful and empowered.
“There’s always a message,” she says of her classes. “I try to be uplifting and use makeup to encourage people.”
She seems to be succeeding. Erin Sexton Webb, one of Rozell’s longtime clients, describes her as “positive,” “inspirational” and “faithful.” Webb first hired Rozell in 1995 to get her camera-ready on her wedding day. Earlier this year, she needed Rozell’s services again for a very different reason.
“She just worked with my daughter, Whitney, for her senior pictures,” Webb says. “This was so much fun because we were celebrating my 20 year [wedding] anniversary the same week she did that … It’s amazing to think that 20 years later she was the first person I thought of to call.”
Those sorts of experiences are fairly common for Rozell, but that doesn’t diminish how much she cherishes them. Second generation clients are some of her favorites.
“I think the ongoing relationship is what I really enjoy about my work,” Rozell says. “I think the makeup is just the vehicle God uses to get me with people.”