The Countenance Divine


Lauren Oakey drags herself to a make-up course fit for a queen


I love a drag queen, me. I love the vicious jokes, even when I’m the butt of them. I love the full-on dedication to a couple of solid hours’ make-up application. I love the Shirley Bassey cast-offs and the visions in American Tan tights and dusty wigs I used to see back home in Wales – especially the ones who could fill a batwing sleeve and looked like Paul Shane in a frock. I once went alone to a double of bill of Divine’s ‘I Am Divine’ and ‘Female Trouble’ in Brighton that finished at 3am – the only person not dressed up in a cinema overflowing with feather boas and clinking wine bottles – where I ended up in the foyer, touching up the compere’s falsies and hoisting his wig back in place.


So when I got the chance to attend Illamasqua’s Drag Star Superhero course at their flagship Soho store, I was all over it. The course is run by Adam, a make-up artist for 15 years, who worked for various brands before arriving at Illamasqua, his spiritual home.


I arrived at the studio, excited at the prospect of getting fully dragged up. The course is designed to get you to apply the make-up on yourself, so me and my classmates dutifully removed our own and awaited instructions.


Lauren DragFirst up: brow-blocking. This involves wetting a small chunk of Pear’s soap, scraping some off with a palette knife and working it upwards into the eyebrows to completely flatten and set them. If you’ve ever wanted to know what you’ll look like after an autopsy, give this a go. Then it’s on to concealer, to completely erase any trace of your former brow and give you a clean space to draw your eyebrow back in. On this occasion we cut out a black paper brow and applied it with eyelash glue.


Having at this point a completely blank, browless face with two little eyes staring out of it, I was more than ready to get cracking with the eyeshadow. The trusty concealer was back, to be applied to the whole eye to get a clean base. Then white eyeshadow in Sex applied up to the brow bone, before a line was drawn in with black eyeshadow to create a socket, topped with Precision gel liner and blended upwards and outwards. Blend, blend, blend. Then blend some more. Men don’t usually have the socket line needed to create a smoky eye without looking like they’ve been punched in the face, so this is essential. Then, to elongate the eye, we used the same eyeshadow to draw along the lash line with an angled brush.


I could feel my eye getting pleasingly Divine-like and got childishly excited when Adam brought out the lashes. MASSIVE, obviously. I love a set of lashes that are so heavy they’ll give you muscles in your lids. I may have looked a bit tipsy but I prefer ‘sultry’, thanks.


Illamasqua offers other two hour courses – Pin Up Beauty, Night Time Diva and Timeless Beauty, a course for anyone who believes that life begins at 39. Despite wanting to go out on the town in my new make-up to strut, dance and generally work it ’til 3am, I reluctantly cleansed, applied something a little more daytime from the products in store (the staff are amazing at letting you play with the products – my favourite thing) and left, clocking the disappointed reaction from the guys in the hair salon opposite, who apparently wait to see the amazing creations walk out the door. Next time, chaps.


Drag Star Superhero Course, £50 at Illamasqua School of Make-Up Art, 20 Beak Street London, W1F 9RE. Book at


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