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How Lady Gaga’s ‘House of Gucci’ Makeup Artist Sarah Tanno Aged Her Across 30 Years

Working on "House of Gucci" makeup meant transforming Lady Gaga across three decades.

House of Gucci
©MGM/Courtesy Everett Collectio

Makeup artist Sarah Tanno has done almost every look imaginable on Lady Gaga, but her biggest challenge came when Gaga signed on to play Patrizia Reggiani in Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci.”

The actor told her friend and collaborator that she didn’t want to see herself on screen, she wanted to disappear into the role. Tanno created a makeup arc for the character, whose story spans three decades.

What was the starting point for transforming Lady Gaga into Patrizia Reggiani?

It was about dissecting the script in a way — not only did I read it and try to understand her as a person, I went through any kind of documentation looking at photos, videos and interviews.

But there wasn’t a lot of photo evidence of her from earlier years and before her wedding. Freddy [Frederic Aspiras, Gaga’s hairstylist] and I did so much research about her looks and who her inspirations could be. Together with Gaga, we developed what she would look like and kept in mind that her character had to span 30 years.

It was also about taking those little nuances such as brow shape and lip shape and building it into the makeup look so that it’s never distracting or overpowering.

What was the key to Patrizia’s early looks?

I wanted to strip it down. I wanted to keep her as young and as pure as possible. That meant the littlest amount of makeup, a perfect amount so it doesn’t look like she was wearing any. I would round her eyebrows because brows back then were not blocked.

What about the ideas for her wedding day?

I was inspired by Gina Lollobrigida, and both Ridley Scott and Gaga loved that reference. In the movie you see the double-winged liner, it’s subtle and a little bit messy. I used products that they would have used. Italian makeup in the ’70s was a little bit behind the U.S. They were still doing cool makeup looks from the ’60s. I did a winged liner and went straight to elongate the eye, like Sophia Loren, instead of the up-wing I’d typically do on Gaga because back then women did straight lines.

Ridley didn’t shoot the film in order, what did that mean when creating the looks and you’re doing ’70s one day, and ’80s the next and back to the ’70s?

Frederic and I spent months making our guide. It had references with shades of colors and a hairstyle for every single scene of the movie. We could pull up scene 78 and know exactly where we were in the script and what we needed. We had a whole wall — like a forensics team — of photos of her, and where she was in her life, and we would try to mimic it. When something was missing, we would fill it in with what we thought that look was. We also didn’t age her with prosthetics, I used makeup techniques.

How did you find the perfect red lip from the era?

I had to do a lot of research, but in the end, with Haus Labs [Gaga’s makeup brand where Tanno is global artistry director], I created a collection of lipsticks inspired by Italian glamour and the shades that were popular in Italy at the time. We developed a color called Stefania — named after Gaga. It’s the perfect cherry red that we tested on all skin tones. It’s perfectly bright, not too deep, not too blue. It’s just a little bit sheerer than a typical lipstick. We also created an all-over rouge that can be used on eyes, cheeks and lips because that’s the formula type that women would use back then.