How ‘Lessons in Chemistry’ Makeup Designer Miho Suzuki Transformed Star Brie Larson Into Scientist-Turned-TV Personality Elizabeth Zott

When makeup designer Miho Suzuki began working on Lessons in Chemistry, she decided the makeup needed to follow the story arc of Elizabeth Zott (Brie Larson). “In the beginning, she couldn’t afford to put herself together with lots of makeup and hair and fancy clothes, because she was so focused on her studies and experiments,” she says. “I also wanted to contrast her with the other woman around her, so I didn’t do a lot of makeup.” Instead, the focus was on featuring the “beauty of the real skin”, including Larson’s freckles which Suzuki says she actually added more on to. “It made her look very fresh and kind of innocent in a way.”

When Zott was first invited to host the TV show, a makeup designer at the TV studio would be in charge of her makeup, which gave Suzuki the idea to go big in a fun way. “When she had a little bit of money, I started doing a little foundation and a little bit on the lips, but it’s still not a lot until she was invited to host a TV show and she’s kind of forced to become someone else,” she says. “It’s one of the very quick scenes we did and she’s so uncomfortable looking. She had blue eyeshadow and these big eyelashes with pink lipstick.”

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As she quickly starts to take control of Supper at Six, Zott also simplifies her makeup into a more sophisticated look. “It was inspired by Grace Kelly in my mind,” says Suzuki. “She doesn’t wear the glasses anymore and has a more simple cut on the eye. She would wear this silky, matte foundation with more gradation with grays, and then [for the lipstick] I found this really beautiful burgundy with purple in it, but it’s not too dark. That ended up being her main color, which contrasted with her beautiful fair skin.”

An important choice for Suzuki was to make sure that Zott had a look of sophistication while still standing apart from the popular makeup trends of the time. “When you look at advertising from back then, that was how people wanted women to look,” she says. “This was another sign that Elizabeth didn’t want to be that ‘created’ person. She has to say what she wants to say, and do what she believes in and what’s right for the people around her, and I wanted to showcase that with her choice in the change of makeup.”

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