Einat Dan spent three full weeks preparing for the Beauty Forum, a major cosmetics fair held late last week in Leipzig, Germany. For five hours, she applied makeup from head to toe, fainting twice from all the excitement and tension.
In the end, the 38-year-old Israeli model took first place at the Beauty Forum, marking her seventh first-place win at an international beauty competition. Dan claimed the prize for her work with body art. She drew a picture of Queen Elizabeth on the front of her body; on her back, Dan drew a geisha in a kimono. Usually Dan's boyfriend helps her with the body art, but this time she did it alone, since her boyfriend also participated in the competition, finishing third out of thirteen contestants from all over Europe.
When she's not winning competitions, Dan judges and confers prizes on others. She has lived in Germany for nine months now, out of six years overseas. For the last several months, Dan has lived in Dusseldorf, not far from her brother - also an Israeli artist - who has lived in Germany for 20 years and makes his living manufacturing fashionable hats.
"I still can't speak the language," Dan said in a telephone interview this week, "and it's still a bit hard for me, but apparently I won't have any choice, because the Germans aren't happy about speaking other languages."
Dan was born in Safed, grew up in Tiberias and moved to Tel Aviv after her army service. She has spent her entire life onstage, she said.
"I've danced and had many performances," she recalls. "I always put makeup on friends before their performances. When I was 10, people started to line up, waiting for me to put on their makeup."
One day, passing by a large cosmetics store in Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Center, Dan spotted body makeup in the window.
"I went inside and I knew that this is what I wanted to do with my life," she said.
At first, Dan worked as a makeup artist for television and film productions, but soon she traveled to New York and learned the tricks of the trade doing body make-up. Dan traveled next to Milan, doing makeup for models on covers of such magazines as Vogue and Maxim. Renowned companies like Valentino started hiring her to run campaigns. Soon, articles circulated, hailing the Israeli IDF veteran who was conquering the fashion world.
When it comes to her work, Dan is careful about every detail, large and small.
"This isn't like doing makeup for brides," she said. "Here, emphasis is given to very small details, to texture and shadows."
In July, Dan will present her own exhibition in Austria, at a major cosmetics competition. Her business, selling cosmetics products under her name, is based in Italy. She is also producing a line of products to be displayed at cosmetics schools in Hungary, Romania and Greece.
"I travel around the world a lot," she said.
For now, Dan has no plans to return to Israel.
"There's work in Israel, but the money comes mainly from doing makeup for brides," she said. "If you want to be more creative and take part in fashion productions, you have to travel to New York and Milan."
Dan is careful about selecting her models. Not everyone can stand for several hours while Dan applies makeup. Not everyone wants to undress in front of cameras, covered only by a layer of makeup.
"I explain to them how this works, how to behave," Dan said.
What happens after the photos are taken and the cameras are put away?
"That's what's so special about this sort of art," Dan explains. "You invest so much time, and then it all comes off later in the shower."
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