Perdis. You know the name, but do you know the girl? Daughter of Greek-Australian makeup mogul Napoleon Perdis, Lianna is, in her words, “a regular teenage girl”. But the 18-year-old, who started modelling for her father’s brand aged 15, is now stepping out of his shadow. “One day I was talking to my dad about the company and I mentioned that he should create products more accessible to – or inspired by – my generation,” she recalls. Cue Total BAE, a young-at-heart cosmetics range that packs a serious punch.
Perdis is the creative director and face of the collection, which she describes as “cool, quirky, fast-paced and ever-changing – like the generation who inspired it”. The product offering is fresh and fun – think Own It! mascara in head-turning emerald; Use It! lip and cheek tint for a just-kissed glow; and Gloss It! for the highest shine pout. Emblazoned with bold iconography and smiling emojis, the packaging makes a statement in its own right. “It was inspired by millennial culture,” says Perdis. “But the product range can really be worn by anyone at any age.” As its name suggests, Total BAE was born into a digital era of hashtags and acronyms – something Perdis knows all too well. “Social media seems as normal as breathing to me,” she explains. “I think it’s a great way to to get fast information and be inspired by an endless source of images. Although it can sometimes have a detrimental impact on the way adolescent girls view themselves, as they compare themselves to the sometimes-unrealistic models of beauty and the ‘perfect’ lives that are portrayed.” Her defence against negativity? “I firmly believe in being yourself and being con dent with who you are. There’s no point comparing yourself to others, you’re one of a kind.”
It’s an ethos that extends to Perdis’ beauty routine. For the daughter of a man who built a cosmetic kingdom upon its art and theatrics, ironically, she favours things pared-back and raw. “I prefer a more natural look to an overly contoured and unrecognisable look. I think that makeup should be used as a tool for enhancing one’s natural beauty and features rather than masking them.” Although, she continues, if an extra coat of mascara or bold red lip makes you feel beautiful – primp and preen to your heart’s content. “No woman (or man!) should ever be judged for their makeup choices,” she attests.
As for life as a makeup mogul – and the inevitable comparisons drawn with the world’s leading beauty teen queen, Kylie Jenner – Perdis is soft and humble. “I had a heavy hand in all aspects of Total BAE, but ultimately it is [part of the Napoleon brand],” says Perdis. “He’s been doing this for over 25 years now, so I definitely trusted him to make the best decisions for the range; I learnt so much in the process.” She’s grateful for the “stepping stone” her dad has provided, but now it’s up to her. “I can’t neglect the fact that Napoleon opened the first door for me, [giving me] the opportunity to represent the Napoleon Perdis brand in campaigns…But the doors would have stopped opening if I couldn’t deliver. I like to think my hard work and dedication have allowed me to continue to grow in the industry, despite who my father is. I never just rely on my name, I show up and I work hard.”
Working hard, while remaining that regular teenage girl. And hopefully using beauty as a force for good, a means of finding some truth in a heavily filtered world. “Makeup is without a doubt a revealer of identity. No-one should ever feel like they have to use it to mask who they are,” says Perdis. “And regardless of how far you go, allowed me to continue to grow in the industry, despite who my father is. I never just rely on my name, I show up and I work hard.”
As an 18-year-old-girl, you’ve grown up in age where social media is the norm. What impact do you think social media is having on the way young girls view themselves and other girls?
As social media has been the norm from the beginning of my teenage social life, like a majority of other teens, it seems as normal as breathing to me. However, I definitely feel it can have both a great positive and negative impact on young girls. I think it is a great way to get fast information and be inspired by an endless source of images. Although it can sometimes have a detrimental impact on the way adolescent girls view themselves, as they compare themselves to these sometimes unrealistic models of beauty and the ‘perfect’ lives that are portrayed. Although this pressure has existed in the media before (for example in magazines), social media has certainly amplified it because it’s so much more accessible. I firmly believe though in being yourself and being confident with who you are. There is no point in comparing yourself to others, you are one of a kind.
And what’s your take on the way social media is influencing and shaping beauty as a whole? Is it detrimental at all?
Social media definitely has its perks. In the beauty industry it is such an effective creative outlet, allowing for interactive and engaging content, and is very easily accessible to many ages and demographics. However, the beauty ideals presented on these platforms have created a new area of makeup. I think that as creative and interesting the new ‘Instagram makeovers’ may be…they can give off unrealistic expectations of reality, sometimes promoting the idea that what you are born with is not enough… which I am really against. Let’s not also forget that because you’ve got the makeup for own face down pat it doesn’t make you a makeup artist or beauty expert.
How do you personally use cosmetics to articulate yourself? Are there different representations you like to show, using different styles of make up?
Ironically, as the daughter of a man that has created a whole brand and persona around the art, products and use of makeup, I prefer a more natural look to an overly contoured and unrecognisable look. I think that makeup should be used as a tool for enhancing one’s natural beauty and features rather than masking them. That is not to say that I don’t love pumping up my makeup look for a night out every now and then!
Your father has been such a trailblazer in the Australian beauty industry, and has a huge personality equal to his success. Have you ever found it difficult growing up in his shadow, so to speak, and what have you done to forge your own path and be your own person and brand?
Napoleon is my father, and I will always look up to him for all of the success in his life and the boundaries that he has pushed. At the end of the day I will always be his daughter and live in that biological shadow. As for my own career, I can’t neglect the fact that Napoleon helped open the first door for me having the opportunity to represent the Napoleon Perdis brand in campaigns from the age of 15. That was an amazing stepping stone into the modelling world for me. The doors would have stopped opening if I couldn’t deliver. I like to think my hard work and dedication has allowed me to continue to grow in the industry, despite who my father is. I’ve put a lot of hard work and hours into countless magazine covers, photoshoots and campaigns, to deliver my very best work. I never just rely on my name, I show up and work hard.
Who is Lianna outside of the Perdis name?
Outside of the Perdis name, Lianna is a regular teenage girl. I go to high school everyday, I love hanging out with my friends, I have crushes on boys and sometimes do things that I regret. This is all part of growing up and I’m really happy that my tightknit family supports me and loves me through it all. I honestly feel blessed.
Your family seem extremely close, and your Greek ethnicity is often cited in any Perdis narrative (particularly after you relocated to Athens), what role do you believe your culture has played in your success and strong family values, and how?
Relocating countries several times while growing up made me realise that at the end of the day no matter how many friends or other people you have in your life, family is blood and nothing will ever change the bond you have with them. Perhaps because I am Greek-Australian, the family orientated Greek culture has rubbed off on me. I depend a lot on my family and am very lucky to have such a strong, close bond with my sisters and my parents.
What do you stand for?
I stand for girls being confident, unique, unapologetic, non-conforming, and individual.
Role of cosmetics
Oftentimes, you hear negative attitudes towards make up and cosmetics used as a cover up – to hide one’s real persona. Recently, there’s been a more liberal attitude that make up is in fact used to accentuate and express one’s individuality, to show an authentic identity. Do you believe makeup is a mask or a revealer of identity?
Makeup is without a doubt a revealer of identity. No-one should ever feel like they have to use makeup to mask who they are. I believe people’s differences are what make them beautiful and I love the idea of people using makeup to bring out who they feel they are on the inside. Although regardless of how far you go with makeup you should still remain recognisable and stay true and authentic to yourself.
How do you think the role of cosmetics will continue to evolve in this respect?
Cosmetics has, for hundreds of years, been a way for women and men to create a story with their face. Like my dad always says, makeup is art and I think people will continue to use it as a powerful tool to express who they are and create something beautiful. Again though, I believe it shouldn’t push to the ridiculous.
There is such a strong dialogue at the moment about women and feminism, what role do you believe makeup has played / plays in the empowerment of women?
I strongly believe that women shouldn’t feel that they need to wear makeup to be accepted, because everyone is beautiful the way they are. Having said that, if someone wants to wear that extra coat of mascara or that bold red lip to feel beautiful and be who they are, then I believe they should feel empowered to do so. No woman (or man!) should ever be judged on their makeup choices.
Your father, Napoleon Perdis, has grown a cosmetics empire from a small shop in Paddington – how have you learnt female values from a strong male lead? And what are the most important things he has taught you – both professionally and personally?
My Dad is so passionate about making women look and feel beautiful. He lives with 5 women in the house and his perspective on females, from a male point of view, can be so refreshing. He named all the lipsticks in his DèVine Goddess Lipstick collection after goddesses from Greek mythology… and he refers to his customers as his empresses, so I’ve grown up around stories of strong, inspiring women thanks to him. Professionally, he has always encouraged me work hard and strive towards my goals. He’s taught me that failing is ok as long as you’ve tried your hardest and are passionate about what you do. Personally, he taught me to try my best in everything I do, and not to be too hard on myself. He always tells me to believe in myself and my destiny.
How did Total Bae come about? And why?
One day I was talking with my dad about the company and mentioned that he should create products more accessible to, or inspired by my generation… so we worked together to create the Total Bae range. While the packaging is inspired by millennial culture, it can really be worn by anyone at any age– it’s so cute.
What is your role in the creation process?
I brainstormed ideas for the products and then worked heavily with the product development team to bring that vision to life. I consulted on the creative for packaging and faced the campaigns for the range. I had a very heavy hand in all aspects of the Total Bae range, but ultimately it is a collection within Napoleon Perdis, so of course Napoleon had the final say on it all. He’s been doing this for over 25 years now, so I definitely trusted him to make the best decisions for the range and I learnt so much from him in the process.
The name Total Bae was obviously born in a digital era of abbreviations, slang and colloquialisms, how will you continue to be relevant in years to come given how quickly digital tribes and interest change?
We are always creating new products and expanding the range. It’s all about being in the moment and staying ahead of the curve. Total Bae’s original signature emoji covered packaging has already evolved with different iconography and will no doubt continue to change over time, as will our artist-inspired components. Like the generation that inspired it, Total Bae is cool, quirky, fresh, fast-passed and ever-changing.
PHOTOGRAPHY: DAVID MANDELBERG
STYLING: AILEEN MARR
WORDS: CHRISANTHI KALIVIOTIS
HAIR: PETER BECKETT
MAKEUP DIRECTOR: NAPOLEON PERDIS
MAKEUP ARTIST: KATE SQUIRES