The audience at Coachella this past April had the best night of their lives. They were blessed with a surprise performance from the OG queens: 2NE1! Reunited for the first time since the 2015 MAMAs, the K-Pop icons put on a fierce performance of their 2011 mega-hit, “I Am The Best,” live on the main stage.
Los Angeles-based makeup artist Sang Jeon is the mastermind behind the iconic looks for members CL and Minzy. In an interview with Koreaboo, the celeb MUA shared behind-the-scenes stories from the unforgettable reunion in Indio, California!
Do 2NE1 members have specific styles they like/advocate for?
Specific to the Coachella performance, Sang recalled CL “taking the reign on the creative and artistic direction of the looks.” Throwing it back to the girl group’s “I Am The Best” era, “but with a 2022 edge,” Sang helped the members “showcase their unique styles and individual colors while still being cohesive as a unit.”
When it came to this specific performance, CL really took the reigns on the creative and artistic direction of the looks. Obviously giving a shoutout back to their original looks in the video for “I Am the Best” but with a 2022 edge. CL is very specific on the look she goes for, and the other girls obviously have their own sense of style that they bring. So I think it was important for CL and the girls themselves to showcase their unique style and individual color while still being cohesive as a unit.
The overall direction was directed by CL. And during the rehearsals, we had meetings and tried other looks and created the last final look.
For Minzy, we actually did a soft smokey makeup look for the first rehearsal. And after the rehearsal we realized we could [go off even more], so we ended up doing a graphic liner look with glitter at her eye corner. And Minzy had the only outfit that showed her skin (shoulder and arm) so I made sure to give her the glow job. For CL, when I saw the outfit and the stage vibes, I was thinking of doing 70s punk makeup vibes. We did have some test moments before the real Coachella, and since her outfit and her wet hair were already kind of loud, we went for [a lighter] 70s punk vibes for her makeup and I loved it.
— Sang Jeon
What are 2NE1 members’ personalities like?
While Sang had previous opportunities to work with CL, it was his “first time working with the other girls.” Throughout preparing them for the stage, 2NE1 “noonas” have been “literally so sweet,” according to the MUA.
SO SWEET! They are literally so sweet. I loved working with them and getting to know the other members a little bit more as it was my first time working with the other girls. It was like catching up with my noonas!
I thought it was so cute that Dara gave me instant cup noodles and told me that we all did a good job after all the performances haha. She is so cute!
— Sang Jeon
What are some of the key differences in makeup for K-Pop vs. non K-Pop clients?
Throughout the years, Sang’s clientele has grown to include celebrities, models, influencers, musicians, and CEOs from around the world—including but not limited to Donnie Yen, Clara Lee, Jessi, and Netflix‘s Bling Empire cast Cherie. And, according to the MUA, the “gap” between K-Pop/Korean and “Western” aesthetics is now closing.
These days, there are so many Korean artists that try so many diverse looks so I actually can’t feel the difference. It’s exciting that I get to play with Korean and Western aesthetics, and exploring different looks with clients from Korea for more Western looks and with Western clients with more Korean aesthetics.
— Sang Jeon
What is the most memorable look you’ve achieved so far? Why?
Yet, the 2022 Coachella looks for 2NE1 remains the most memorable look Sang has achieved so far.
I will never forget this historic moment. Being a part of this historical moment for CL, Dara, Minzy and Bom coming back together… And also really representing Korea and for Asians at Coachella will be something I will never forget and always be grateful for this opportunity.
— Sang Jeon
Making the move from Korea to Los Angles, what kind of struggles have you faced? Any words of advice to offer for the aspiring MUAs looking to work in K-Pop?
Post his graduation from beauty school in South Korea, Sang started working as a makeup artist at Total Beauty Salon where he was scouted and featured in ELLE Korea, which became a launchpad for him as an MUA. After gaining three years of experience there, Sang decided to take his skills to the next level by working for himself as a freelance makeup artist and eventually made the move to Los Angeles. “Making the move was definitely scary,” Sang recalled. Now, he boasts a successful career—which, Sang advised, can only come from “[hustling] as much as [one] can.”
Making the move was definitely scary, not really knowing too many people in the beauty industry…But luckily I was able to make connections right away, and thankful to be able to work with great names in Korea which helped me in my career here in LA.
My words of advice to MUAs looking to break into working with any K-Pop artists in the in beauty industry is to make connections, display your work as much as possible to get your image and aesthetic out there, and hustle as much as you can! There are different rules in working in K-Pop vs. working in the Western beauty industry, but learn to adapt and be flexible to make yourself available and show your skills!
— Sang Jeon
Read more about 2NE1’s reunion at the 2022 Coachella here.