Smashbox Studios Reopens Its Iconic L.A. Space

AP Images/Invision
Davis Factor

The recently renovated studio — which has welcomed the likes of Salma Hayek and President Clinton — is scheduled to open its doors again Feb. 5.

When Culver City's Smashbox photo studio closed for renovation in June 2013 — new makeup rooms and design by Gensler — it scattered photogs who relied on the space to shoot celeb ads, from Annie Leibovitz to THR lensman Ruven Afanador. Founded in 1990 by brothers Dean and Davis Factor, great-grandsons of makeup artist Max Factor, Smashbox is reopening Feb. 5 with a celebrity-laden party (THR is the media partner).

"We were there for the shift from models to celebrities on covers," recalls Davis (who sold his Smashbox Cosmetics, started in 1996, to Estee Lauder in 2010 for what's said to be a multi million dollar deal). "Publicists loved us: They didn't have to fly clients to New York anymore. We were open 24/7 and took crap from everybody!" Like the time Davis babysat Bruce Springsteen's infant: "He peed all over me," he laughs.

Photographer Matthew Rolston recalls a long day turning Salma Hayek into an Elizabethan queen: "I've shot there for 25 years; I spent 20 of them waiting for hair and makeup." A fundraiser for President Clinton in 1995 had Alec Baldwin and Barbra Streisand on hand. "Clinton just walks in and says, 'I've heard so much about this place.' "

Now Davis Factor has handed the day to day running of the studio over to a team from Industrial Color (ICB), his partners in ownership, so Factor himself can focus on expanding the cosmetics line. Says Davis: "Leonard Lauder said to me, 'You should open Smashbox all over the world.' That's what I've been thinking of doing."

This story first appeared in the Feb. 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.