At Smashbox Studios in Culver City, A-listers, world-renowned photographers and the sight of popping flashbulbs usually mean business as usual. But on Thursday night, the studios’ regulars gathered in the space for a different purpose: to fete the reopening of the freshly renovated Culver City destination.
Photographer Davis Factor, co-founder of Smashbox Cosmetics and Smashbox Studios, was joined by makeup titans William Lauder, John Demsey and Chris Good, alongside celebrities including Matt Lanter, Zendaya Coleman and Janice Dickinson, to toast the newly unveiled photo studios’ $5 million makeover.
On hand for the celebration, which culminated with a performance by Andra Day, was Donald “Drawbertson” Robertson, renowned artist and creative director at large of Estee Lauder Companies — who applied his talent for playful, snapshot-worthy illustrations to oversize canvasses that doubled as a backdrop for the evening’s photo portrait studio.
“The art that’s up tonight is sort of large-scale versions of what I’m doing small for Sephora and Smashbox,” said Robertson, who teamed up with Smashbox Cosmetics to launch limited-edition makeup wrapped in his signature packaging. “In the world of collaboration, you have to find the best partners and the partners that are going to take the biggest chances and risk,” he said in praise of Smashbox, which also partnered with the artist on a lips-covered Cadillac for Art Basel that was spotted flanking the entrance.
Robertson wasn’t the only one singing Smashbox’s praises throughout the night. “This is really the rebirth of how the cosmetic business started,” said Dempsey, group president of The Estee Lauder Companies, which acquired Smashbox Cosmetics in 2010. “What Davis Factor started 20 years ago is coming forward today in a fresh, modern way,” he added, citing Vanity Fair cover photo shoots with Annie Leibovitz among his own fondest memories at the studios.
In between light bites and signature cocktails with punchy names like “The Boxcar” and “Smash It,” guests popped in and out of the studio’s new state-of-the-art makeup rooms for touch-ups and to admire the space.
“Everything is state-of-the art and up to date,” marveled artist Kirin Bhatty, who got her start at Smashbox six years ago, and now counts the likes of Jenny Slate and Kiernan Shipka among her clients. “I know I should be out there enjoying the party, but I can’t pull myself away from these rooms.”
2:25 p.m. Friday, Feb. 6: An earlier version of this story mistakenly listed Donald Robertson’s title as the head creative development at Bobbi Brown. The article has been updated to reflect the correction.