Leslie Lopez | makeup artist

Leslie Lopez's client roster reads like a list of the last decade's most glamorous Oscar and Golden Globes winners. She is the makeup artist that Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway call on regularly, keeping her constantly shuttling between New York and L.A. for premieres, parties and, for the last week, the Oscars.

Lopez is scheduled to do Paltrow's makeup for the Academy Awards. Even after a 23-year career working in fashion editorial and advertising, the Oscars still bring butterflies to her stomach each year.

"Awards season is nonstop busy, but very exciting too because you feel the energy in the air," Lopez says.

To a certain extent, makeup artists fly by the seats of their pants. Sometimes Lopez will have seen a photograph of the all-important dress ahead of time, but usually she doesn't see it until she arrives at an actress' house or hotel room only a few hours before the event. There she collaborates with the fashion stylist, hairstylist and celebrity about makeup to suit the dress, taking into consideration the gown's color, cut and any embellishment.

Lopez's approach to red carpet makeup is to individualize a look for the client to amplify her natural beauty, rather than implementing a trend to make a statement. The look starts with radiant skin accented with glamorous touches such as dark, full lashes and defined cheekbones. At the 2010 Oscars, Lopez played up the blue of Parker's eyes by lining them in a dramatic black liner and coats of heavy black mascara. The eyes stood out against the actress' fair skin and pale yellow Chanel gown.

Lopez's makeup design is integral in defining the overall image of the celebrity, and it can have repercussions in the real world too since a much-photographed look can influence makeup trends.

The day of the Oscars, Lopez gets a little more dressed up than her usual workday uniform of jeans and flats. She says that the day always feels special and she can't help but get into the spirit by replacing some comfortable staples with heels and a nice top. "I like to do a little something extra, because it's a festive day and everybody's feeling it."

Didier Malige | hairstylist

Hairstylist Didier Malige has had an impressive 40-year career, regularly coiffing the hair of models and celebrities for the covers of Vogue, V, Vanity Fair and Harper's Bazaar, as well as working on advertising campaigns for Prada, Miu Miu, Armani and YSL. A lead stylist for Frederic Fekkai, based in New York, Malige made his entree into red carpet hair in quite a big way last year, creating Natalie Portman's side-swept curls for the Oscar ceremony in which she took home the lead actress statuette.

After working with the world's biggest photographers, stylists, art directors and celebrities on countless photo shoots, Malige says he still finds the red carpet "a bit nerve-wracking." "You have to imagine that there are [millions of] people watching, so it means a lot. I wouldn't say you get used to it."

He will be tending to Portman's tresses again this year and, like Lopez, has to create the look on the spot after seeing the dress the actress chooses to wear. "You have to be ready, mentally," he says. "You have to be prepared to think on your toes, and I like that, because sometimes it's not good to think about it way before. I like to be spontaneous and not overthink it."

Malige will collaborate with Portman's fashion stylist and makeup artist hours before she leaves to attend the awards show. But, as with the makeup, the final style will depend on what the actress wants. He says that last year, Portman was pregnant and did not want to look overtly sexy. Malige swept her brown hair to one side and fastened a piece of diamond jewelry where the hair was gathered, for a soft and romantic look.

"A photo shoot is one frame and you either like the hair or don't," he says. "With the red carpet, you see the whole person and not just her hair. You see who she is and the way she responds to questions. It's more about what the person is doing and how the hair contributes to the person and what she is doing."

melissa.magsaysay@latimes.com