Isolde Brielmaier Has Mastered The Art World—And Her Beauty Routine

This art world player’s beauty routine is just as refined as her eye. Check out the career and beauty products that keep Westfield World Trade Center’s Director of Arts and Culture shining!

Contributor: Marjon Carlos

Photographer: Quil Lemons

When it comes to balancing a full life—career, marriage, motherhood, an in-demand social calendar—most modern women have to get a little creative. Luckily Isolde Breilmaier, the curator, professor, and Executive Director of Arts and Culture at Westfield World Trade Center, has a knack for innovation. Just look to the walls of New York’s Oculus—one of the world’s most expansive and luxurious transportation hubs—for proof. Installed with the work of emerging and established artists, the former SCAD Museum of Art curator has in just a short amount of time turned the massive, anthropomorphic structure into a glittering gallery for the millions that pass through the Oculus every day.

And while her profile within the art world continues to rise—Brielmaier was tapped last winter to join the New Museum’s Board of Trustees—the mother of one is also busy nurturing the art world’s next big stars. Cutting her time in between work, attending international art fairs, and an endless stream of art benefits, the Ugandan-Austrian polymath teaches in NYU’s Tisch Photography and Visuals department as a Critical Studies professor. The fast-paced career takes a sharp eye, a rich passion for design, and as Brielmaier tells Fashion Fair, a simple but impactful beauty routine.

How else to get out the door in time to attend any number of meetings, shows, and benefits, and still look fabulous?!

Here, the Seattle-raised, Brooklyn-based creative tells us how she got her start, what products get her ready for a colorful day, and her fondest Fashion Fair memories growing up in Seattle.

Tell us a little about your upbringing. How did it help shape your approach to beauty?

My upbringing was very multi-cultural given my family background which spans three continents. So the idea of “beauty” was broad and diverse. It embodied many possibilities, and this was important to offset the very narrow definition of beauty that predominated in the U.S. when I was young.

Do you recall Fashion Fair while growing up?

I remember Fashion Fair from my parents’ early Ebony magazines. The first time I ever saw Fashion Fair and the many beautiful black and brown women who were strutting their stuff. And now I love the Fashion Fair Bold Lash Mascara and have been using it every day and evening. Simply great! I am aware and supportive of Fashion Fair’s legacy and proud heritage.

What was your first beauty memory?

My beauty memories are intertwined with dance and performance and the stage. Beauty was introduced and then understood as something that allows one to be present; to be visible. To make an entrance, from the wings of a theater and elsewhere….

Your career in art has so many different levels from education, curatorial, to now directorship. Tell us how you got your start.

I danced for much of my life—classical ballet and modern—and this gave me an appreciation for the visual, for the body and for the idea of prevention. I began my contemporary art career at the Guggenheim Museum, managing the museum’s public programs and events. There, I worked with artists, audiences and a wide range of both public and private partners. I was able to cultivate many relationships and to broker different partnerships—within realms of art, fashion, architecture, design and philanthropy—in support of a range of projects. I eventually went on to earn my PhD at Columbia University, and my time there really reinforced the idea that that people of different cultural backgrounds and belief systems can come together to discuss shared ideas through art. I love working with artists. In so many ways, artists are our eyes and ears of the world, so I pay very close attention to what they are doing, thinking and making.


What do you love most about the diversity of your career?

My role as Executive Director of Arts and Culture for Westfield World Trade Center as well as my Assistant Professor post at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts allow me to occupy both public and private sectors, leveraging one to benefit the other – essentially, my work in each sector endlessly enriches and empowers my work in the other. My students challenge me to think in new ways about my work outside of the university. Likewise, my work with artists and within the private sector has expanded my perspective as a curator and scholar. It has also given me a much more keen sense of business and finance as well as marketing savvy.

Is there a breakout career moment for you?

My time at the Guggenheim Museum was a highlight. And having the honor of organizing Elizabeth Catlett’s first NYC museum exhibition at the Bronx Museum was beyond humbling. She received a full two-page spread in the NY Times, just before she passed. What a spirit.

What do you think the major beauty concerns of a modern working woman are? How do you address them?

I can't speak for all working women, but for me it’s ease, simplicity and a routine that allows you to feel good. I truly believe that usually when you feel good, you look good! It starts from the inside.

The Oculus at New York's Westfield World Trade Center. Image photographed by Joseph Negari.

Image photographed by Shael Sokolowski

Image provided by Isolde Brielmaier.

As a mom, what beauty/self-love lessons do you pass along to your daughter?

I am very aware that what I do and value is being watched carefully by my young daughter, who is seven. I don't use a lot of products and I don't spend a lot of time making myself up. And when I do, she is right there observing me, so I keep things simple. And I very much try to emphasize the internal for her. Your heart, compassion and passion, joy, courage…these are the things that matter. I always tell her to know her truth. To be who she is and to be proud. I tell her that everyone has gifts and everyone is different and this is what makes life interesting. She knows—and she will tell you—that she is unique!

What's your beauty routine for work and your busy schedule like?

I am really a very simple gal when it comes to skincare, etc. I wash my face in the morning and at night, use a scrub once a day and moisturize like crazy. I am a huge fan of moisturizing. In the morning I use a simple cleanser or a gentle apricot scrub and then a Botanical Cleansing Oil in the evening.

When it comes to your hair, what’s your routine like?

I have seen many folks over the years but over the past few, I go to Salon 718 in Prospect Height, Brooklyn. Some of the best cuts I’ve had. I love L’Oreal Absolut Repair Cellular Shampoo and Conditioner - it's rich and moisturizing.

Self-care is also vital when juggling so much. How do you unwind and center yourself from your hectic life?

I love the outdoors. I grew up in the great Northwest, so hiking, climbing, camping. I love to be in the wilderness. And in NYC, I hit Prospect Park (in Brooklyn) all the time. I can spend hours there if I have the time. It’s humbling and quieting. Pure joy. And I do love the water, so the beach is wonderful. One of my favorite places.

When do you feel you're most beautiful? Do you think beauty ideals are changing in a positive way these days?

I feel beautiful when I care for myself. When I take a deep breath, ground myself and live life from the inside out. I feel awake, in tune, aware and strong.