For her “Rebel Heart” tour, Madonna wanted to look “strong and fierce, but feminine at the same time”, says her makeup artist, Gina Brooke, who’s spent 10 years on and off the road with the American superstar.

“The look comes from a process of collaboration among Madonna, myself, the hairdresser and the other stylists,” Brooke said before Tuesday’s concert.

“Of course she has to have beautiful, glowing skin and a ‘full mouth’ because we felt that’s what really signifies a woman’s strength, as well as strong lashes and brows. She had to look like a rebel ready to stand up for what she believes in – love.”

Brooke has worked with Madonna on five world tours and numerous videos. “I don’t do the whole tour, but I train the makeup artists and set the looks. I come in for different countries and make sure everything is working.”

Brooke has decided she likes the final segment of the current show best. “It’s like the 1930s, because she wears a sort of flapper dress. So I made eye shadow out of real gold for her and apply it to her lips as well, with a bit of eight-hour cream on top to make it glossy. I love that era and she wears it very well.”
Brooke confirms that a concert tour is anything but glamorous. “It is very hard work, very demanding. Madonna is one of the hardest-working artists I’ve ever worked for. There is really no one like her. She’s very structured. She likes things a specific way, all the time, the same thing.

“She doesn’t meet people before show. She has the regimen she follows very rigidly. You really have to be professional – when she asks a question, you want to make sure you give her the answer right away, because if you take a minute away from her, it could cause you your job.

“Most artists show up just before the show and just perform,” Brooke said. “Madonna shows up hours before show time, checks the lights, goes through all the songs, makes sure the sound is working and so on. And what’s always amazed me is that, after all that and just before the show, she’ll sit with the head of each department, all of them with a notepad and pen. And she’ll say, ‘When I sing this song, this or that went wrong.’ She can remember every single detail of what happened at that moment and knows how it needs to be fixed. She’s a real perfectionist.”

There’s a big of magic involved in the quick costume changes, Brooke reveals.

“Underneath the stage is a small changing room, with two stylists, the makeup artist and the hairstylist, some chairs, a clothes rack and a mirror.” And every speedy change is practice-perfect. “We have to choreograph our movements for three or four weeks,” she laughs.