from the Shu Uemura website :
Art is the way of life
Mr. Shu Uemura began as a makeup artist in Hollywood in 1955, having discovered his talents in art, Makeup and hair design while being bed-ridden under medical treatment in his late teenage years.
His first substantial opportunity came during the filming of Paramount's My Geisha, starring Shirley MacLaine when Ms. MacLaine's makeup artist fell ill and Mr. Uemura was called to substitute. Upon completion of Ms. MacLaine's intricate and laborious geisha makeup, Mr. Uemura had transformed the actress's Caucasian face entirely into a Japanese geisha with Asian features. There was ovation from everyone who witnessed the transformation, including Ms. MacLaine herself.
Subsequently, over the next few years, he became the makeup artist of choice amongst Hollywood actresses as well as Frank Sinatra and actor Edward G. Robinson. In 1960, Shu Uemura developed his first product - Unmask Cleansing Oil. A few years later, he opened his first makeup school in Tokyo to give comprehensive tutelage to professional makeup artists.
In 1983, he unveiled his first "open workshop/concept" cosmetics boutique in Omotesando, Tokyo. It's open-sell environment, coupled with his extensive color and brush displays attracted much attention. For many, this truly innovative concept resembled an art supplies store much more than a cosmetics boutique.