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The White House Says Carl Ray, Not Erwin Gomez, Is the First Lady’s Makeup Artist

An official confirms after a news website in the Philippines published a report stating Michelle Obama was a client of Gomez.

Photograph of Carl Ray (left) by Andrew Propp. Photograph of Erwin Gomez (right) by Vincent Ricardel.
Gomez’s story on a news site in Manila.

When it comes to his role in her life, Washington makeup artist Carl Ray is a lockbox about his appointments with First Lady Michelle Obama. But while he’s discreet, others talk, so it is quietly known that he does her makeup for public appearances and special occasions, including all her appearances for the recent inauguration. 

So it was interesting when an item appeared last week on a news site in Manila, proclaiming her makeup artist to be DC-based Erwin Gomez, who is a native of the Philippines. The ABS-CBN News quoted Gomez as saying that during inauguration events he was “so busy I wanted to cry.”

It was the item’s lead sentence that got attention among the fashionista set back in Washington: “US First Lady Michelle Obama is only one of the many celebrity clients of a well-known Filipino artist who recently opened a 4,000-square-foot salon in Washington.” Gomez’s representative insists the website misinterpreted comments he made in a television interview in which he reportedly said “he did the First Lady’s family” during the first term. “This has been cleared up with everyone,” the rep said.*

So what gives? Who is the First Lady’s makeup artist? According to the White House it is not Erwin Gomez. A White House official Monday morning, in a phone conversation with The Washingtonian, confirmed unequivocally, “Carl Ray is the First Lady’s makeup artist.”

Gomez was visiting in the Philippines for the past two weeks, according to his rep. The ABS-CBN report noted, “Despite his success in the US, Gomez never fails to return to his roots and makes it a point to visit the Philippines often.”

Last year Gomez opened Karma, the successor to the Erwin Gomez salon he operated in Georgetown with former partner James Packard Gomez, a relationship that ended in a legal morass that forced the closure of the salon.

Ray works out of the George at the Four Seasons salon at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown. He started doing the First Lady’s makeup early in the first term after a colleague recommended him. When we reached out to him Monday he said through a spokesperson, “The reason I’m successful is that I don’t comment when I’m asked to comment.”

*This post has been updated from a previous version.

  • Jen T

    Hey lame brains - he never said that he did Michelle Obama's make-up. He said that he worked on some of the First family which are people related. Hello. He worked his ass off. Make fun if you want but I know him personally and he works all the time. He is a hard worker. As far as the White House scandal, he didn't do that. She went to his salon before she pulled that stunt. He had to testify as to what she said while she was at the salon and also because it aired on Bravo. If you knew Erwin then you wouldn't have anything but postive things to say.

  • Pam

    I am so glad the truth came out. I guess this is an example of what happens when one does not tell the truth.

  • cindy

    This is a great article. I am going to make an appointment with Carl Ray today!

  • I think this is really a very nice post.

  • James

    & I love how on 1 hand his rep calls the Phillipines "third world" but on the other hand Erwin is quoted as bringing "Phillipine customer service to the U.S"...personally if I walked into a salon for the first time & was greeted with a fake "guest hug" i would be totally creeped out!

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