Meet Isamaya Ffrench, the ‘Salvador Dalí of Modern Makeup’ Who Sees the Face as a 3D Canvas – artnet News

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Ffrench has painted many a well-known face (Cher, Kate Moss, Rihanna) with a Dadaist colour palette and even prosthetics. Now, she’s launched her personal magnificence model.
Maya Asha McDonald,
At first blush, one would possibly describe Isamaya Ffrench as a make-up artist (or MUA), however the label proves woefully reductive. Whereas her painted faces have graced the runways of Thom Browne, Junya Watanabe, and Vivienne Westwood, she is an artist with a capital A.
Citing English painter Francis Bacon, French photographer and perfumer Serge Lutens, and Japanese illustrator Hajime Sorayama as inspirations—visible artists who had been as soon as on the vanguard of innovation—Ffrench is now carrying the torch ahead in her personal manner.
Utilizing the human face and physique as her canvases—together with these of Cher, Bella Hadid, and most not too long ago Kate Moss for the September 2022 cowl of French Vogue, to not point out her personal—she typically conjures whiplash traces attribute of Artwork Nouveau whereas using Brutalist supplies like concrete and metal. Armed with an in-depth information of prosthetics and a Dadaist colour palette, her oeuvre integrates the visible legacy of the twentieth century with an elevated Ex Machina-type twist that feels eerily overseas.
In My New Flesh, a 2021 efficiency piece she created for WePresent, Ffrench slithers out of a tub onto a flooring of concrete slabs beneath flickering lights, her head coated in tentacles. In a world of pretenders, she is the real article—one thing unflinching and avant-garde.
“Isamaya Ffrench is a actual visionary,” said Edward Enninful, the editor-in-chief of British Vogue. In the meantime, Fashionista dubbed her the “Salvador Dalí of modern makeup.”
Swatches of the Industrial Shade Pigments eyeshadow palette by Isamaya Magnificence. Courtesy of Isamaya Magnificence.
Ffrench’s artistry is just too idiosyncratic for comparisons, nevertheless. And now, she has actually launched her personal model, Isamaya Beauty. It presents vegan in addition to cruelty- and paraben-free cosmetics in themed capsule collections, dropping each few months in restricted editions.
“Surrealism truly feels too contrived for me, or too removed from the reality—a bit like vogue versus artwork,” Ffrench informed me over matcha lattes one latest afternoon at Soho Home in London’s Mayfair. Carrying a structured black bodysuit with peekaboo cutouts, figure-hugging acid-washed denims, dramatically winged eyeliner, and a broad smile, she exuded la présence (because the French would say).
“Individuals would possibly assume I’m drawn to fantasy due to the inventive nature of my work, however I’m truly not. I’m a reality seeker.” (By the way, for the Might 2020 cowl of British Vogue, Ffrench painted the phrase “reality” throughout Rihanna’s eye line.)
She continued: “I’ve all the time been taken by Artwork Nouveau’s appreciation for the pure world. I’m additionally a sucker for Dada and Brutalism—I like the graphic, fierce honesty that comes with these kinds and supplies.”
Ffrench’s uncanny, sculptural creations have bedecked the covers of assorted Vogue editions, in addition to the pages of Harper’s Bazaar and Love Journal. For an October 2017 Dazed unfold shot by Daniel Sannwald, she reworked musician Yves Tumor’s enamel into cracked white-and-blue porcelain veneers with gold seams, each nodding to the traditional Japanese artwork of Kintsugi (which mends damaged ceramics with lacquer and gold) and taking part in with the pop-culture imagery of blinged-out grillz.
Ffrench turned musician Yves Tumor’s enamel into her canvas, shot by Daniel Sannwald for Dazed. Courtesy of Isamaya Ffrench.
“Isamaya has such genuine creativity,” said Riccardo Tisci, the chief inventive officer of Burberry, for which Ffrench has served as the worldwide magnificence director since 2020. “She isn’t afraid to push boundaries” (see the prosthetic Bambi-inspired ears she created for the model’s Spring 2022 womenswear presentation).
Ffrench’s non-traditional story started in her hometown of Cambridge, England, the place as a toddler she fell in love with the Kevyn Aucoin tomes The Artwork of Make-up and Making Faces. Later, whereas finding out in London, she realized face portray to earn some extra cash, which led to working at posh youngsters’s birthday events (assume Coldplay offspring).
Earlier than lengthy, she discovered herself portray grownup faces at British designer Christopher Shannon’s 2011 menswear presentation. Her playful creations had been noticed by i-D Journal, which employed Ffrench for her first vogue pictures shoot—and the remaining, as they are saying, is artwork historical past.
“I used to be alien to the make-up trade,” stated Ffrench, who studied product design at Central Saint Martins and skilled as knowledgeable dancer. “My first ever shoot was as a physique painter” (in 2011, with British digital artist Matthew Stone, she reworked the mannequin Alek Wek right into a dwelling clay sculpture for i-D Journal). “I suppose that was refreshing to the inventive individuals who employed me for editorials.
“With make-up, you’re portray on a 3D canvas, however I method it as a method, not an finish. I take advantage of it as a part of an even bigger image, and if that greater image requires me to create one thing make-up can’t attain, I’ll go additional and use different issues.”
In Paco Rabanne’s 2019 Phantom fragrance commercial, she used elaborate face, ear, arm, and horn prosthetics, mixed with snake-eye lenses and facial rhinestone appliqué, to create a glowing menagerie of horny aliens. And for Put It On Your Face, a brief movie that she made with Byredo (the place she was beforehand the inventive director) and Italian Vogue in 2022, Ffrench tapped her previous dance troop—the multidisciplinary, London-based Theo Adams Firm—to choreograph a Chicago-esque routine.
Along with make-up, Ffrench typically works with prosthetics. Shot by Daniel Sannwald for Interview Journal. Courtesy of Isamaya Ffrench.
“Isamaya is a maestro within the subject of ‘It shouldn’t work, but it surely does,’” the British painter Benjamin Spiers informed me. “It’s fascinating to speak along with her about artwork as a result of her extremely particular and deeply astute visible intelligence all the time brings one thing new into the sunshine. That intelligence manifests in every part she does, from her personal artwork to how she clothes.”
He added, “It’s all the time a pleasure to see her as a result of it’s all the time a shock. Which is one other manner of claiming she’s a risk-taker, she’s stressed; she’s an explorer, all the time inclined to attempt to discover a novel manner of doing issues.”
The debut Isamaya Magnificence assortment, Industrial, dropped at Selfridges in July, that includes a flexible eye shadow palette and BDSM-inspired packaging with wearable chrome rings and earrings. Accompanied by an erotic efficiency piece filmed by Steven Klein, it solidified Ffrench’s position because the patron saint of inventive nonconformists all over the place.
“There are such a lot of artwork types and subcultures that by no means make it into the business magnificence world, and I’m excited to champion these,” stated the artist, who’s on the brink of drop her subsequent assortment this fall. “It’ll be wild—with a capital W.”

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By Artnet News
By Vittoria Benzine
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