CRAZY BEAU­TI­FUL

Make up artist Isamaya Ffrench is a ris­ing star whose work is bonkers but in the most cap­ti­vat­ing way.

Fashion (Canada) - - The Market | People - Pho­tog­ra­phy by Owen Bruce Beauty di­rec­tion & story by Lesa Han­nah Styling by Fiona Green Creative di­rec­tion by Brit­tany Ec­cles

When she was seven, Isamaya Ffrench dis­cov­ered Kevyn Au­coin’s Mak­ing Faces while in a book­shop with her mom. The late Amer­i­can makeup artist’s in­struc­tional cof­fee-ta­ble tome mes­mer­ized Ffrench with the trans­for­ma­tions it show­cased and al­lowed her to es­cape. “I’d try ev­ery sin­gle tech­nique and mem­o­rize the il­lus­tra­tions,” she says, sit­ting in the lounge area of New York’s Milk Stu­dios. “They were so vivid for me.” De­spite her early ex­po­sure to the craft, Ffrench, who was born in Cam­bridge, Eng­land, never in­tended to be­come a makeup artist her­self. But dur­ing univer­sity, as a way to avoid work­ing at a bar, she started face paint­ing for chil­dren’s birth­day par­ties and fell in love. A four-hour work­shop pro­vided the ba­sic fun­da­men­tals (“the Spi­der­mans and stuff”) and also taught her how to work fast. “If you’ve got 25 kids and just one hour, you only have two min­utes per kid,” she says. “It was this crazy train­ing to be con­fi­dent and quick with my lines and also to un­der­stand face struc­ture.” Even­tu­ally she got signed by a “posh” agency and ended up at high-end par­ties for the chil­dren of mem­bers of Cold­play and the Spice Girls.

While study­ing in­dus­trial de­sign, Ffrench was asked by a friend to paint bod­ies with clay for an i-D mag­a­zine shoot. “This other makeup artist was do­ing beau­ti­ful skin,” she says. “I re­mem­ber wash­ing my nasty brushes in the sink and look­ing at her »

kit and think­ing ‘That looks so much eas­ier than what I’m do­ing. I’ve gotta do that.’ That was it.” She bought foun­da­tions and started to get booked, but she still tended to do lots of spe­cial ef­fects be­cause of her ex­pe­ri­ence with us­ing wire mesh and la­tex. Ffrench’s abil­ity—and de­sire—to do avant-garde looks and push bound­aries sets her apart from the dime-a-dozen makeup artists who only know how to con­tour and high­light faces for red car­pets. She has turned Zen­daya into an old lady (“She was up for it!”), used red glit­ter to look like blood trick­ling from an eye and added in­di­vid­ual false lashes (which re­sem­bled spi­der legs once ap­plied) to eye­brows. It would be an un­der­state­ment to say that some of her looks are to­tally fucked up. “I don’t re­ally care about things look­ing pretty for the sake of it,” she says. “That just doesn’t move me in the way some­thing more emo­tional might. It tends to be hu­man emo­tion with a char­ac­ter.” She also has no ego, of­ten fea­tur­ing her­self on her own In­sta­gram ac­count in ab­surd looks and with ac­com­pa­ny­ing silly ex­pres­sions. “I’m Bri­tish,” she says. “We like to take the piss out of our­selves.” At just 28, Ffrench has al­ready amassed a strik­ing list of cre­den­tials. She has worked with pho­tog­ra­phers David Sims and Nick Knight and done editorials for Vogue Italia and run­way looks for Kenzo and Iris van Her­pen. She’s also in­ter­na­tional creative artist con­sul­tant for Tom Ford Beauty. (The de­signer got tipped off about Ffrench’s tal­ent by Carine Roit­feld.) Ford tasked her with cre­at­ing a third pil­lar among his cos­met­ics called Ex­trême. “He wanted to do some­thing graphic and ed­i­to­rial,” she says. “Some­thing colour­ful and very dif­fer­ent from his ex­ist­ing line that would com­pletely change the au­di­ence.” Four lash and brow tints, in shades like ma­genta and cobalt, and 20 eye­shad­ows meant to look like “melted metal” launched in the spring, fol­lowed by eight metal­lic matte lip lac­quers. As for whether she’d ever cre­ate her own line, Ffrench is hes­i­tant. “I don’t think it would sell,” she says. “It’d be too men­tal.”

Tom Ford Shadow Ex­trême ($50) in “TFX3,” “TFX2,” “TFX7” and “TFX8” and Lash and Brow Tint ($64) in “TFX21” and “TFX22.”

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