Isamaya Ffrench: The visionary makeup artist with an impressive clientele featuring Rihanna, Kylie Jenner, Kate Moss and more
Not just a pretty face
You may not know who Isamaya Ffrench is. But chances are, you've probably already seen her work. The faces she's painted have graced the covers of our favourite publications, Instagram feeds as well as runway shows. Her portfolio is practically a tour de force within the beauty industry.
Known for her subversive, boundary-breaking looks, makeup artist Isamaya Ffrench (also founder of digital title, Dazed Beauty) is not interested in the conventional. She goes for the jugular; abstract and avant-garde are her bread and butter. Remember the time when Zendaya was transformed into a (literal) old lady and Queen RiRi graced Vogue UK with pencil-thin, skinny arches that induced gasps (and piss-poor attempts at imitation) all over the world? Thank Ffrench. Other mainstream successes include becoming YSL Beauté's UK makeup ambassador at the tender age of 25, curating a hella impressive portfolio backed by iconic fashion houses such as Hermès and Chanel, and most recently, emerging as the new global makeup artist for Christian Louboutin Beauty.
Non-believers can browse the gallery of her best works above. Intrigued? The following facts about Ffrench — from her sources of inspiration (most of which feature Arnold Schwarzenegger, if you can believe it) to her obsession with a certain fungus — will surprise you.
1. She has a background in industrial design
Ffrench went to Central Saints Martin and studied Industrial Design, but later discovered at 22 that she didn't want to design "mobile phones and chairs and stuff." Her education did, however, come handy as it taught her how to approach faces in a more conceptual way. In an interview with SSense Magazine, she details, "I always try to build some sort of narrative or character with the work. I'm not really that bothered about aesthetics and makeup or fashion for the sake of it. It has to be entertaining and tell a story."
2. Cooking was her first love — and she was invited to be a contestant on Masterchef
Before she got into makeup, Ffrench contemplated becoming a full-fledged chef following a move to London. Unfortunately, the idea was shelved after a couple of bad experiences with "cocky, hot-blooded male chefs." She was later invited to be a contestant on the first season of Masterchef (which she rejected) before going on to create her own limited-edition, edible cosmetics line spilling with wacky textures, flavours, and colours. You do you, girl.
3. Her next backup career plan involved mushrooms
Attributing her interest in fungi to a love for all things nature, Ffrench elaborates in an interview with I-D Magazine that she "got really heavily into mycology at one point." Yes, that's, uh, the study of mushrooms. She managed to get an interview with the head of mycology at the Royal Botanical Society at Kew Gardens. Alas, the job went to someone else.
4. Terminator 2 and Total Recall serve as major sources of inspiration
The die-hard fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger credits both movies' progressive special-effects makeup and overall styling aesthetic for the playful and silly prosthetics seen in her work for Medea and Vivienne Westwood.
5. Her biggest beauty faux paus involved a bottle of bleach and poor decision-making
Said bleach didn't end up on her hair, but rather, her brows. "My boyfriend at the time said I looked like I had radiation poisoning," she declares in an interview with Refinery29. Ffrench turned what some would consider a hair don't into career do — she fashioned her mistake into art on the Junya Watanabe spring/summer 2019 runway.
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