Isamaya Ffrench is not strange in the fashion world. She is one of the most forward-thinking creative make-up artists in the industry, as well known for her work with icons such as Kate Moss, Madonna and Cher her list extends to cool brands such Thom Browne, Vivienne Westwood, Junya Watanabe, Balmain and Off-White.
As one of the most in-demand make-up artists, she started her career painting children’s faces as a side-job, then, she never stopped. Her meteoric rise has granted her accolades including industry stalwarts such as Nick Knight hailing her as the next big thing.
Raised in a family of engineers, the self-taught artist is well-known not only by her “darkish” creative aesthetic but also by her use of bold and daring prosthetics in runway looks. With a non-conformist way of thinking, she looks outside the beauty world to create her own.
Her namesake beauty brand, ISAMAYA, is drawing a lot of attention, for the right reasons. Challenging the conventions of beauty, her first makeup collection was inspired by the dark world of BDSM, with an eyeshadow palette with a 3-D-printed woman’s body. The tops of the highlighter, the lip gloss and mascara are pierced with mega silver hoops. The follow-up collection, Wild Star, is a sexy-rodeo inspired palette with crystals encrusted packaging all shiny gold with warm undertones. Now, once more, she caused a global frisson around the globe with her recent collection, releasing the raunchy penis-shaped lipsticks!
Her penis-shaped collection was well received by beauty enthusiasts, especially within the viral social media. Isamaya proved once again that sex sells…she might have gone too far for some, but we love it! She’s now adding to the penis-family a celebratory pink flamingo with fanfair…she’s travelling the world with a larger-than-life penis replica, for the amusement of customs officers.
Her latest campaign broke the internet, again, a raunchy BDSM inspired campaign starring nothing less than Julia Fox alongside model Richie Shazam. We had a quick chat with Isamaya to find out her inspirations...
Photo: Hugo Yangüela
Name: Isamaya Ffrench
Solar sign: Aries
Occupation: Creative director/Makeup artist
The meaning of the word “Freedom” is very subjective, as it is shaped by our individual experiences. What does the word or concept of freedom mean to you? When do you feel most free?
—Freedom is doing what you want without constraint - socially, politically, whateverly.
Makeup is a self-expression tool and in your vast creative work (art, music, beauty) has this unconventional flair…..Is the “unconventional” your muse?
— Not really. I’m just not interested in recreating something that has been done before. Working on a new project barely involves images of makeup, I prefer to look elsewhere. I suppose that explains why my work is described as unconventional as it’s generally perceived in the beauty ’space’.
You provoked a global stir within the beauty aficionados with the phallic lipstick (yummy!). How did this idea come to fruition? Were there any challenges due to the sexual connotation of the product?
— I can’t really remember where the idea came from, sometimes things just pop into my head with such a strong force, my entire being is dedicated to making it a reality. Such as the case of the cock lipstick… it just felt right. We had so many warnings from legal and social media perspectives but we decided to go for it anyway because our approach was very elevated and straight-forward. I’m glad we did, the general reaction has been amazing.
The larger-than-life penis featured in the brand’s campaign was jaw dropping (no sexual innuendo here!)…..what happened to the gigantic metallic penis????
— It was built in a warehouse in East London, then travelled to Paris for our launch party during last fashion week and it’s currently on its way to Miami for Art Basel… Clearing it through customs has been entertaining…
Your favourite place is... (it could be a location, city…)
— I did a trip to Patagonia years ago and it’s probably the most gorgeous place I’ve been to - so remote and wild… I’m off to Mongolia to horse ride in the Gobi desert in July and I’m hoping it’ll be a strong second.
Is there any specific poem, book, song or artwork that you come back to?
— I always say that I want to walk down the aisle on the song “Angie” by the band “shame”. I always seem to come back to Jordan Wolfson’s work because I like its intellectual background and it challenges my mind.
Do you have a favourite smell?
— I don’t actually… One thing I can’t stand is synthetic flowers and floral scents though.. What a way to destroy something so perfect… Can you encapsulate that for me Winder?
Do you have any special sensorial memories? (a memory that comes up when you smell something, it could be a moment, a memory, a place, a person…)
— I had an ink stamp when I was little, it was purple and smelled of grape… I used to sit there sniffing it for hours, God knows what it contained but I’m sure I lost a few brain cells in the process!
Her fiery creativity, as good Aries she is, is not limited to beauty…Isamaya gives her angelic vocals to Alto Arc, a four-piece ensemble, composed of Deafheaven’s George Clarke, Danny L Harle, Hundred Waters’ Trayer Tryon, and Isamaya. Unlike anything else, their music is a theatrical and heady listen that borrows on “ye olde '' melodies. With striking visuals and theatrical production to conjure heady dreamscapes where beauty and despair clash beautifully.
Watch Isamaya's latest music video here
You can buy Isamaya here