Posts tagged alex box
Posts tagged alex box
A few things have lead me to writing a blog about this slightly odd topic; this will be a post about “THINGS YOU CAN STICK ON YOUR FACE”, for lack of a better turn of phrase. Or rather, embellishment, the haberdashery of makeup. When the vision calls for it, makeup doesn’t need to stop at powders and paints, we’ve been adding lashes for years without a thought, and gems on the odd occasion, so why not take things a little further?
Those who’ve read my post about Alex Box will have heard me talk about her love for applying all sorts of unorthodox materials when creating a look, and how after my time assisting her I’ve grown to often do the same. Never again will I walk by an art shop and come out without bags of sequins, stickers and Lord knows what else. Kabuki, the Brit genius behind the stunning Manish Arora butterflies is a master of creating beautiful bejewelled applique for the face. I remember the first time I was handed a Topolino book by my tutor back in my college days, being amazed by his use of flower petals and feathers, a look much copied, to the point where artists are now hungry for new materials to manipulate and create with.
The editorial that recently got me thinking about the subject at hand, is the jawdroppingly beautiful "Butterfly Effect" story featuring heavenly new face Elza Luijendijk that Ben Toms recently shot for Dazed and Confused. The images are surreal, ethereal and jaw-droppingly beautiful, as Peter Phillips uses, what at times look like real butterflies, moths and insects to embellish the skin of the delicate looking model. This is one of those “God I wish I’d thought of that” type editorials, using unorthodox materials, in a totally new way, to wondrous effect. Just plain stunning.
And for those wanting to rock the look but not yet ready to go out covered in lovely bugs, there are more “wearable” options, should you wish to embellish that pretty little face of yours. "Face Lace" is a great concept, perfectly executed and designed by makeup artist Phyllis Cohen. Yes you guessed it, it’s like lace, but for your face. Joking aside, Phyllis has created truly beautiful applique pieces that can be applied over makeup, creating stunningly intricate patterns on the skin. It feels as though the concept, if handled by the wrong person, could have come out feeling cheap, and looking it, but FaceLace looks the opposite; elegant, high end and expensive. They range from just £11.63 for smaller pieces, to £16.63 for the beautiful Noveau eye mask. I think my favourite is the Fleurty design seen below. God I’d put these on everyone if I could. Yummers.
And for those not quite ready to go the whole hog, why not pick up a set of the absolutely darling Paperself lashes? That’s right, you guessed again, false lashes, made from paper. The designs on these beauties are something you need to be more up close and personal to see, but work so, so beautifully as a gorgeously unique bit of detail to add to your makeup. At £10.50 or £12.50, in whimsical designs ranging from under the sea scenes to deers and butterlies, they’re just so dinky and gorgeous they make my heart flutter a little bit.
Not ballsy enough for you? Need more inspiration? Look no further than this ode to awesome embellishment. Now excuse me, I’m off to my local Hobbycraft.
Those of you who know Alex Box's work, will know she is a definate one in a million, when it comes to her creativity, vision and execution. There are only a handful of great makeup artists in the industry whose work is instantly recogniseable and Alex may top that list; her use of colour and texture, her incredible brush work and precise lines, her vision of twisted beauty, are all wonderfully unique to her. Often immitated but never equalled, there is a soul behind Alex's work that gets lost in poor immitations.
I like to think that all makeup artists are artists, each with our own vision and style, but to call Ms Box an artist goes without saying. As her recent book with Rankin proved, shots of these creations could hang on a gallery wall and captivate viewers in their own right. After her formative years in Grimbsy, Alex went on to study fine art at Chelsea College of Art, an unconventional route into makeup (which we all know often produces the greatest makeup artists!). While that fine art background may go some way to explaining her approach to her creations, when watching her work you come to see that perhaps her vision of the world, and beauty, is just intrinsically different to the rest of us folk. The looks she creates are never forced, never too thought out or pre-planned, it is true creativity and fantasy, and is inspirational to watch.
Over the years I’ve seen Alex perform masterclasses to packed rooms in which she doesn’t say a word, and builds her looks to music which she has painstakingly chosen to match the mood of each creation. She’s sent models down the runway with LED lights in their mouths, and perspex visors over their eyes (both with Gareth Pugh, never have a designer and makeup artist been so utterly perfect for each other!). I first remember hearing her name in my days as a MAC artist, many moons ago. She had created the look below, to advertise one of their new face powders that consisted of a close up of a black painted face, spattered with loose powder. It was ballsy and beautiful, and so far removed from the usual flawless, airbrushed cosmetic ads.
Then when I moved to London I joined the team at Illamasqua, where Alex is creative director. Her vision is key to the brand, and she’s a definate mother of the Illamasqua family. This was where I began working alongside Alex at a variety of shoots, shows and events. Alex was unlike anyone I’d ever assisted before, not only was she so obviously passionate about her art and wonderfully articulate in her desriptions of looks and ideas, but she was almost maternal with the young artists around her. Not to mention eye-wateringly stylish, with her trademark bleached streak and vampish nails, red-lipstick and vintage wardrobe, not a hair out of place (God I would kill for that wardrobe…). She openly complimented good work, was always happy to answer questions about technique, and most importantly she trusted us and our creativity and really let us get stuck in, see myself and the lovely Alex below, creating her riotous vision of acid-trip, neon flower children for House of Blue Eyes, each model had their own look, and they were incredible!
As I said earlier, Alex’s work is often immitated, even sometimes, strangely, by her peers, and while I would never wish to immitate another artist’s work (where’s the fun in that?!), I can definately see elements to my style that were picked up during my time alongside Ms Box. Alex taught me to be brave with colour, to use it in unconventional ways and with real strength and purpose. She taught me to embrace unconventional materials, she’s been known to use stickers, coloured hair spray, shuttlecocks, post-it notes, icing sugar, food colouring, even parts of lampshades and cushions, the list goes on! I now love scouring poundshops, art shops, fancy dress shops, markets, for exciting bits for the kit. Alex taught me how to block out an eyebrow, and to create a hyper-perfect brow in its place, and not to limit myself to the natural contours and features of the face. And most of all, she taught me to trust my own vision of beauty, and that makeup really can be art.
Big love to you Boxy! …x
This one, is not a trend for the faint hearted by any means, however if you’re a saucy little minx who’s not afraid to have a bit of fun with their makeup, then you’re time has well and truly come! From Meadham Kirchoff to Mary Katrantzou, lips that packed a serious punch were popping up across various shows for this season, from neons, to aquas, to sickly sweet pinks, lips were bright, bold, and colourwise were definitely stealing the limelight for once.
Pantone style lips may not be mainstream as yet, but they’re certainly nothing new in the world of alternative beauty. The delightful Doe Deere over at Limecrime has been selling, and wearing, her supercute, high pigment, candy coloured lipsticks since the modern age of makeup tutorials began. And groundbreaking beauty brand Illamasqua have been pioneers of this trend since their conception over three years ago now, with lipsticks, glosses and pencils in unapologetic shades of whites, blues, greens… The teal lipstick, £15.50, in "Apocalips" (love it) on Alex Box's “reverse Marilyn Monroe” image, has been flying off the shelves. Alex, long a pioneer herself of the coloured lip, made a great point when talking about how the subconscious brain sees beauty. If you create a beautifully applied makeup, with a perfectly drawn lip, even once the colour switches, “the eye is tricked into accepting this beautiful shade as totally wearable”. And that is key, application is everything here. Bozo the clown lips are not de rigeur.
One of the great things about living in East London, is that the younger generation round our way certainly do, quite literally in this case, put their money where their mouth is when it comes to fashion. I’ve seen girls and guys out playing in Dalston on a Saturday night rocking blue, matte pepto bismol pink and dark green lips already, so if this look is your cup of fizzy pop then these next products will have you positively foaming at the mouth. Any makeup artist, or makeup enthusiast with any respect for colour theory needs to get their hands on a set of Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics lip tars. These things are UNBELIEVABLE.
Originally put out there as a cruelty free, vegan makeup brand, OCC make a whole range of cosmetics, but in the past couple of years word has spread about these bad boys and the lip tars have taken on a life of their own. I can’t begin to find the words to describe to you the amount of pigment in these products. A tiny dot, literally, half a grain of rice sized, will do you a full on, solid coloured lip, in the most moisturising, will-not-budge colour imaginable. And you will need a lovely lip brush and a good few mins set aside to get this just right, something like Crown’s sable lip brush at £3.66, will do just fine.
Now, when they really come into their own, is when you get mixing. They come in 36 ready mixed shades (on investigation I’ve just realised this now includes NEON!! Oh my god!!! Excuse me while I go into cosmetic cardiac arrest for a minute. Carry on…) By all means you can buy each and every one, or you can do the sneaky thing and purchase yourself a red, yellow, blue, white and black. From these you can mix, any, and I mean ANY shade imaginable. When I created the deep blood red lips for the Nabil Nayal fashion week presentation last season, I used these, in red and black. The most gorgeous nude lip I recently created for Immodesty Blaize, was a concoction of red and yellow, mixed with white, with a dot of blue to calm down any orange tones. Every time I get these out to use them on a shoot I get excited, I even used them recently to create a glossy bright yellow eye for a piece of editorial. And look at Wiz Khalifa’s missus Amber Rose, and Beyonce’s lil sis Solange, they’re rocking them too God love em!
At the moment OCC are mainly stocked in the good old US of A, selling at $14 a pop, but UK citizens do not fear, they do have a stand each year at the IMATS. But if you just can’t wait til then, then get ye to the Makeup Artist Boutique's online store, for just £8.99 each they'll hook you up.
Like many a statement makeup look, this lip is best worn with little else, polished skin, beautiful contouring, fluttery lashes… and if you really want to go balls to the wall, make like the sexy sirens from outter space seen at Thierry Mugler, get down your local art shop and pick up some glitter to press onto that kisser.
Go on, I dare you.
I’m really relishing the thought of getting the chance to spill the beans about some of my favourite makeup artists over time, maybe introduce you to the work of some you’ve not seen before, and for purely selfish reasons, to get the time to look back over their work and find inspiration all over again! The temptation is to talk about the more obscure artists, or certainly those that aren’t the MVPs, or perhaps newer artists, to keep things interesting.
Truthfully though, that would seem to be a case of cutting off my nose to spite my face, as the fact is that while there are a plethora of incredible, inspiring makeup artists at the top of their game right now, one woman always stands out as THE makeup artist. The Queen Bee if you will. And that lady is of course, Miss Pat McGrath.
To 99.999% of society, uttering the name of Pat McGrath would result in a stream of blank faces, and oh what a poor, unenlightened bunch they would be, because to makeup artists, this woman is kind of like our Elvis. Basically a bit of a legend. I don’t get starstruck these days when working with celebs, and friends will vouch for the fact that I’m rarely tongue tied, but when I saw Miss McGrath quietly having a mooch around Selfridges beauty hall a few years ago, I was struck by the need to rush up and gush at her like a crazed fan, coupled with a total inability to think of anything to say. I turned into a total fan girl. And for that reason alone she has to be be the subject of my first Ode to a Makeup Artist. Vogue didn’t call her “The most influential makeup artist in the world” for nuthin’.
Originally from the more than slightly unglamorous no man’s land of Northampton, like many other great makeup artists McGrath had no formal training, although she did study basic Art Foundation upon leaving school. It seems the makeup academies and courses that are so prevalent these days are a modern monster, they didn’t much exist at all a decade ago, and as such most of the makeup artists I hold in great esteem never trained in any official fashion. Becoming a makeup artist was merely an extension of their already thriving creativity. Alex Box began as a fine artist, Kay Montano as a club kid, Kabuki as a fabric designer. People like Pat are part of the reason I believe it’s passion and a love of the arts that make a true makeup artist, not the ability to write a thesis on the various layers of the epidermis, or afford the often astronomical fees.
Pat first came to prominence in the early 90s, working regularly with the then relatively unknown iD magazine, her use of colour, texture and her unique eye for undeniably cool beauty helped raise the magazine to prominence. She still remains their beauty director to this day and hasn’t looked back since.
Pick your favourite Italian Vogue covers, or American Vogue editorials, big chance that was Pat McGrath. Love that Steven Meisel shoot? No doubt Pat McGrath. Thought Rooney Mara looked like a beautiful badass in “Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”? that was Pat’s doing. Using a product by Armani, SKII, Max Factor, D&G? Designed by Pat McGrath. Wearing an on trend makeup look? Don’t be surprised if, even without your knowing it, like some sort of Derren Browne of beauty, it was inspired by Pat McGrath. This is because Pat has, for the last Lord knows how many years, designed more runway looks than any other artist. She has a crack team of assistants, racing with her around roughly thirty five shows per fashion week, with 2 vans FULL of makeup, tools and references. Rumour has it her kit consists of roughly 50 hold-alls and suitcases (my heart is all a flutter). The makeup artist Kenneth Soh, part of Pat’s team, used to regale me with tales of the looks they had created that season, and I absolutely relished hearing about the different products and techniques that had gone into creating each look.
From the decadent, surreal creatures she created for Galliano at Dior, to the understated, polished healthy glow of Stella McCartney, each season Pat creates the looks, that filter through to become the makeup trends, that are sold in the shops and are then worn on the faces of girls in your street. The prevalence of bleached brows on the braver fashionistas in recent years? You can thank Pat for that. And the fact that the red lip, after so, so many years, still remains a classic symbol of glamour and sensuality, season after season? Don’t be surprised if Pat has something to do with it.
So there you have it, a frankly far too short and not remotely gush-worthy enough profile of my ultimate makeup heroine. Thankfully it seems Pat shows no sign of putting down her makeup brushes (or fingers, she loves to apply with those fingers!) any time soon, so we’ll get to enjoy her neverending, always changing creativity for years yet. And now I’ll leave you to drool over a selection of some of my favourite McGrath creations of recent years.
What a ledge.
- Vogue Italia - November 2009 -
- Dior - Spring/Summer 2009 -
- Dolce & Gabbana Cosmetics - Autumn/Winter 2009 -
- Dior - Autumn/Winter 2008 -
-Vogue Germany - March 2011 -
- Prada Fragrance - Fall/Winter 2009 -
- Gucci - Autumn/Winter 2011 -
- Vogue Italia - May 2009 -
- Dior Haute Couture - Spring/Summer 04 -
- V Magazine - July 2009 -
- Louis Vuitton - Spring Summer 2011 -