Isamaya Ffrench

In a “face-off” between Picasso and Isamaya Ffrench, we like to imagine that Isamaya would slay it. She’s the woman responsible for elevating makeup artistry to an art form, and her series of looks for Christian Cowan’s much talked about debut runway for New York Fashion Week has consolidated her reputation for subversive style and a narrative bent.

This is no mean feat for the product designer who came up through the ranks via painting kids’ faces. Wherever her talent comes from, there’s a common thread in her career-long use of gems and diamanté for cosmetic application, graduating to genuine Swarovski crystals as her work became more sought after and prestigious.

For Cowan’s show the paint job had to be ditzy with dazzle, as glittering celeb culture and the cheeky meme generation held sway. There was a wink at the Blitz Kids of the 80s, with dramatic Steve Strange/Boy George sweeps of red, black and blue. It was a palette accented with Glam Rock ruby crystal studding and underlined with shimmering ruby lips. Then, taking the concept visionary, clear crystal constellations were placed across gleaming skin—almost floating—like so many femme fatale veils. The limelight-loving Paris Hilton made the perfect grand finale dressed as an outrageously fun prom queen, rocking giant silver sequins and a skyscraping tiara. In keeping with her Barbie-esque persona, eyes and lips had changed to a frosted bubblegum pink. It was a hugely entertaining performance from both Cowan and Ms Hilton, and a singularly sophisticated series of portraits from Ms Ffrench.

Backstage and GIFs Serichai Traipoom
Runway images
Getty Images