I’m fatigued. Everything feels the same, or rehashed, or not good enough, different enough, or challenging enough to our clearly flawed normalcy. In so many arenas, The Way Things Are is not The Way Things Should Be, and I’m not just talking about the crushing weight of capitalism and systemic racism. I’m also talking about the near-weekly beauty brand launches that have punctuated this year like moisturising, illuminating Groundhog Days.
Amidst the cascade of low-fi, gender-neutral, playful, “inclusive” and “radical” beauty brands that have launched this year, one is truly quickening our pulses. The new Byredo—known for their luxe candles and scents—makeup line is here for those who are fatigued by “pretty.” This is makeup for people who just want to scrawl their feelings, moods and instincts across their face.
Gorham tapped makeup artist and creative Isamaya Ffrench as a key collaborator for Byredo’s makeup line, which has officially launched on October 1st. Speaking to ELLE, Gorham and Ffrench shared that the pair have a kind of “outsider’s perspective” and that, Ffrench was initially hesitant about the whole thing.
“I had mixed feelings because I wasn’t really that interested in commercial makeup,” she explained. “I find it very repetitive, and it’s always the same product and campaign imagery. I said, ‘I will do this if we can really do something different.'” She added, “We wanted to create not only an innovative, interesting product, but we wanted to challenge the way people use them.”
I’m not quite sure what’s the most pleasing or classically “ugh, of course you would Ben” about this extension of the cult-favourite monochromatic Byredo brand. Is it the fact the first glimpses we got of the product were not on model’s face, but on artist Jesse Kanda’s surreal, alien-esque avatars? “I knew that I didn’t want to launch Byredo makeup with a girl wearing a lipstick,” explains Ffrench. Hard agree. Faces are over in 2020, I don’t want to see beautiful people anymore I want to see extraterrestrials!
Perhaps it’s the (actually) fresh approach to the messy, malleable and playful type of beauty that everyone seems to be trying to nail right now?
From our first peek, the Byredo makeup line actually does seem to be throwing down the innovation gauntlet. The packaging, textures and colours of the first product drop all feel fresh and non-prescriptive. Entirely vegan and in pleasingly sculptural packaging, the line is about inviting artistry: “I don’t want to tell people how to wear the cosmetics, just to inspire them,” explained Ffrench.
With the new Byredo makeup collection, we’re working with a pretty considered selection of inspired objects. The initial launch included 16 colour sticks to be used however and wherever you like, a liquid liner, a mascara, and 15 lipsticks in various shades and finishes.
The freshly launched eyeshadow compacts are kind of giving us Fluff Beauty vibes in their oyster-shaped metal packaging. The brand is calling them ‘raindrop’ compacts and offering three different colourways: Sciomancer, Syren and Corporate Colours. Each eyeshadow palette is accompanied by a stunning backstory and visual, which you might be able to guess at from their names. Syren sees Ffrench herself as an otherworldly mermaid. Think more along the lines of wild sea creature than Ariel:
Meanwhile, Corporate Colours—the brand’s ‘neutral’ eye shadow offering is accompanied by a short film that imagines the Medea Sisters taking a break from their work as handbag peddlers. Instead, the pair take a retro office tour, including getting ~intimate~ with a photocopier. The final eyeshadow compact, Sciomancer, features some hectic animated imagery and colours that pays homage to musician Yves Tumor. All of the eyeshadow-accompanying films were directed by Daniel Sannwald, who you might already recognise from some of his other unique visual work for vibey people.
All of the Byredo eyeshadow compacts invite you to put down your brushes and apply with fingertips: it really is meant to be a tactile, playful experience. Based on the campaign imagery, the formulations look pigmented and creamy, which makes sense given we know Byredo invites mixing products and colours.
The pair have explained how at its very core, storytelling and eliciting real emotions from people is the foundation of the Byredo makeup collection. No pun intended. From the thought, artistry and collaboration that went into everything from ideation to package design—Ffrench worked on the line holistically—it’s evident this is something special. These aren’t products to be bought, swatched for IG and forgotten amongst a bloated makeup collection. They feel like art that’s inviting you to make art. (And makeup.)
“I don’t want to tell people how to wear the cosmetics, just to inspire them,” explained Ffrench. Consider us refreshed and inspired.
Byredo Makeup has launched and is avaliable to peruse on their website here. As of writing, there’s no word yet on an Australian stockist, but as Mecca has carried the Byredo fragrance line for a while we’ll be keeping our eyes locked on their website.
The Byredo Makeup Collection
Byredo Eyeshadow 5 colours, availiable in Corporate Colours, Syren and Sciomancer colourways.
Byredo Lipstick, avaliable in 16 shades.
Byredo Eyeliner in Technical Black.
Byredo Mascara in Space Black.
Byredo Colour Stick, avaliable in 16 shades.