Isamaya Ffrench

Creative Audacity: Isamaya Ffrench’s Unconventional Take on Beauty

Show Notes


British makeup artist Isamaya Ffrench has been challenging our perceptions of beauty and creativity for the past decade. She attributes her unconventional approach to beauty, one that escapes commonality and mainstream aesthetics and paves the way for bold innovation, to her family’s background in engineering and problem-solving. Spurred by a face painting side hustle, her nontraditional rise in the industry saw her take on pivotal creative roles—such as brand ambassador, creative director, and global beauty director—for luxury brands, such as Tom Ford, YSL, Christian Louboutin, Burberry Beauty, Byredo, and today, beauty curator for Off White. In 2022, she launched her makeup brand, ISAMAYA, an evolving line of progressive beauty products entrenched in the zeitgeist. In this episode, Isamaya shares with Christopher Michael her perspectives on cultivating creative audacity and innovation in beauty. Some may consider her work subversive, yet she sees it as contextual and impulse-driven—LIPS, the brand’s penis-shaped lipstick, was influenced by conversations around gender and sexuality. What’s contemporary now? Isamaya believes it’s time for people to acknowledge and accept that having a different opinion, preference, or approach is okay. “Just leave people alone and let them get on with their lives.”

Episode Highlights
  • Creative audacity: Isamaya attributes her creative edge and audacity to her upbringing—having grown up in a family of engineers and creatives.
  • Penis-shaped lipstick: Isamaya is often driven by impulse; she’s very receptive to what’s happening around her, so it’s no surprise the discussions around gender, nudity, and sexuality have indirectly influenced her work. However, more than anything, LIPS was a logical decision.
  • Global beauty director: Is it challenging working for brands? “It’s about having different experiences,” Isamaya says. Although she values the creative freedom of having her own brand, she enjoys the collaborative aspect and various parameters of working with other brands.
  • Side hustle: She worked her way up from face painting to semiprofessional body painting to makeup artistry.
  • Product design: Isamaya describes her love/hate relationship with product design and how it is a part of her path to success.
  • Favorite clients? Junya Watanabe and Tom Brown—to name a few. Isamaya looks for a strong sense of self and a willingness to push creative boundaries when partnering with designers or brands; to find new territory while maintaining a concise brand aesthetic and philosophy.
  • Advice: “If you’re passionate about something and you want to do it, do it. You only live once!”
  • What’s next? Collaborations, new makeup collections, and a documentary about global beauty aesthetics and ideals.
  • What’s contemporary now? “Just leave people alone and let them get on with their lives.”
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