“I don’t recommend going to beauty school,” laughs Morgane Martini of her start in the industry. As a young woman growing up on the French island of Corsica, Martini has always been artistically inclined, so her aunt suggested she could put her talents to practical use and paint faces instead. “I had a lot of friends who were learning photography at the time, so we were all playing around and trying out stuff. I went to school for only three months, three months of learning the basics of beauty and fashion makeup—which was actually really terrible, because everything you’re learning you have to forget and start over again!”
Fortunately, she landed on the team of one of the greats – Lloyd Simmons, whom she assisted for three years, and who she credits with making her the precise and technical artist she is today (creativity is nothing if not backed up with expertise). He also introduced her to the incredible Pat McGrath, another makeup genius from whom she was lucky to learn. “So,” she laughs, “that was major.” From this beginning Martini began a journey upward through the editorial beauty world that four years ago brought her to New York. “And a year ago, that’s when I started doing my Polaroids,” she says of the landmarks that have defined her career.
If haven’t seen them, Martini’s Polaroids, which populate her Instagram, are a thing of beauty. As with just about any visual profession, she says, mock horrified, “People were telling me to do more selfies, to post more of myself—you know, post a bikini picture here and there. That’s not me; it didn’t feel genuine.” After she started shooting beauty tests on her friends using a macro Polaroid camera, she quickly became obsessed and starting posting the results on her feed. “There’s no post production whatsoever; it’s pretty raw,” she says of what drew her to the little photographs. “And I’m obsessed with Antonio Lopez. I just think his work is so amazing, and all his Polaroid work is really fun.”
Martini’s bold shapes and color choices, inspired by Guy Bourdin and Helmut Newton, have caught the attention of a certain bold female, the one and only Ashley Graham. “One day my agent called me and said Ashley Graham is requesting you. I was very lucky that her hairstylist at the time, who I had worked with, recommended me.” It seems to be the perfect match. “What’s fun with her,” says Martini, “is she’s in control, but she’s really open to letting go. She told me how she decided one day to embrace herself to the fullest, and not compromise—you know what, take it or leave it, this is what I am.”