Gothic and grand, or moody and messy—the smoky eye gets a grunge twist.
Written ByJACK SUNNUCKS
Photography ByMORGANE MARTINI
Makeup ByMORGANE MARTINI
Art Direction ByVICEN AKINA
With her experimental take on color and the exquisite Polaroids she snaps to document her work, Morgane Martini is the makeup artist of the moment. From her collaborations with Ashley Graham to her cover of Vogue Brazil with Bella Hadid, Martini’s name (it’s her real one) is becoming synonymous with a new kind of French chic that recalls the revolutionary work of Guy Bourdin and Helmut Newton rather than a less-is-more aesthetic. In a new series for VIOLET GREY, she channels the famed ‘70s illustrator Antonio Lopez by documenting an array of free-spirited looks on her friends, accompanied by her trusted Polaroid camera.
“Melodie and I actually hang out, she’s a real, real friend,” laughs Morgane Martini of Mélodie Monrose, the model from Martinique. “I’ve known her forever, and probably done her makeup a million times. I never go crazy on Mélodie – usually when I do her makeup, I make her look gorgeous and simple. So for this, I wanted to do something I haven’t done before!”
In this case, trying something new meant revisiting something old: grunge, the ‘90s cultural movement that favored a heavily ringed, kohl-smudged eye. “I wanted it to be a bit bitchy looking,” she says in her inimitable French accent, “like a little tough!” This meant mixing shades of black, gray, and taupe to channel the ultimate ‘90s cool girl, Winona Ryder, and taking Martini’s usual precise handiwork into new, messier territories. Says Martini, “The inspiration was ‘90s, but I didn’t want it to be obvious—I wanted to do my own version.”
LOOK 1—SHADES OF GRAY
“Usually, we do a red lip or make her look glamorous. And I really didn’t want to go there again—I wanted to experiment a little bit more. So, the first look doesn’t even have mascara. It’s really just the eyeshadows, in taupe and gray tones. And then a brown lip, which is neutral yet still cool and grunge-y.” – M.M.
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LOOK 2—THE WINONA FOREVER
“The inspiration was a picture of Winona Ryder where she had this messed-up, smoky eye. I added gloss to it because I thought it should look even more wild. I then applied black pencil in a really imprecise way. I put a lot on the bottom. And then, just with the brush, I smudged it a little—but not too much, because I didn’t want it to look perfect. And then I added the Hourglass lip oil to make it look super shiny and glossy.” – M.M.
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LOOK 3—THE TWO-TONE LIP
“The third look was just this simple, two-tone lip. A beige in the center, and a burgundy, almost black on the outer corners. The inspiration was ‘90s, but I didn’t want it to be obvious, I wanted to do my version. We went and bought a gel that made her hair look shiny. In the end it looked [how] I wanted it to: like she’d had a really fabulous night out.”
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Surratt Beauty $35
Charlotte Tilbury $32
Name: Morgane Martini
Where to Find Her: New York City
Represented by: The Wall Group/BEL
“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.”
Martini has taken Graham’s words to heart, and perhaps bolstered by her belief in what makes her work unique, she did the makeup for her first Vogue cover, Bella Hadid for Vogue Brazil. “In some ways, I think I tried for a while to fit in,” she opines. “At a certain point, makeup was not a cool thing to do, because people just wanted natural. I tried to fit into that box. But I kept telling my agent, I’m getting so bored.” She smiles. “I just can’t. It’s a great lesson, to just do you. And I think everybody should do that.”
Joanna Vargas $75
Eau Thermale Avène $14