5 minutes with Burberry's Global Beauty Director Isamaya Ffrench
There's a good chance you've heard of Isamaya Ffrench. Her Instagram feed is a cult-favourite, showcasing her eccentric approach to makeup and beauty, with quirky self-portraits and impressive spreads alike on show. But it isn't just her knack for social media that has made her a major name on the scene, though—her progressive, yet tasteful eye for all things beauty has landed her some high-profile jobs with international brands.
Over the course of her career so far, she has served as a creative consultant for Tom Ford Beauty, an ambassador for YSL Beauty, the global makeup ambassador for Louboutin Beauté, and has worked backstage for the runways of Iris Van Herpen and Louis Vuitton. Impressive portfolio considered, it's no surprise that she has recently been appointed the Global Creative Director of Burberry Beauty.
Naturally, we were itching to learn more about Ffrench behind the lens and get some insight into her plans for her new gig at Burberry Beauty. Ahead, our exclusive interview with the dexterous artist and creative director:
You have an impressive background in luxury beauty–what initially drew you towards the beauty industry?
“Makeup was never a thought of mine. I wanted to go into performing arts, but I grew up in Cambridge and at 18, I moved to London to specialize in 3D design at Chelsea College of Arts and ended up going on to study Product and Industrial Design at Central Saint Martins.
“After joining a theatre company I began working as a makeup artist for shows and creative editorial projects, where I began to use makeup more and more... That was back in 2010... The rest is a blur!”
What does the Burberry brand mean to you and how are you going to translate this into the future of Burberry Beauty?
“I love Burberry's modern, edgy vibe. It's become an incredibly sexy, contemporary brand and I love that there is a duality of chic—simplicity and maximalism—that balance each other. It manages to fall on the cusp of edgy and chic perfectly—and I would like to do that with the beauty side of Burberry.
“I've always admired Riccardo—even before his time at Burberry—and his creative point of view, so to be guided by someone like that feels very exciting.”
You’re partial to subverting beauty conventions, whether through makeup, illustration or digital abstraction. Will we be seeing this in your future work with Burberry?
“I don't think it's always necessary to subvert or shock! It's about understanding your audience and what you're trying to communicate.
“I want to inspire and seduce; to make women feel empowered, confident and good about themselves, and makeup can absolutely help do that. Burberry is for everyone and I want to work on products that perform and make you feel good.”
How is your approach to Burberry Beauty going to be different from your past projects?
“Every brand is different so it's about understanding the brand's philosophy and working towards that—whether it's with products, communication, or education around the makeup. Burberry is definitely future-oriented and modern.
“For the upcoming projects with Burberry, you'll have to wait and see! I'm under lock and key...”
Who is the ‘Burberry girl’ to you? As in, who do you envision when designing campaigns?
“I work closely with the team who do the casting, so I really follow their ideas of the Burberry girl as much as my own. She is definitely confident, fun, sexy, and intelligent.”
What is it like to work within the beauty industry in the midst of the pandemic? What challenges have you faced?
“With the pandemic, I have not been on stage so much lately. Instead, I've spent a lot of time doing research and working behind the scenes more. It is also a good time to take a step back, take some time for ourselves, and not do anything.”
How have you stayed creative?
“I just do whatever feels right. Creativity comes when it comes, and I try not to force it too much.”
What do you think the future of the beauty industry is going to look like across the whole?
“In 10 years or 100 years? Who knows...”
Isamaya Ffrench's debut campaign for Burberry Beauty will arrive in Autumn 2020—watch this space for updates. For more beauty insights, click here.