How This Makeup Artist Made '80s Makeup Cool

Morgane Martini talks wild makeup, Ashley Graham, and Marc Jacobs Beauty.
Reading time 4 minutes

“Everybody got so bored! Four years of nothing, seriously?” Morgane Martini, the France-born, New York-based makeup artist, is laughing at fashion’s sudden obsession with wild ’80s makeup. It’s a noticeable shift after years of bare skin, natural brows, and pressing your lips together for a subtle hint of blush — rather than using even something as basic as red lipstick. “I never stopped doing makeup. Everyone did, but not me — and they all told me what I was doing wasn’t cool,” she recalls. “But I asked, ‘What’s cool?’ I think what’s cool is to express yourself and have fun with it.”



Martini (her real name), however, has always done her own thing. As a child on the French island of Corsica, she loved to paint. Realizing this perhaps wasn't the wisest career move, her aunt suggested she paint faces instead — and so Martini ended up in beauty school. “Which I didn’t hate,” she laughs. “It was just that it was totally unhelpful.” Thankfully, rather than languishing, she quickly found work assisting the greats, like Lloyd Simmonds, and Pat McGrath, the latter of whom she did shows for six years. “I loved it,” she says of the fast-paced world of editorial and runway makeup. “The weird thing about me is that I can go on and on, but I never get tired. I get tired when I’m home and don’t do anything.

It was during one of those moments of downtime, about a year ago, that Martini first started snapping the Polaroids that populate her Instagram, which have propelled her into the spotlight. In macro detail, they chronicle the looks she’s created for friends (who also just happen to be models), including Lais Ribeiro, Constance Jablonski, and Mélodie Monrose. “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.” Industry types quickly took notice. They could see Martini’s obsession with Guy Bourdin and illustrator Antonio Lopez from her bold lines and out-there color choices. And then, one day, Ashley Graham requested that they work together, in what has become one of Martini’s most creative and enduring relationships. “She lets me do whatever I want,” she exclaims. Graham has evidently had quite the effect on her. “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.”

"If we’re not the trendsetters, then who are? If we’re not the creative voice, then who is?"

Embracing her most outré, Helmut Newton–esque self has worked wonders for Martini. Shortly after she began working with Graham, she got the opportunity to do Bella Hadid’s makeup for a triumvirate of covers in her customary style for Vogue Brazil. “I mean, the reference was Veruschka, so now we’re talking, this is my jam. And perfect timing: It was a September cover.” As well as igniting Instagram, the covers caught the attention of Marc Jacobs, who swiftly signed her as Global Ambassador of Artistry, a charmingly grand title for the self-deprecating Martini.

“When I had my meeting with them, I said, ‘You should know one thing about me: I love to put a ton of makeup on and if you ask me to do less, it’ll be hard.’” Luckily for Martini, that was exactly why they had called on her. “They said, ‘No, if you do less, we’ll have a problem.’ So I thought, OK, I think we’re going to get on,” she says, now beside herself with laughter.  She gathers herself momentarily, suddenly serious about her big role. “If we’re not the trendsetters, then who are? If we’re not the creative voice, then who is? Being cool isn’t about judging people, it’s about commitment to your work.” Truly, thank God for Morgane Martini’s commitment to bringing a full face of makeup into the future. 



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