Amelia’s Magazine | Alex Box: Ugly Beautiful

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© Photography Rankin, Make Up Alex Box

Make-up is all too often considered to be merely a technique used to enhance natural attributes: from the day to day beauty-conscious girl on the street, or for flawless skin under stage spot lights. It is all about the pretty.


© Photography Rankin, Make Up Alex Box

Not, however, for Alex Box, make-up and artist extraordinaire currently exhibiting a collaboration of images created with the photographer Rankin at the Annroy Gallery in Kentish Town. Testing and subverting the traditional conception of beauty and make-up, Box’s work is known for leading the pack in experimental beauty. Having played with performance and sculpture at Chelsea, and worked at i.D, Dazed & Confused, Another Magazine and V, her CV reads like a fashion leader to watch (with self-pronounced comparisons to Gareth Pugh). Launching a book (The Make-Up Artist) to coincide with the collection, Box’s star is most certainly on the rise.


© Photography Rankin, Make Up Alex Box

The photography displayed in the show capture strange, haunted but eerily beautiful images of women. Through featuring alien-esque, exotic creatures, the collection interrogates our ideas of “normal” and “pretty”.

Make-up focuses heavily on full-painted faces, big bad sky scraping lashes and outlined lips. With black and white geishas sitting alongside faces spray-painted kaleidoscopic colours and golden sprayed hues, Box’s work questions what is beautiful.

The works ask what is traditionally accepted as pretty, whilst showing harrowing images of those mortals who are over-sunned, under-fed and suffering from a range of general diseases. These photographs question man’s mortality through the skeleton theme and joker lips evocative of Heath Ledger’s eponymous role.

This is a serious show; you can see the influence of her young Goth days in the mask-like quality of the make-up; that idea of putting on a face that represents an entire frame of mind or mood.

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© Photography Rankin, Make Up Alex Box

To counteract the seriousness, the show includes positive images of weird and wonderfully strange beauty; celebrating the foreign, the unique and the variety of types of beautiful. Aside from the obvious geisha references and plays on colour, there were alien creatures straight out of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory or a Tim Burton film.

With paisley printed blue and pink cheeks extending around the eyes, and delicate golden dotted freckles painted underneath batting lashes, these girls were pretty like something out of Japanese anime. One face was disco-punk-neon-rave, with a crazy combo of bright and vivid shades splashed like a spirograph across the face.

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© Photography Rankin, Make Up Alex Box

Box stated in an interview with Katie Shillingford that the accompanying exhibition book is a diary of beauty, reflecting different moods and day to day inspirations; the contrasting images of bright young things bordering on the cute with darker, sombre creatures perfectly captures the idea of a personal storyboard.

Box’s take on make-up and beauty is thoroughly refreshing and ultimately extremely important at the moment. Refusing to fit into the mould of a typical make-up artist, she combines her own art background with her current field of work, painting faces instead of improving them through ‘tricks’ of make-up. In a world dominated by debates surrounding beauty, the fashion industry, model sizes, skin bleaching, photo editing and advertising ploys, Box’s work refuses to pinpoint what beauty is, but instead highlights the many forms it may take.

The Exhibition finishes on the 22 November and is located at the following address:

Annroy Gallery
110-114 Grafton Street
Kentish Town,
London, NW5 4BA
United Kingdom

The book is available from Turnaround and at all good book stores

Categories ,Alex Box, ,Annroy Gallery, ,Another Magazine, ,Dazed and Confused, ,Gareth Pugh, ,goth, ,ID, ,Katie Shillingford, ,Make-up, ,Pat McGrath, ,Rankin

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with fashion designer Masha Ma

Masha Ma, discount AW 2011, illustrated by Holly Exley

Womenswear label Masha Ma, described as “semi-couture”, features fabulously chic and powerful silhouettes with a contemporary yet elegant feel. The stunning structural tailoring is shown beautifully through dramatic styling and inspirational photography.  

Masha completed her MA in Womenswear at Central Saint Martins in 2008, where her collection was selected to be shown at London Fashion Week and went on to be bought by B Store. She then went on to win the ‘Mouse Ji Best International Innovation’ Award at 2009′s China Contemporary Design Contest. 

This year she will also be presenting her collection at the Palais du Louvre during Paris Fashion Week in October. And with publications such as Vogue, Elle, Pop, Harper’s Bazaar, AnOther Magazine, Cosmopolitan, L’Officiel and even French Playboy featuring the label it seems well on it’s way to global success. 
I caught up with Masha during her busy schedule… 

Images from Masha Ma AW 2010/11, Resort, courtesy of Masha Ma

I love your latest collection, there are some stunning silhouettes and the styling and photography is beautiful! What was your inspiration?  
The collection was inspired by Nancy Sinatra’s song, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. The garments had prints with bullets on them and safety pins as embellishments all in combination with soft feminine fabrics.  

How would you describe your design principles to anyone who wasn’t familiar with your work?  
Chic, modern arrogance, semi-couture with designs that are bold yet intricate and focus on the unraveling of the female form.  

You must be excited for your London Fashion Week debut as well as your up coming collection presentation at the Louvre. How has the preparation been?  
It is an incredibly exciting time now and even though it has been so busy, my team and myself are having a great time working towards it.  

What shows are you looking forward to seeing at London Fashion Week?
We’re so busy with our own show, I don’t think I will have time to see any other shows.  

Is music important in your studio? What’s been on the stereo recently?  
Our studio has a very eclectic sound coming out of it; with so many different people working together we have all sorts of different music playing all the time. From Lady Gaga to Nouvelle Vague and Rachmaninov, we’ve got all areas covered.  

Masha Ma, SS 2010, Illustrated by Aniela Murphy

What advice would you give to anyone with the dream of pursuing a career in fashion?  
Stay focused, work hard and don’t forget to have fun. 

Are there any blogs you read religiously? Or any you find interesting or inspiring?  
I try to read as many blogs as possible; it is such an amazing new media you just can’t ignore. It would be hard to pick a favourite but I have been reading Amelia’s magazine for quite a while! 

And finally, what’s your next goal?   
Right now all the focus lies in creating the new SS11 collection. I guess my immediate goal would be, successfully getting through our London Fashion Week show and our trip to Paris. 

Categories ,Aniela Murphy, ,Another Magazine, ,b Store, ,Central Saint Martins, ,China Contemporary Design Contest, ,Cosmopolitan, ,couture, ,Elle, ,Harper’s Bazaar, ,Holly Exley, ,Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, ,L’Officiel, ,Lady Gaga, ,London Fashion Week, ,ma, ,Masha Ma, ,Nancy Sinatra, ,Nouvelle Vague, ,Palais du Louvre, ,paris, ,Paris Fashion Week, ,photography, ,Playboy, ,pop, ,Rachmaninov, ,vogue, ,Womenswear

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