Beauty enthusiast or not, chances are you’ve found yourself down the rabbit hole of make up tutorial videos at least once. And the options today extend beyond your everyday-friendly make up looks. From elaborate unicorn-inspired face beats to full-body contouring, the Internet has only paved the way increasingly for the wild, the wacky and the downright wonderful.
Enter Ines Alpha – aka Ines Marzat – the Parisian artist and digital make up pioneer who’s taking things further. To the uninitiated, Alpha’s 92.6K follower-strong Instagram account (@ines.alpha) is a fascinating collection of portraits – self or of her fans, friends and a few Gen Z mega celebrities – donning three-dimensional, futuristic-looking face masks guaranteed to bring out the selfie queen in everyone. More than creating sophisticated Instagram filters though, the former advertising art director can be said to have helped launch a whole new beauty genre/technique.
For one, she describes herself a “3D makeup creator” or “e-makeup artist”. Using as her main tools not actual makeup, but 3D programming software, she dreams up the likes of delicate, meandering virtual vines and iridescent face armours inspired by mythical creatures and other fictional characters – all interactive and limited only by her imagination. The likes of Charli XCX and Lizzo, digital avatar Lil Miquela and activist Munroe Bergdorf – all advocates of progressive beauty in their own right – have all adopted them for projects (or for fun), using Alpha’s filters to transform themselves into ethereal beings who push the boundaries of what’s considered beautiful – and what makeup can actually do.
Now the ever playful and progressive Bimba Y Lola is the next – and possibly first fashion house – to embrace Alpha’s ethereal and experimental work. The Spanish label – a steady supporter of emerging, often left field artists and creatives – has tapped the 3D make up artist for Fall Winter ’19. The result is a series of 6 videos and an accompanying Instagram filter linked to Bimba Y Lola’s #thisisHUMAN collection – a buzzy digital-led collaboration that’s geared things up for the brand’s e-commerce launch in Singapore.
Available for viewing on Bimba Y Lola’s e-commerce website, which was launched here in September and carries Bimba Y Lola’s full collection, the video features the unconventionally beautiful artist/model Soraya in a make-belief world where humans and digital beings live in harmony. All creatures in this tranquil, semi-aquatic realm sport or are made up of Alpha’s trademark slime-like face paint (she calls it “3D organic material”), including an infectiously upbeat digital “pet” and the filter – accessible via the link in bio of Alpha’s and Bimba Y Lola’s Instagram pages – lets one take on the same form.
To help celebrate the launch of this fun, out-of-the-box filter, we got a few of our own friends from the Singapore creative industry to have a go at it (watch the video above). Below, an exclusive interview with Alpha herself on her definition of humanity, imagination and alternative beauty.
You’ve been touted as one of the pioneers of digital make-up. What was the world of digital artistry like when you were starting out?
“I started experiencing with 3D while working as an art director in advertising, specialising in beauty and luxury. I realised I could create anything with my imagination and a lot of patience. My fascination for 3D, makeup and cosmetics grew bigger and bigger every day.”
There’s certainly a lot of trial and error involved in what you do. What was the first ever digital make up look you created?
“I thought one day of adding 3D elements to faces. And by some sort of happy accident, I started working on my vision of makeup from the future.”
You even create 3D nail art!
“Yes, it’s so much fun!”
You’ve also collaborated with mega makeup artists like Tiggy Thorn and Melovemealot. How do you work off one another (using different mediums) to ultimately achieve your vision?
“I’m inspired by many different things. Nature, science fiction, cyborgs, mermaids, contemporary art, creative makeups, drag queens, beauty photography… Everything that comes from our planet is surely a huge inspiration too. I’m obsessed by sea creatures and Nudibranchs.”
You’ve talked about the physical future of make-up and what it might look like. Do you think attitudes towards it being associated with vanity and insecurity might eventually change too?
“At present, my main body of work consists of the “3D makeup” series, where I push the boundaries of makeup, working on “digitalised” bodies, allowing for more freedom with the concepts of beauty. 3D softwares give me the chance to have total aesthetic freedom and give life to things that don’t and can’t exist. For me beauty is about having fun and expressing your inner personality. I want 3D makeup to give people more possibilities to express their beauty.”
An ongoing theme in your work seems to be the bringing together of the human and the fantastical. Tell us about this.
“The fashion of the future should be respectful towards nature and humans. CGI could be a way to consume less fast fashion and to reduce the production although it requires a lot of server hosts energy. I’m not sure that the carbon footprint on the world would be totally positive but I guess it could help!”
On that note, tell us a little about this filter you’ve created for Bimba Y Lola’s #thisishuman campaign.
“I wanted to create a near future where the world is digitalised and augmented. Every human there is genderless and rebooted from every stereotype, tag and label. They wake up completely naked, only covered by some weird organic 3D material that is some kind of new energy source.”
You’ve also created a “creature” that appears in the campaign videos you directed. It co-exists in an alternate reality where “digital beings and humans coexist in harmony”. How did this idea come to life?
“From this substance (3D organic material) a creature is born. It’s a new version from the first one, called Hyper-LX that I created with Panteros666 for a video clip we directed called ‘METEOCIEL’. It’s a pet from the future that takes care of humanity and helps it live in peace for eternity.”
As someone whose imagination plays such a big part in what you do, what does being “human” mean to you?
“The human being for me is a habitant of planet earth. The word humanity is from the latin ‘humanitas’ for human nature, kindness. Being human is about love and compassion, being creative and not being a machine.”