HUNGER DISCOVERS… Francesca Brazzo

As part of our new VERO series spotlighting fearless creative talent, makeup artist extraordinaire Francesca Brazzo has been debuting a beauty story exploring gender fluidity.

For the past two weeks makeup artist Francesca Brazzo — whose work has been published by the likes of W Magazine, Vogue, Elle and L’Officiel  — has been debuting an exclusive gender fluid beauty story for our VERO followers, opening up about her creative past and entry into the world of editorial and creative beauty. 

Below, she talks taking inspiration from Edward Scissorhands, her first creative experiments and where she learnt her signature perfectionism. Head to VERO for more…

Have you always been creative? 

I’ve always had a creative side, which I get from my mother, and luckily as a child that was nurtured. I was always painting and making things and even performing in home movies. I remember making jewellery out of melted crisp packets and sculptures out of bread dough that we would put in the oven and glaze. We would create in very unconventional ways and I think that freedom to experiment at such a young age has been carried with me until this day.


Talk us through your journey into becoming a makeup artist?

At the age of 12 I knew I wanted to be a makeup artist. I’m not sure where this idea had come from as it was before social media and before when professions like this were common knowledge. My mother has always had immaculate makeup and to this day will still wear a full eye shadow look and winged eyeliner, every day. She would spend an hour in the morning on her make-up and I used to watch transfixed. At 13 I went to an evening course at my local beauty college in bridal makeup. I was the youngest there by ten years and it was my first time doing makeup on other people and I loved every moment of it, but I knew there was so much more to makeup than that. 

I did my work experience at the iconic Charles Fox makeup store in Covent Garden and it was there that my eyes were opened to the world of creative makeup. When I left school, I went on to study theatrical makeup, special effects, and body painting and did a short private course focusing on fashion and editorial make-up. It was here where I learnt the art of perfection. Our teacher wasn’t pulling any punches and would pick apart every bit of the makeup look that wasn’t perfect. It resulted in a lot of tears from the the other students but I relished the challenge. One day, he came over to check my finished makeup look and didn’t say a word, just nodded in approval and moved on — I was absolutely elated. I went on to assist some amazing makeup artists and slowly built my own clientele.


What’s one beauty item that you can’t live without?

Eyelash curlers.


What’s your advice to young creatives who want to break into the beauty industry?

Assist, assist, assist. You will learn so much from the established artist, not only make-up skills, but how to conduct yourself on set and how to prep for the shoot. It’s also a great way to meet other creatives who are also assisting so you can test together and build up your portfolio.

What’s the future of beauty?

I hope the future of beauty is less about perceived perfection and more about feeling comfortable in your skin and expressing your individuality. Less about covering up and more about showing off. With knowledge readily available and skincare tech becoming more accessible for the consumer at home, I think we will all be our own beauty expert.


Where’s your favourite place in London for gathering inspiration?

The street! I love walking around London and people-watching. Brick Lane used to be such a huge source of inspiration and a hub of creativity. It was an area of misfits and creatives whether it was a Tuesday morning or a crazy club night at the weekend, people turned out looks. Creative pockets in London are constantly moving and evolving and places like Dalston, Portabello, Camden and Peckham have always had interesting and inspiring characters.


Where’s the best place in London to get beauty products? 

For my kit I love places like Guru Emporium, Charles Fox and Tilt Makeup as they have such an array of products for creative makeup but I also love Space NK for luxury-led beauty.


What’s a song that gets you in the MUA mood?

I wouldn’t say there are specific songs that get me in the makeup mood but I certainly play music that corresponds with the makeup I’m planning to do as it not only helps inspire me but also gets the model in the right mood and character for the shoot.


What’s a film that inspires your practice?

A lot of the 1970s and 1980s fantasy movies really inspire me. It was a time when special effects were all done in shot and with makeup or animatronics and I was forever fascinated and inspired watching them. Beetlejuice, Labyrinth, The Lost Boys, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Edward Scissorhands [are some of my favourites] to name a few.

The creative industry is known for its tricky work/life balance. How do you practice self-care in what can be a hectic industry?

They say “do a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” and I really believe that. I think as a freelancer it can be hard to say no to jobs that come your way but you have to constantly ask yourself, “is this project right for me?” Is the aesthetic in line with your aesthetics or will it lead to further work? Time is precious and a day off is sometimes better spent than working on something that doesn’t benefit you. On days when I’m not shooting, I wake up early and give myself a few hours of admin in the morning and then enjoy the rest of the day. I love practicing yoga, so making time for that is a great way for me to look after my body and mind and helps me to keep a healthy perspective on a work/life balance.


Tell us a book that helps you escape working stress ?

The Power of Now by Ekchart Tolle is a great tool for me to help battle with freelancer anxiety.


What advice would you give your younger self?

Confidence is everything. Have conviction in your ideas. How you present an idea is sometimes more important than the idea itself.


In your time in the beauty industry, what have been some of the biggest changes to the industry?

Social media has brought about a huge change in how we digest information  On a consumer level, information and imagery is readily available in a few swipes and at a professional level it’s much easier to reach a larger crowd and connect with people through socials than it ever used to be. It used to be all about getting your work in print in a high-end magazine but now it can be just as effective for work to be published in an online platform. It has also opened up a huge source of inspirational imagery.

What’s one beauty trend that you hope never comes back?

I think there is a time and place for all beauty trends if done well. If you feel confident in a certain style of makeup then let that work for you. Saying that, there are a few makeup trends right now that I hope fade out. Heavy foundation and contouring, face tapes and caterpillar brows are a few looks I’d like to see less of. Let your natural beauty shine through!


Proudest moment of your career so far?

Getting my first cover for Vogue.


What was on your moodboard for this VERO beauty story?

Lots of colour and playful imagery. Ultimately my mood boards are usually less about makeup and more about the feel I want to come across for the shoot.


What’s next for you?

In the midst of a pandemic I’ve found it hard to make plans and goals for my career but I’m really excited for things to come. Historically, during hard times, creativity flourishes and I’ve found everyone I work with is itching to create experimental and exciting imagery. I’m working on a lot of personal projects at the moment and have made lots of new connections so I’m excited to see where that leads.


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16 July 2021