A Social Beauty in the Insta World


Mide is wearing shirt dress by Nabil Nayal, choker by Carven, and earrings are model’s own

Social media, specifically Instagram, has provided an outlet for many of those on the fringe and it’s global outreach has pushed the visual need for diversity and individual personalities to the forefront. Makeup artist Pep Gay who has a critical perspective on transformative beauty, grew up as a youth regarding magazines as the ultimate place to exhibit a creative’s work and where the top faces ran rampant throughout the biggest books. “Supermodels of the 90’s represented the aspirations of that decade,” the artist recalls. “They were more dream than reality, since they only lived in the glossy pages of the magazines and on catwalks.” The tides turned when rather than dreaming up the perfect model, castings started looking to reality and the street to determine who is fit to “model”. Gay’s own mindset on beauty and the influence of social media culture resulted in an original editorial for Models.com shot by photographer Bex Day where street-casted and quirky beauties embody the power of transformation. The makeup artist gives his explanation on the imaginative concept, how Instagram can be one more tool in a photo shoot, and his understanding of dynamic beauty.


Text by Pep Gay

Intro by Irene Ojo-Felix


Photography – Bex Day for Models.com
Make-up and Art Direction – Pep Gay
Styling – Tara St Hill
Hair – Teiji Utsumi
Casting Director – Chloe Rosolek
Models
Scarlett at Nevs (London)
Genevive at Flair Model Management
Lily Oakes at IMG London
Mide at Storm Management (London)
Danni at ANTI Management (New York)
Ranny (Street casted)
Vi (Street casted)


Danni is wearing jacket by Loewe, tie by Mint Vintage, and shirt and earrings are model’s own

The ever-evolving wheel of fashion saw how social media was brought to the forefront, leading to an endless and massive influx of information and changing the map of fashion forever.

We are entering a more democratic fashion world where not only the elite but also the average consumer can reign and have a voice too.

This is a more popular and less fanciful fashion era, where social media has become a resource, a tool to share the latest trends, making everything more immediate and accessible, but also short-lived. We are entering a more democratic fashion world where not only the elite but also the average consumer can reign and have a voice too.


Scarlett is wearing jacket and scarf by Rockins, chain, boa, and bracelets are stylist’s own

Beauty evolves hand in hand with fashion, always guiding trends as the faithful accomplice. With social media, traditional and well-established brands are being challenged, bringing new business and strategies, shaking the industry in different ways forever.

Walking through the duty free shops of an airport one feels that beauty campaigns and beauty images look not much different than they did 20 years ago. The faces are different, but has the imagery changed that much?

When it comes to beauty photography, sometimes I wonder if it has evolved as fast as fashion photography. Walking through the duty free shops of an airport one feels that beauty campaigns and beauty images look not much different than they did 20 years ago. The faces are different, but has the imagery changed that much?


Ranny is wearing hoodie by Wayward London and chain by The Great Frog

The challenge for all of us involved in the beauty industry is to discover how to push forward, not only trends, but also the concept of beauty itself and to create new images, considering how we want viewers to perceive them.

I like images that tell me a narrative, a story about the person pictured.

When I first started researching concepts and ideas for this shoot, I was drawn to portraiture photography. I like images that tell me a narrative, a story about the person pictured. Not only the light, but a setting or pose too can tell you what’s going on in a portrait. Clothing, hair and make-up also help reveal the character within the image and who they are.


Vi is wearing stole by Simone Rocha, top by Marieyat, bangle by Gillian Horsup at Modes and More, bracelet (as necklace) – Osman, star print shoelace from stylist’s archive, and earrings are model’s own

I envisioned a beauty story that reflected how people present themselves to society through make-up, showing that make-up communicates individuality. Not only how society perceives us from the outside but also that once one takes control of their looks you can show your very sense of self. I also wanted viewers to try to figure out who these people would be if they were to exist in real life; as if we had discovered them walking in any big city and we just happened to snap their portrait on the street.

I envisioned a beauty story that reflected how people present themselves to society through make-up, showing that make- up communicates individuality. Not only how society perceives us from the outside but also that once one takes control of their looks you can show your very sense of self.

To help us achieve the ‘realness’ that we needed to make our ‘characters’ more believable the option to mix real models and street casting was an obvious choice. Our casting director Chloe Rosolek and stylist Tara St Hill kept showing me all these different people they had found through Instagram. I then realized my narrative was taking shape by way of and application within our phones and that with social media as a casting engine, it’s not hard to imagine that a different type of beauty campaign can be achieved. Looking back to when I started, seeing now how Instagram can be one more tool in a photo shoot, you know that you are definitely on a threshold of a new fashion era.


Genevieve is wearing jacket by Molly Goddard, dress by Simone Rocha, earrings by Gillian Horsup at Modes and More and scarf is stylist’s own

Looking back to when I started, seeing now how Instagram can be one more tool in a photo shoot, you know that you are definitely on a threshold of a new fashion era.


Lily Oakes is wearing a trench coat by Gareth Pugh, top by Marta Jakubowski, earrings by Gillian Horsup at Modes and More, and ring is model’s own

Photo Assistant – Hilda Raina | Stylist assistant – Rukiah Zakaria | Make-up assistants – Rebecca Davenport & Dan Delgado Ortiz. Retouching – Beatrice Parnaud at Winterland.

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