Behind the Antwerp Six there is an additional, intrinsic yet unnumbered, figure. Make up artist Inge Grognard has worked closely with the iconic Belgian designers since their student days at the Antwerp Academy. She has known Martin Margiela since she was 14 years old and wept backstage as he took his final bow for the Maison. She has transformed the faces of countless models with deft, unnerving touches of her brush, from Raf Simons’ cult nineties shows to Walter Van Beirendonck just last season. Grognard subverts preconceived notions of beauty, eschewing products for paint, using bare skin as an artist would use negative space. Here she offers her interpretation of the outsider, a transformation of colour and light.
“Outsider art is art that isn’t institutionalized. I discovered Miroslav Tichy a couple of years ago. He made amazing pictures, but he was thrown out of society. He was a peeping tom, taking pictures of women with a camera he had made. When you’re talking about outsider art, he is the one for me. The Antwerp Six were considered outsiders in the beginning because there was no reference point for their work; there was no one you could compare to. They did something that didn’t exist.”
THE OUTSIDER MANIFESTO
“People want to put you in a box. For a long time I was always doing red lips and no mascara. So I became ‘the girl of the red lips’. Skin is important, and that’s the problem I have with re-touching, people become plastic dolls – though that is interesting too. I wanted to use bodies and faces as a white canvas, and I always push it in that direction. Something always stays naked on the face, not covered in product. I will always be a little bit underground. Trends don’t interest me. For me, that is not make up. Make up is working with the person in front of you; working with interesting people.”
THE TRANSFORMATION PROCESS
“For this shoot I was thinking about gangs, except the transformation is quite alien, with the unsettling clear skin as a defining feature. It is a kind of stamp; with my make up there is always a stamp. It’s my signature. They gave me two words, ‘outsider and spring/summer’: what did I want to express? Spring/summer brought me to light, and the colour circle, mixing to make white light. And the alien is an outsider, of course. Did I think about a certain gang? No, this is a new gang.”