Over the past few years, the artist Formerly Known As Twigs has had a stealthy and steady descent to the position of modern day alternative icon in the world of music and fashion. Her dreamy yet industrial trip-hop-esque music is as hard to define as her individual style, which seems to draw from hip hop, punk, and tribal elements all at once. Her unique look has already filtered into the highest realms of the mainstream, “inspiring” the likes of Katy Perry and Givenchy, and she could perhaps single handedly be held responsible for the current street trend of girls rocking adorable, delicate septum piercings.
Her makeup artist, Camden native Naoko Scintu, has worked with Twigs since the very beginnings of the current incarnation of her music career. She took the time to chat to us about the experience of working with such an innovative artist, and just how they create those dreamy looks together!
Hey Naoko! So, how did your working relationship with Twigs come about?
We met at a friend’s dinner party! I’d met her a couple of times already, but we sat down next to each other and just started talking… About squeezing spots weirdly enough! *laughs* We talked non-stop about skin, we’re both quite obsessive about that kind of thing. We just kind of realised that we had quite a lot of things in common, we were even born on the same day. She’s just such a cool girl and I really vibed with her. I didn’t even initially think “Oh yeah, let’s do something together” but our friend Karen (Clarkson, stylist) was just like “why don’t we do a shoot?”
It was over a year ago now, before she did her first major performance, we did a press shoot with Dominick Sheldon who’s an amazing photographer and we just all really clicked. And then the pictures went worldwide, they were on the front cover of The Guardian, they were everywhere. Such beautiful pictures. And Dominick has that lighting that really shows the skin off as being really gorgeous and dewy. Twigs and I have the same understanding of that kind of skin that she likes.
Her skin is always so beautiful! So would you say she very much knows what she likes in that sense? Obviously she’s known for directing her own videos and being very involved in her creative process, would you say the makeup is collaboration?
She definitely knows what she wants, she’s amazing in that sense and that’s one of the reasons I really love working with her. It’s not the same each time, it’s approached more like a fashion shoot. She’s bubbling over with ideas all the time, massively creative, she’s in control of everything but in such a brilliant way, such an artistic way that it’s just really inspiring. The way she likes things is how I like them too, in terms of makeup, for instance the skin looking really real and dewy, so we’re always on the same page with that part. And then with different makeup looks we always approach it as a fashion shoot, even if it’s not, even if it’s a video. She’ll say “this is what I want, this is how we’re going to have it”, and then I might say “well why don’t we try this” and we’ll just kind of vibe off each other. But she definitely knows what she wants, which is great.
Are there any particular references that you’ve used recently that have stood out that you could maybe tell us about?
Willi Ninja (legendary Vogue dancer from the New York scene). For a shoot that’s just come out, the Juergen Teller shoot we did, with 032C magazine. That was really cool. Karen called me up one evening and said it was going to be based on Willi Ninja, which was quite a different look for Twigs, a boyish kind of shoot. Makeup-wise we had the clean skin, adding all those bits of shine and the glossy eyelids, but not too much… to still have those highlights but keep them natural. Then we always like to add some freckles to her, she already has a few so we like to add a few more. And then obviously that top lip liner, because Willy Ninja had that really thin moustache, so we discussed how we could do that. Are we going to have it above the lip? Are we going to have it below? So all of us collaborated and decided how it was going to work best. It just came out really recently and I think she looks amazing.
It is an awesome shoot! Do you have a favourite look that you’ve created together? Or a career highlight of you working with her perhaps?
Definitely the career highlight was shooting the V cover with Inez and Vinoodh in New York, that was just incredible. And one of my favourite looks was when she performed at the opening of the Alexander McQueen exhibition at the V&A. She wore that unbelievable Birds of Paradise McQueen dress, and I just loved that look. She had her statement red lip but I was like “Come on, lets use eyelashes, let’s use more!” At first she wasn’t sure but in the end it just looked amazing, it didn’t look too much and I loved how she looked, I was just so excited!
1. NeoStrata Bio-Hydrating Cream – £29.99 . . . NeoStrata are based on really looking after and repairing the skin. The guys who developed the brand were the first to make these pharmaceutical type creams, they really help the skin from the inside out.
2. Laura Mercier Foundation Primer Radiance – £29 . . . We always use this, it’s so nice! So you already have that luminosity on the skin from the very beginning.
3. MAC Cream Colour Base – £15.50 . . . For highlighting the cheeks I’m obsessed with Hush. I also love Bamboo as a shade as well, I’m always using four or five different Cream Colour Bases.
4. Jurlique Rose Silk Finishing Powder – £26 . . . Just the best powder in the world. I use a little under the eyes and around the nose, we really try to keep powder to a minimum but this is so thin and translucent. Also it’s so nourishing and repairing for the skin, and has no crap in it!
5. Chanel Illusion D’Ombre Longwear Luminous Eyeshadow – £25 . . . Such an important product for me with Twigs. A shadow that’s not a powder and it’s not a cream, they’re that kind of foam texture but so amazing. The shade I loved has been discontinued, it was a limited edition, but I love the brown/black shades.
So what other projects have you been working on recently?
Well I love working with Elle magazine, recently Kai Z Feng came over from New York for a couple of days and we shot a few stories for three days for Elle which was great. I also did a really nice shoot for Vogue recently in Portugal.
And how about with Twigs, what’s been going on with the two of you?
We just shot the artwork for her new album, so that’s in the pipeline. And couple of months ago we did four videos in a week! We shot three over two days and then we did Glass & Patron which was a 24 hour video in the forest, so that was really exciting. I don’t normally like doing music videos, but when it’s with her it’s just so brilliant. I look at her as a fashion icon as well as a music icon. She’s just a whole inspirational package.
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Featured Image by Dominick Sheldon
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