Instrumental in the Belgian anarchist anti-fashion movement of the 1980’s, Inge Grognard was the make-up artist who helped bring Belgium’s first generation of design talent to the fore. Challenging beauty ideals to this day, Inge talks selfies, obsessions and her book ‘Make Up’.
Interview MAXINE LEONARD
It’s hard to believe that before 1986, Belgium had no fashion industry to speak of. When Walter van Beirendonck, Ann Demeulemeester, Dries van Noten, Dirk Bikkembergs, Dirk van Saene and Marina Yee rented a truck to deliver their collections to London Fashion Week, their anarchist vision changed everything. Undoubtedly key to getting across their message were the Belgian creative duo Ronald Stoops and Inge Grognard. Working closely with this first generation of Belgian design talent, aka the Antwerp Six, Stoops took control of the lens, while Grognard provided the make-up.
The pair later went on to work with the second generation of Belgian designers, including the likes of Raf Simons, Veronique Branquinho, A.F. Vandevorst and Jurgi Persoons. They have also contributed to ‘Visionaire’, ‘I-D’, ‘View on Colour’ and ‘Purple’, among others. In 2010, documenting thirty years of creative collaboration, the revered duo launched an anthology of their non-commercial work titled ‘Inge Grognard Ronald Stoops’.
Beauty Papers: You started your career in the mid-eighties. Was this the beginning of your collaborative relationship with photographer Ronald Stoops?
Inge Grognard: I actually started out a little bit earlier with the partner of Ann Demeulemeester: Patrick Robyn.
BP: Together you published the book ‘Make Up’, an edition of five hundred. How long did this process take and what was the drive to publish a book?
IG: I think it took a year, and the drive was to go really international.
BP: You have notoriously challenged the idea of beauty, and particularly this can be seen at the shows where you have worked with designers such as Martin Margiela, Ann Demeulemeester and Raf Simons. Have you found that the arena of the shows has changed and that the language of beauty still challenges? Has commerce had an effect on the freedom of expression at the shows?
IG: Ann Demeulemeester: I did only all the pictures before she started doing shows. And then I went on to work with the others of the Antwerp Six and Martin Margiela. After that it was Raf Simons for many years, and then AF Vandevorst, Bernard Wilhelm, and later Branquinho etc.
BP: Do you think editorial has a social responsibility?
IG: I don’t know if it has a responsibility, but it represents what is going on around us at that moment.
BP: Both you and Ronald are long-standing contributors to Beauty Papers. On our latest issue themed The Vanities you were the subject in the photographs. Can you tell us more about the story and the idea behind the imagery?
IG: It’s a story about ageing and selfies, hiding or not.
BP: Do you believe vanity is a positive expression of the self?
IG: I don’t have anything against selfies ;)
BP: What drives you?
BP: What are your beauty obsessions?
BP: How do you continue to challenge yourself creatively?
IG: I try to have a good balance between my private life and work. Brainstorming with inspiring people is important, and ensuring that I am not easily satisfied.
BP: What’s next?
IG: I have some shoots coming up, and a road trip with a friend.