There are layers in the meaning of the word “artist.” These are important because the difference between being skillful at your craft and possessing this AND an expansive vision for its possibilities is what separates talent from true artistry. The latter describes Fraukje Van De Wiele aka Frances Folies. An artist can be anyone from a painter to a pastry chef; Fraukje’s work as a makeup and hair artist displays the traits that make her an internationally recognized leader in her field. Print and the exponentially increasing digital formats which exhibit the world’s many interpretations of style & fashion have given this Belgian born talent the opportunity to expand the many “beauty dialects” of our time. From celebrity models, to fashion influencers, and everyday people, Frances Folies has become an important part of the evolving discussion of what defines beauty. More importantly to her, it’s a way of presenting the strength and importance of women today.
Every artist is part historian. As they say, “You must know the rules to break them.” Francisco Valencia’s Elegant magazine (the online version of which is Mith Magazine) featured Frances’s work with Belgian photographer Babeth Albrecht in the photo essay titled “Pink Inception.” Albrecht’s minimalist approach found a counterpoint in Folies lively yet sparse use of color. Frances remarks, “Nature is a major inspiration to me. Though I lean towards the dramatic, the beauty in small things can be quite impactful. Flower petals, landscapes; these things can go unnoticed until something focuses your gaze on them. This is when you take notice of the majesty of nature. It’s peaceful and powerful.” “Pink Inception” displays the spectrum of Folies work as she exercises subtle restraint yet still manages to infuse Albrecht’s framing with flourishes of chromaticity.
Folies finds her true north in looks that are the inverse of self-conscious, at least in regards to a visual demeanor. Women are not a monolith. There is no single accepted definition of what makes a woman feminine or attractive; nor should there be. Frances holds the contention that a woman is perhaps most powerful when her look is strikingly feminine. As she states, “It’s important to celebrate femininity in all forms. I love the over the top Glitter & Kitsch of Burlesque. I always tend to create something dreamy, girly, glamourous, and pretty; however, I also like to clash and contract in styles. I’ve been drawn to it since my youth. It’s about claiming who you are. I can love Hip Hop just as much as 50’s Jive; beauty and personal expression should not be any different.” Vetting Folies acclaim in this approach, model Gia Genevieve specifically requested Frances as her makeup artist on the photoshoots which created Gia’s 2018 pin-up calendar. Known for gracing the covers of major publication like Galore Magazine and Playboy (in which she was also featured), starring in music videos like “Now That You’re Gone” by Grammy-Award winning band The Raconteurs, and a massive Instagram following, Genevieve has come to define this retro approach to modern beauty. Photographed at the iconic Madonna Inn, the photos are a benchmark for Vintage glamour style in the 2010s.
The strength of a true artist is in their vision and its relevancy, rather than attaching themselves eternally to one form. Displaying her versatility, Folies recently worked on a photo shoot for the French photo art publication Normal Magazine. US photographer Paul Zhen enlisted Frances for the project which took place directly across from the Louvre in Paris. Surrounded by the original 19th century décor, four models (@CharlineMuse, @alexandrazimny, @tanyachubko, @chloejasmincjw- British- X factor finalist UK 2014) appear in garb inspired by the era of Marie Antoinette. Reminiscent of a period that coveted class and formality above all, Frances recreation of the look somehow infuses a modern attitude with this classic look. The delicate nature of combining such contrasting ideals in a cohesive manner is not to be understated or under appreciated. The stunning handmade period inspired dresses featured in the photos were created by the famous @Ritual_official. This re-einvisioning of historical style between Zhen, Frances, and @Ritual_official features the drama of late 1700’s France with the titillating color of present day. Even in this traditional setting, Frances has found collaborators who are empowered by her exciting presentation.
While it isn’t the most discussed component of an artist’s personality, responsibility is one found in the greats. Frances has no misconceptions that her work as a makeup artist supersedes the importance of the commerce taking place in a majority of the industry. Even makeup can’t compete with specialized filters and the kind of pressure placed on women to reach an impossible standard of beauty. To offset this, Frances reveals, “That’s why I offer from several times a year professional photoshoots in collab with a female photographer who has the same goal to prove to everyday women that they also can be as glamorous as professional models. After this type of photo session, the female clients go home with lots of confidence and feel good about themselves. This is part of why I love my job so much. Not only do I want to create visual magic but, I also love to give everyone a good feeling about themselves. It feels great to make them happy and see that sparkle in their eyes when they look in the mirror at themselves when hair-and make-up is done. That is truly the biggest satisfaction of my job, that feeling of enjoying beauty in all its shapes and forms.”
(All photos courtesy of Lesley Hoste)