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Blood Orange Benzo
courtesy of Instagram/@marcelogutierrez

Evanie Frausto and Marcelo Gutierrez talk beauty for Blood Orange’s Benzo

We speak to the hair and make-up team, Evanie Frausto and Marcelo Gutierrez, behind the Dev Hynes directed, Marie Antoinette-themed extravaganza

This week, Blood Orange aka Dev Hynes released the music video for latest single ‘Benzo.’ An opulent offering directed by Hynes, ‘Benzo’ sees the musician lounging in a rococo setting alongside a coiffed and powdered cast including Ian Isiah. Serving Marie Antoinette realness in an array of towering pastel-hued wigs, lavish gowns and faces adorned with pearls and diamantes, the gender non-conforming cast cavorts, perform, make-out and eat grapes. 

Heading up the scene-stealing beauty looks were wig genius Evanie Frausto and boundary-pushing make-up artist Marcelo Gutierrez who Hynes enlisted to help create extravagant characters that transcend time and gender. “I wanted it to feel like a reference from the past that had a dystopian element, like this collective or cult of people that lived in this strange house or mansion outside of history,” says Frausto.

We spoke to the two to find out more about the exquisite looks. 

What was the concept behind the beauty for this video? 
Evanie Frausto: Dev approached me with creating an 18th-century renaissance world but making it more modern by using colourful hair to adorn the wigs. Period people in a contemporary fashion world. We also, really importantly wanted it to feel genderless. 

Marcelo Gutierrez: The visuals for the video largely took inspiration from the exaggerated extravagance we largely associate with Marie Antoinette and her court. What made this project so special was Dev’s interest in reworking that archetype with an incredible ensemble of black artists including Ian Isiah, who also did the casting. 

What sort of references or inspiration were you pulling from?
Evanie Frausto: I went back to referencing period hair – I wanted to try and stay true to it while adding my own twist. I was mainly looking at 18th-century sketches and paintings. There were a couple of images that dissected the hair, showing the overall shape of the women in that period and zooming in on curl details while stressing the overall height and volume of the hair. Then I mixed in a kind of club-kid/rave culture aesthetic to make it feel more modern.

Marcelo Gutierrez: We discussed references like Marie Antionette along with Nirvana, No Doubt and an array of moods from the 90s and 60s. The focus for me was really about colour, elements of club and psychedelics along with playful touches of ballroom camp. 

Tell us about the final looks you created. What story is the beauty telling?
Evanie Frausto: I wanted it to feel like a reference from the past that had a dystopian element, like this collective or cult of people that lived in this strange house or mansion outside of history. I wanted it to feel like the various characters were involved in each other. Also this past/future element of the hair helped to make the character's genderless - I tried to remove distinct differences between the men and women's hair. Hair that is non-historical and non-gendered is trying to abandon restrictions and embrace a kind of fluidity. I also brought in a lot more colour than we and Dev had originally talked about to make it a bit different and modern, put a twist on it. 

Marcelo Gutierrez: What I loved most about the final beauty looks was the obvious and beautiful way they tackled the perception of gender, class and beauty. All those constructs really go out the window for me in this piece.

Did the characters have specific stories and personalities that you based looks around?
Evanie Frausto: Not so much – it was more a story of the collective, the cult, the group. There was a blurring between the individuals that helped create the genderless feel. I didn't even have a specific wig for Dev. They were literally made equally. Picking them for each character was really down to on the day just seeing what went with what outfit and which model or performer. I had originally made a dark red one for Dev but in the end, I swapped it for something more colourful to bring him into the Benzo world. 

Marcelo Gutierrez: Each look was tailor-made for every character. I focused mainly on colour palette, texture and design to prep. Every character played a specific role so when I drew sketches out I kept in mind each narrative and the individuals face. 

How closely did you work with each other on pairing up the hair and make-up looks?
Evanie Frausto: Marcelo and I work closely together ALL the time and on many many shoots – so we're really on the same page without having to communicate too much. We're great friends and have lots of experience together - so we play off each other very instinctually.

Marcelo Gutierrez: Both of us really excel when spontaneity comes into the equation. Day of the shoot we briefed each other on directions we were taking and then went from there. We’ve developed a close relationship enough so that I always trust our decisions will work well together.