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Yvonne Gold: Queen of the Instagram Triptych

From dinners with Guy Bourdin to yonic regrams: the renowned ex-make-up artist and conceptual consultant reveals the stories and sources behind her triptychs

“This is so awkward; it’s like a blind date!” exclaims Yvonne Gold as soon as she picks up the phone. “And I never even did social media before – Instagram woke me up to cyberspace!” She’s not the only one; there’s a curious phenomenon that has been occurring ever since Instagram achieved its status as fashion’s social medium of choice – industry stalwarts have started opening up their banks of visual references and sharing their archives with the world. “It’s like fashion’s versions of family snaps,” she laughs, “and you get to see how people’s minds work, what their obsessions are.” 

She’s right; an industry that is often built on the private, long-standing relationships between its creative pioneers has, in a way, opened itself up. People are openly regramming and following each other like never before, revealing the references and moodboards that were previously closely-guarded secrets. There’s Yvonne Gold and Camille Bidault-Waddington, Judy Blame and Katy England, Alister Mackie and Benjamin Kirchhoff: each of them with fabulously-curated banks of imagery, both their own and others. “Images become rootless and re-cropped, credits are removed and they lose context, be it contemporary or historic,” says Gold. Camille Bidault-Waddington explains, “I also like to crop into other people’s images; it shows my thoughts.” Everyone’s approach is slightly different, but seemingly equally considered: a centimeter spliced off the side of a picture can refigure its proportions; a print zine recontextualised for digital can give it new meaning; images in a triptych (as Gold’s prefers) can draw bizarrely parallels to each other.

Gold made her name back in the eighties, when her work as the resident make-up artist for Vivienne Westwood’s first eight shows and collaborations with Helmut Newton, Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Piaggi catapulted her to renown – now, her comparatively recent arrival on Instagram is revealing the triptychs that inform her work. “My only criteria are that it has to do with makeup, beauty or the body,” she explains, but her selections are far more diverse that that might sound, encompassing all sorts of (sometimes unnerving) images that always deserve a second look. “I don’t necessarily think that what I post is beautiful, but is it someone’s concept of beauty, and that reflects diversity and another dimension, which I love.” Here, she reveals the thoughts behind her process...

NO DUMMY, I SEE but NOT LOOKING, eternal emerald envy eyes
“Mixing art and fashion with beauty, you can’t beat Bourdin. His pictures are timeless, remember having dinner with in Paris with him, Karl Lagerfeld, Vern Lambert and Anna Piaggi who taught me so much, her Fashion Algebra was so Instagram. Think I had the Kari-Ann Muller Adel Rootstein mannequin shot from when I designed punk make up for them.”

BEFORE, DURING and AFTER, marking the similarities not the differences
“Two regrams and an Irving Penn from American Vogue, back from when I consulted on the Beauty in Vogue book. Red lips, exotic and erotic, really rouged from being bitten and kissed.”

STICK, SKETCH and SMUDGE, things are not as they seem
“All regrams. I could happily do an entire shades of skin Insta, but force myself to venture out. Love the ‘removed’ eyes making eyes, the drawing on a real face, and the reversed, out of focus doubled ‘1 PERSON’ was kinda funny.”

INSIDE OUT, IN BETWEEN and OUTSIDE IN, pictures speak louder than words
“I thought Suzanna Scott’s insulation sculpture was so clever and so did 1,766 other people, it got the most likes I’d ever had at that point. Plus the colours were so beautiful, also in her unmade teat piece. Artist Meltem Isik’s image was from a whole series he did playing with the perception of body image, always a favourite subject of mine.”

FACE OFF, FACE TO FACE, just FACE IT, making a mirage of faces
“All regrams, found flipping around when I’m on the move. Again, I love them not being what they seem, embroidery looking like a painting, fake shadow play and a brilliant Burning Man floating face.”