Inide Nivarro: Meet Oman's most talented artist
March 29, 2017 | 5:19 PM
by Salim Al Afifi
Photo courtesy of Indie Nivarro

“Superwoman”— that was the first word that popped into my mind when I met all-in-one artist Indie Nivarro, a Newcastle-born Oman resident who has mastered the art of makeup, hairstyling, and fabric stitching over the last 10 years. In the Sultanate, we have a whole lot of artsy folks who are true masters in their respective fields; some can be found perfecting their skills using makeup brushes, others can be found in salons using their inspiration to create unique hairdos, and, of course, there are all kinds of fashion designers stitching, cutting, and tailoring their craft. But, unlike many of the fashion artists in Oman, Indie had a dream to be in charge of every aspect of styling her living art pieces. So, she learned and perfected all three.

Indie Nivarro with a model.

With a head full of dreams and ideas, Indie is always experimenting with new materials and using inventive techniques to bring a simple, or complex, concept to life in the most beautiful way. More impressive still is the way she executes her sometimes wild ideas in a way that appears effortless. Growing up, Indie’s brother, an artist himself, was her first inspirational figure and role model. Though his creativity may have emboldened her, she always had her own unique way of looking at things. “I think I always knew I was a bit different and saw things differently. I have always had quite an alternative outlook on life,” said the artist. “I have a crazy imagination and I like all things strange and out of the ordinary.” At the age of 17, Indie landed her first job as a Henna artist in a salon. It was at this time that she decided to devote her full attention to the arts by studying theatre, television, and film makeup techniques. Mentored by the one and only Val Garland, who’s known for his work with Kate Moss and Lady Gaga, she learned not only to express her creative vision, but to do so to the highest standard. When Indie moved to Muscat with her husband, she began to fully explore her creative interests, putting to test her skills while embarking on a new adventure

Photo courtesy of Indie Nivarro

Indie now is a one-woman creative operation, envisioning concepts, storyboarding, designing costumes, and even making her own props for photo shoots. “I like to have control of every aspect of the final image. I’m telling a story and you can’t do that with just makeup alone, it’s the character and entire image as a whole,” she explained. “I’m a perfectionist, and when I have a vision in my head, translating that vision into the final shot is extremely important, so it’s imperative that every detail is executed to a high standard.” Indie has a mad-kind-of-love with macabre, taking inspiration from pop culture horror staples like A Nightmare on Elm Street , while her greatest fashion inspiration is the off-beat work of the late Alexander McQueen. She brings these inspirations together in her photographic Halloween project. Her unusual skill set and vision is at the heart of her brand, Twisted Skins FX, which has gained a lot of attention in Muscat, with many local photographers and brands approaching her to collaborate on projects. These collaborations have brought her together with many top names in the industry, including magazines such as I-D Magazine, Dazed & Confused, and Garage, and fashion brands like Vivienne Westwood, Nars, Matthew Williamson, Emanuel Ungaro, and Topshop to name a few. Indie is living “the dream” with her glamorous and creative life, but more importantly, she is living-out her creative vision. As a masterful makeup artist, she could have enjoyed great success in that field alone, but by following her passion farther into the reaches of what could be possible, she has found her path to a deeply fulfilling artistic career. With a mind like hers, one can only try to imagine the beautiful twists and turns yet to come for this rising star. —[email protected]


Ancient Times

According to archaeologists, evidence of the use of cosmetics have been found in ruins dating back hundreds of thousands of years. Some of the most interesting finds come from ancient Egypt, where Egyptian men and women took hygiene very seriously. They are believed to have taken advantage of natural resources, like thyme, sesame oil, rose, lily, peppermint, rosemary, myrrh, olive oil, frankincense, cardamom, cinnamon, and almond, which were used to make perfumes. They also had cream-based cosmetics, made with animal fat and castor oil. Colourful minerals were crushed into powder and then mixed with oils to make a sticky paste for easy application on the face. These minerals, including copper, ochre, ash, and burnt almonds, were also used to create a dark powdery product called kohl, which was mixed into a paste and applied to the eyes using a stick to create an almond-shaped. Their favourite colours were black and green, and thus were used most often to beautify their eyelashes, eyelids, and eyebrows. Far from skin-deep, all this pampering was usually reserved for religious rituals and as a mean of social classification. To this day, Egyptian makeup is considered to be trend-setting throughout the Middle East.

Pre-Modern Era

In the 1st Century AD, the Egyptian civilisation started using henna to adorn their nails and dye their hair as it became trendy for both men and women to alter their hair colour. Animal fat and ash was used to achieve a dark, black tone; animal fat with beech wood ash was employed for a blond colour; and a mixture of rose oil and cypress imparted a red hue. In 1400s, Chinese and Japanese cultures idolised women with pale skin, which lead to numerous whitening techniques, most common of which was the application of rice powder for a brighter skin tone. The most renowned of the beauty dynasties had to be the Tang Dynasty, whose practices included shaving eyebrows and replacing them with drawings of shapes, and the painting of heart-shaped lips. In Elizabethan England, women put egg whites on their faces for a glazed appearance during the Elizabethan period. The queen was one of the first to embrace a transformed look using makeup. By the 1800s, beauty was becoming dangerous in the West, as women began using toxic Mercury to achieve a brighter skin tone, a practice which sometimes lead to death.

20th Century

Most of the exciting and popular things that we know of now started happening in the 20th and 21st centuries, as makeup became decidedly mainstream. Mabel mascara was introduced as the very first commercial mascara, invented and named after the sister of its creator, T. L. Williams, who used a clever technique of mixing petroleum jelly and carbon soot to make the substance. This mascara is known today as Maybelline. A ton of revolutionary tools came to existence as well, including the first pressed powder in 1923, which included a mirror and puff for touch-ups; liquid nail polish in 1907; Maurice Levy’s metal lipstick housings in 1915, and commercial eyelash curlers, which hit the market in 1931. By the mid-1900s, mascara brushes were replaced by wands in tubes, Cover Girl cosmetic brand launched, and special beauty products targeting African Americans were introduced in the USA.

And Beyond

In early 21st Century, men’s makeup started to trend, with items such as man-scaras and guy-liners becoming must-have items for those into beauty and fashion. Stage makeup also advanced, eradicating all memory of crude Shakespearean pancake makeup, with truly transformative special effects achieved by professionals who were newly named “makeup artists”.

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