You may recognise many of the images in this book, Validated: The Makeup of Val Garland, published by Laurence King, without having realised that the same creative hand is behind them. Possibly because it’s only relatively recently that the behind the scenes teams – the photographers, stylists, make-up artists, hairstylists, nail artists and others who are responsible for fashion images, have become known and celebrated for their work.
The talent whose work is explored here is Val Garland, who has been quietly but emphatically doing what she does with make-up (and sometimes with a potato – you’ll have to buy the book to find out!) to challenge our perceptions of beauty.
The book is not just a visual celebration of her work, but an insight into the creative process and above all, revelatory of the collaborative nature between today’s fashion image makers.
What is different about this book is that Val’s co-creators are lauded and given a voice – designers John Galliano, Vivienne Westwood, Gareth Pugh; photographers Nick Knight, Solve Sundsbo, Tim Walker and Mario Testino; stylists Edward Enniful, Katy England; models Kate Moss, Erin O’Connor, Karen Elson, Keira Knightley; hair stylists Sam McKnight and Malcolm Edwards; nail artists Marian Newman. There’s even a huge list of make-up artists on the back pages that she credits, possibly a first in a namesake book but ultimate proof of Val’s generosity.
What’s clear is that Val’s approach is to find her aesthetic balance by creating something then destroying it in some way: making it real, tangible, touchable, challenging, outrageous but always beautiful and arresting. With this masterful sleight of hand, her work is a welcome antidote to the heightened level of selfie perfection that has become the pervasive currency of modern beauty.