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In conversation with beauty guru & free spirit @leitalienne

In conversation with beauty guru & free spirit @leitalienne

In a world where there are Instagram filters that lift your cheekbones, plump your lips and enlarge your eyes and the rate of plastic surgery operations that make you selfie-perfect is constantly increasing (+15% since 2018!), it is only liberating when we see somebody that, out of the herd, looks natural and genuine.

One of these people is Marika Zaramella, make-up artist, skincare enthusiast and curator of the two Instagram profiles @leitalienne and @corpoconsapevole.

She’s not that type of person to ask ‘how can I do a fast smokey eye?’ to. And it’s definitely not because she lacks technique: she’s completely self-taught, but she’s precise and firm as anybody who studied make-up for years. It’s because her way of showing and communicating beauty goes further than only beauty tips and hacks. With Marika is more important to discuss what lies underneath. Make-up is fun and it makes us feel beautiful, sure, but it shouldn’t be something we feel naked without or we hide behind: Marika, with her playful authenticity and her way of appearing effortlessly cool but also totally relatable, reminds us this concept with her every post.

And there’s freedom in this.

shirt REAMEREI, jacket & trousers NOT SAFE FOR HUMANS, boots VIC MATIÉ, belt Vintage

Let’s start this interview with first times. When was your first time in the make-up/skincare universe?

I was very young. I remember being obsessed by my mother’s creams and foundations and at times I would secretly put them on. The first time ever I used foundation — I remember it clearly — it was Max Factor Lasting Performance: my mum used it for centuries, not the same tube, of course, first of all because she’s always been very careful about not keeping a product after the suggested expiration date, but also because it wouldn’t last more than a couple of months with me around the house.

That first time I was around ten years old, it was an afternoon like many others after school; my cousin and I sneaked in the bathroom while our mums were chatting in front of a coffee. I remember spreading the foundation all over the face as if it was a cream, first on mine and then on my cousin’s, wondering, with my fingers still smeared, if our mums would notice. As soon as we went back to the living room with absolute nonchalance, my mum asked me: ‘Are you wearing make-up?’ We had never seen our skin so flawless and, since that time, my mum used to promise to let me wear it on Saturday nights whenever I got good grades at school.

To many people make-up is mostly considered as a corrective instrument, in order to hide or disguise flaws. You, on the contrary, made of self-acceptance one of the pillars of your way of communicating. How do you integrate these two aspects?

I finally accepted my skin the way it is and I like using light foundations that make it glow without an excessive coverage. I often have some imperfections, but now I peacefully live with them and I prefer them to be visible in a natural way more than hiding them under a thick layer of concealer. Mostly because the pimple would be visible anyway!

right – shirt REAMEREI, necklace Sharra Pagano, socks Camper, shoes VIC MATIÉ

On the same subject, I would like to ask you about @corpoconsapevole, your second Instagram profile that is basically a burst of body positivity towards yourself. What originated this idea? Was there a reason why you chose to separate the contents of this profile from @leitalienne?

First of all, I separated them for a professional reason: I didn’t know how my audience would have reacted to this project, that is different from my usual contents, nor if the brands I collaborate with would have judged me as unbecoming for posting my body on social media. Another reason was that I wanted @corpoconsapevole to have its own relevance by pushing myself to be constant in this project.

During the years, I have always shot many pictures of my body and its changes and, looking back at them in 2018, I had this incredible feeling of a better knowledge of myself, and that feeling kept growing as I kept collecting pictures. I thought it could be interesting to show myself in a vulnerable and filterless way, with my body exactly the way it is. For what it represents and what I wouldn’t want it to represent. My project doesn’t have the presumption of carrying any kind of feminist message: it’s simply a way of communicating myself, my moods, my story. My body is a temple. And @corpoconsapevole is constantly changing, exactly like me.

Today, how far do you think you got on the path towards self-acceptance? What helps you? And, on the contrary, what are the obstacles?

I feel that we constantly overlook the concept of unicity: everything feels like a competition and this definitely doesn’t help in accepting ourselves. We need to do more, to say more, to be more. All the time. But this is unhealthy and I think that self-acceptance starts from this: from the ratio between self-esteem and the ability of avoid self-blaming. Accepting yourself requires long and hard emotional work; I am not quite there yet, but I am working on it, and @corpoconsapevole is the journal of this travel.

As a stylist, for me it’s very different the process of choosing my outfits or doing it for or on somebody else. Applying make-up on other people is different than putting it on your face?

As far as I am concerned, there is a huge difference: when I put make-up on my face, I already have in mind a style, an intent, a defined identity that I perfectly know. For me it’s hard to explore outside my comfort zone when it comes to my face. On other people it’s different, because you’re free to highlight something, discover new details or small asymmetries of that person’s face. It’s like getting to know somebody, getting acquainted: you add something, you take something away. You look for balance, you transform. To me that’s extremely stimulating.

left – sweather REAMEREI, trousers Marco Rambaldi

What do you find beautiful? What inspires you? What captures your imagination?

I think there’s something beautiful in everything and, if it feels like there’s not, you probably need to have a better look. I literally draw inspiration from whatever and whomever: I am not much of a talker and I really love observing. What I find the most stimulating is observing people and try to decipher what is going on between them, the untold, the gestures, what lies under the surface. I try to guess what kind of people they are, what makes them passionate. I could totally get lost in these thoughts.

Behind the work of every professional, including those with a huge talent, there are always a lot of studying and a lot of research. I think we tend to forget this aspect in front of the final product, that maybe looks effortless. How does your research process work? What advice would you give to somebody who’s trying to face this process and find his method?

My research process is ceaseless and, as I was saying, it can touch any aspect of life. Nothing is to be excluded from creative fields and everything can be a source of inspiration. I know this says all and nothing, but it’s too personal as a process to give suggestion. My recommendation is to study hard, then the research will follow.

How did your work change during the pandemic? Which challenges did you have to face?

Before Covid, I used to spend all my days on photographic sets putting make-up on models, it was exciting and exhausting at the same time. Nonetheless I felt very fulfilled, as I was starting to get also bigger jobs. During the pandemic these opportunities were left in stand-by: I started working less and less on the set, first of all because I live in Padova and moving across regions three or four times a week had become complicated. Secondly I am literally incapable of spending eight hours on the set wearing the mask and the visor without feeling sick, as I am very anxious and claustrophobic.

Giving up on these jobs made me feel bored and frustrated, even if I never stopped smart-working as a talent scout for Espressoh and creating social media contents. To sum up, my job has definitely grown from a digital point of view, which forced me to work by myself without all those daily inputs that nurture my creativity.

left – dress MARYLING, bustier VÌEN, boots VIC MATIÉ
right – shirt Antonio Marras

What are your favorite beauty websites or Instagram profiles?

My favorite website about health and skin is Into the gloss, while for beauty contents I read Chemist Confessions and Mixed make-up.

Talking about dreams: a brand or a magazine you would love to collaborate with?

There are tons! I really can’t choose. Perhaps Dazed Beauty.

A few months ago on Instagram, you had talked about an occasion where somebody, without really knowing you and inappropriately, had judged the way you looked; you invited your followers to share similar episodes that had happened to them, in order to show how this kind of hurtful comments happens quite often. What kind of community do you hope to gather around @leitalienne or what kind of message do you hope to spread with your work?

I have never had any presumption or precise intent, but I think I managed to create a judgement-free space where topics like acne (that no, it’s not true that is caused by eating chocolate) are normalized and accepted, simply because I show myself exactly the way I am. By showing myself without filters and ‘reporting’ verbal abuse that happen to all of us, I hope that people will feel less judged. This kind of verbal abuse is usually carried out by family member or friends, who are so used to it that they don’t understand how painful or rude that is. My goal is to create a community of people with the same passions, who share information and advice. And, to me, this is powerful.

photography Ilaria Taschini
fashion styling Giulia Revolo
hair styling Gabriele Marozzi
talent & make up Marika Zaramella
photo assistant Veronica Brunoni
style assistant Mario Cattaldi
words & interview by Francesca Martorelli