Last night I went into the Illamasqua makeup Master Class thinking that a bit of teal eyeliner is very bold and statement-making, and came out thinking that yes, perhaps blue metallic brows could work at the office.
Illamasqua–“makeup for your alter ego”– is a two-year-old UK cosmetics company with roots in the theater and alternative lifestyles. What this translates to in the collection is bold color, makeup that bucks any sort of trend, and an exhortation to express yourself.
The line is exclusively at Sephora stores and on its own website. This February the new Colour Collision collection will launch. The brand held a demonstration last night at the Soho Grand to introduce its potential.
Illamasqua spokesperson/makeup artist Alex Box, a charismatic Brit with scarlet lips, cat eye glasses, and a Cruella de Vil platinum stripe in her hair, led the class last night. She has worked for Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, McQ, Peter Jensen, and Gareth Pugh. Her work has also been featured in Vogue Italy, France, and Japan, and in other mags like W, i-D, and Another. Her demonstration was absolutely fascinating and she made a compelling argument for self-expression and breaking the conventional beauty mold.
As she was turning a fresh-faced 17-year-old model into a walking piece of art, Alex spoke about Illamasqua’s philosophy. The brand wants its products to be considered “boundary-less.” Originally they didn’t even want to print what the individual products were for (ie eye shadow), but they ran into some regulatory problems so they ultimately had to.
She demonstrated how the Liquid Metal, in a blazing metallic blue, could be used in the hair, brows, eyes, lips, or body. There is also a brilliant product called Sealing Gel, which you can mix with any of their powders to get an intense paste that will dry quickly and won’t move.
While the brand encourages individuality, there’s still plenty that can be used for everyday. We were sent home with a lovely neutral moss eye powder, black powder liner, and a perfect coral brush. The brand’s blue toned red lipstick (named “Box” after Alex) looks incredible in the black lacquer-like tube.
In the course of the hour-long presentation, Alex dismissed the notion of bold eye/neutral lips (and its inverse), any sort of “formula” for makeup application, and shows like What Not To Wear. One of the brand’s business partners, a man dressed in quite a proper suit, told us that he occasionally wears the makeup (think Liquid Metal on one eye) and claimed, “Guys are frightened but girls love it. So there you go. It’s a good way of talking to girls.” Indeed.
Illamasqua supports the Sophie Foundation, which was started after 20-year-old Sophie Lancaster was beaten to death because she was dressed like a goth. There’s a black eyeliner dedicated to her, and all the proceeds from its sale go to the foundation. Go here to watch the haunting video of her story, complete with music by Portishead.
I totally drank the Kool-Aid. While I may not be using face stencils anytime soon, I can live by these wise words from Alex: “It’s not a sin to be high maintenance.”
(Click to see the slide show of the model’s transformation, face stencil included.)