Back in 2008, Mario Dedivanovic, Kim Kardashian's world-renowned makeup artist, nearly passed up his chance to work with the now-mega-famous star. "I almost said no because I had to work at Fox News that day," he told me in a recent interview about his career trajectory, which took him from Bronx kid to Sephora employee to Instagram sensation @makeupbymario. Fate — and Dedivanovic's incredible work ethic — intervened: He caved, took the job doing Kardashian's makeup for a magazine cover, where she fell in love with his work. The pair has remained incredibly loyal to one another ever since. Together, they've become some of the most recognizable names in the beauty industry, and outside it. When Kardashian launched KKW Beauty last year, it was only a matter of time before she released a Dedivanovic-dedicated collection.
But Dedivanovic and Kardashian, industry disruptors that they are, do nothing without intention. They worked for months to distill their decade-long relationship — and the literal hundreds of looks they've created together — into one streamlined, four-piece set. It will debut on April 5, the day that marks their 10-year anniversary.
What does one collection that can be used to create every beauty look Kardashian has worn over the last decade entail? There's a lip gloss in two shades — Super Nude, described in a release as a "pale, sheer nude with gold pearl" and Juicy, a "natural, sheer peach with subtle pink pearl" — which will retail for $18 a pop. A satin-finish lipstick, called Classic K (a "soft peach nude with beige"), will retail for $20. Finally, there's a 10-pan eye-shadow palette, featuring a mix of matte neutrals, glimmering metallics and a striking cobalt blue, which will go for $45. A bundle of all four pieces together will retail for $85.
I caught up with Dedivanovic ahead of the collection's official launch to find out what went into dreaming up the collaboration, the makeup tricks he's picked from Kardashian and which color he thinks is about to be a major beauty trend. Read on for the highlights.
I feel like we've been anticipating the KKW x Mario collaboration for so long. Tell me about it!
I'm so excited. It's an eye shadow palette; it's one lipstick that basically will go on any skin tone; it's like a classic Kim-and-Mario nude that works with any lip pencil. Over the past decade, we've always used a similar lipstick, but just changed up the lip pencils the whole time. So, this lipstick really blends with any lip pencil, anything from a super-natural nude pencil to the darkest brown or plum. It just blends beautifully with it.
How would you use it with a liner? Do you layer it or blend it?
Both. You can put the liner on first, then use the lipstick, then put liner over it again. And then the collection has two glosses, as well: a sheer, peach-y gloss, and a sheer, flesh-colored nude that has tiny gold flecks in it, which, again, works beautifully over any sort of lip color or pencil. We've always loved a more peach-y lip. The other gloss is a sheer, peach-y [shade] and it really goes over any type of lip color to add a little tiny bit of warmth.
Then there's also the eye palette.
The palette, I love so much. It has 10 shades in it; there are four matte shades and then six shimmer shades. Basically, with these shades, you can create any look that we've ever done over the past decade and just so many more. The matte shades are beautiful, everyday shades. There's one that has a little bit more of a red undertone that you can create beautiful smoky eyes with.
Then there's one shade that's really the most gorgeous blue that I created, because some of our famous looks over the past 10 years have been blue. I think this blue shade is going to be a huge trend this year. We did really fun campaign images with different looks.
Do you have a favorite product from the collection?
I don't know, it's like choosing a baby. I really do love all of them. It's not a massive collection; it's only four products. But if I had to choose one, I would say probably the eye-shadow palette because you can do so many things with it.
I know it was important to you that these items summed up your entire decade of working with Kim. How did you go about deciding what would make it into the collection?
For many, many months, I went through the vault of images of all of our work. There has been so much — there are so many that I even forgot about. What I did was I just re-created those colors, and some of them I perfected. With the lips, for example, I always had these lip palettes, and I'd dip my brush into a bunch of different [shades] and I would mix it on my hand to create this one color that she loved so much. What I did for the collab is I re-created that with all of the lipsticks and I finally made it into the one color that I'd been mixing for many years. Then the same thing with the glosses.
Because you two have been working together for so long, how have your tastes and your approaches to makeup evolved together in that time?
It's evolved quite a bit. Our makeup in the beginning was quite different. It was definitely heavier; the brows were thicker, the lashes were longer, the under-eye concealer was heavier. We definitely used a lot more blush back in the day. We kind of softened it up, especially recently in the past couple of years.
Now we're starting to pump it up again — I feel like we're getting more experimental with some color. You know, she's a glam girl, so I feel like whatever she does, she's always going to go back to that glam makeup and that's also the makeup I love to do so much. There was a moment where she did super-, super-long lashes, and then we stopped doing that. But there are some things that remain consistent: the certain colors on the lip, on the eyes and contour.
What makeup tips or tricks have you picked up from Kim over the years?
Always highlight the inner corner of eyes with a light shimmer shade to open them and brighten the eyes. I always do this on Kim. And she always has to curl her own eyelashes, even when I'm doing her makeup.
Looking back over the last 10 years, do you have a single favorite look you created with her?
There are a couple of them that really pop in my mind — for both of us, actually. There was this one in Miami that we did and so we actually named one of the shades after Miami. It was the most beautiful, kind of doll-like [look], with a soft, peach-y lip and that really smoky eye with a bronze-y shimmer inside of the eye. It was, I think, in 2010. That's one of our favorites, for sure.
And then also, for her wedding to Kanye West. Sadly there's no full-color images of that makeup that are public, because she never released them. But it was just the most beautiful kind of Kim-K.-makeup. I remember everyone that day being like, "Oh my God, we've never seen her look so beautiful."
What did working on this collaboration mean to you?
I'm just super-excited about it all. I can't believe it's been 10 years. It feels like it was yesterday. It launches on the exact day of our tenth anniversary, which is April 5. I never imagined that any of what has happened in our careers would happen. To celebrate it in this way is really special for me.
Click through the gallery below to see the full KKW x Mario product lineup, which launches on KKWBeauty.com on April 5 at 12 p.m. PST.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.