The approach may be eccentric: Illamasqua encourages self-expression of the bolder person hidden inside us and defines itself as "make-up for your alter ego", which may have you pouting purple or teal lips.
The British beauty brand has been toeing this fine line since making its debut in 2008. Its roots stem from the dark and illicit 1920s club scene combined with the heritage going into the manufacture of make-up for films and theatre. As such, its colourful collections are accompanied by dramatic avant-garde looks that display freedom of expression.
"A misperception about Illamasqua is that it's make-up for young people when we believe that beauty has no age limits, which is communicated in our Generation Q campaign," said Joseph Corre, the brand CEO, who was in town recently to open its first counter in Thailand, at Central Chidlom department store.
Joseph Corre, Illamasqua’s brand CEO.
The Generation Q campaign features older as well as young models, who are not really models but make-up fans with a sense of their own beauty.
"Make-up may be considered as something that makes you look attractive to other people, hence you would wear it when looking for a boyfriend or a husband," he said. "Based on this thinking, when women hit their 40s and 50s, they may think they are supposed to fade away and not wear any make-up because they don't go out any more and that life is kind of finished. And we don't agree with this."
Corre's vision of ageless beauty is inspired by his mother (fashion designer, Vivienne Westwood), who in her 70s, is still glamorous. Accordingly, beauty is a celebration of individual self-expression at any age. Illamasqua thus welcomes women of all ages to come to its cosmetic counters and rediscover themselves.
"We have mature women coming to us. One is a customer, who previously went to another brand but in her 50s she didn't get the same attention that she used to get when she was in her 20s and 30s. She's the one who wanted to try our Apocalips teal lipstick and loves it," said Corre.
Referring to the colour wheel, blue-green is on the opposite of red, and it gives that same impression as a classic and striking red. Made by a notable German manufacturer, the professional-quality make-up is highly-pigmented to provide intense colours.
"Our make-up comes in amazing colours, and it depends on how you use them to make them wearable and you can always play with the shades, which can be wiped off," he added. "Today, there are not many new make-up brands that can make it. So first of all, the product itself has to stand out. People will try it once and if it doesn't work, they won't come back and try again. So it's important to get the product right."
Limited edition Christmas Nail Duo in Viridian and Glitterati.
The name of the brand comes from Illusion and Masquerade, and its colourful illusions has revitalised the beauty industry, which had been influenced by the natural and no-makeup look.
"I find it amusing how much money women spend to look natural as if not wearing any make-up. I don't want make-up to be natural, instead I want it to be supernatural," said Corre.
Customers now have a voice about what they like or don't like through social media, he added, and beauty companies can no longer assume that whatever they produce, people are going to buy them.
"Most of the make-up brands are owned by cosmetic giants run by accountants, who are more interested in making money. So there's a space for a new and creative brand like Illamasqua," he said.
"Within a short period of time, we have learned whether it's going to work or not. Now that we're here, we know where we have to go and we have to go fast while making sure that wheels don't fall off. So we have to choose our business partners very well in carrying out our global expansion."
Besides the UK, Illamasqua is present in the US, Australia, Croatia, the Middle East, and now in Thailand with Central Trading as its distributor.
About the author
- Writer: Kanokporn Chanasongkram