Tag Archives: Illamasqua

Full of Eastern Promise

Illamasqua Equinox headshotApologies for the absence of new blog posts over the last week but I was unwell and feeling far too wretched to write.. I did get a laugh in the midst of the misery, however, thanks to the arrival in the mail of a selection of items from the team at cult British beauty house Illamasqua, the brand for those who dare to follow their own path make-up wise. Why the laugh? Well, actually it was more of a snigger – fuelled by the inexplicable name of one of the beautiful nail varnish I’d been sent. Phallic. Nope, me neither. It’s a sparkly midnight blue shade – not a fleshy one as you might perhaps expect!Illamasqua nail varnish in Phallic

Anyway,  it’s part of the Equinox Gift Set (£45), one of three which complement the gorgeous Equinox make-up collection modelled in the photo above. The  collection is said to represent a desert at night, with the shimmering textures of the gorgeous Celestial Palette (£34; one of the loveliest eyeshadow quartets I’ve seen this season – scroll down to view it), the Broken Gold (£18.50) liquid eye colour and the champagne shade of Nail Varnish in Beam (£14.50) all evoking the stars and the sky.

The collection is completed with a set of False Eye Lashes in No27 (£12.50) and the deep garnet-coloured, satin-finish Glamore Lipstick in Vega (£19.50). In all, a ravishing alternative to the other beauty houses’ festive make-up collections – and a unique one. After all, I don’t think I’ve come across one that reminds me of the Three Kings of the Orient or the old Turkish Delight ads before…Illamasqua Celestial Palette

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The Eyebrows Have It

Kim Novak eyebrowsWell, thanks to one new beauty buy, I have finally achieved movie star eyebrows – and given my face a lift. Illamasqua Precision Brow Gel (£18.50) is the miracle worker in question. It’s a little pot of water-resistant, long-lasting, intensely coloured cream-gel and it comes in four shades designed to complement different hair types. Since it doesn’t come with a brush, you might have to invest in one if you want to give the gel a go.

The brow gel can be used to create groomed, sleek eyebrows or to even out brows which are uneven or patchy. If you’re looking to neaten and shape the brows, an angled brush – Illamasqua’s Angled Brush (£19) for example – is just the job. And if you need to draw in some fine hairs that are missing, then an Illamasqua Eye Brow Gel_Aweeyeliner brush – I love Illamasqua’s Fine Liner Brush (£19) – is essential. The results are far more realistic and natural-looking than a pencil could achieve – and the lines stay in place all day.

I’ve been using the Awe shade (left), which was designed for blonde brows – and can’t recommend it highly enough. I reckon Kim Novak – my eyebrow pin-up girl – would agree ….

Available from www.illamasqua.com

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Ring the Changes

Illamasqua telephone girl picI love the colours in Matte Effect, the new summer collection from out-there beauty brand Illamasqua – and I love this Bowie-esque image, created by the company’s dynamic creative director, Alex Box. The new range comprises three Matte Lip Liquids (£18.50 each), which go on as liquid but dry to intense matte colour, and three Velvet Blushers (£21.50), which are long-lasting matte, cream-to-powder blushers. And the other new product is Matte Veil (£30), a mattifying gel which provides a terrific base for make-up. It’s very unusual for a summer collection to be all about matte, but if there’s a convention to be turned on its pretty little head, Illamasqua is the make-up range to do it …

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My Week in Beauty


Oooh, we’re going to experience a bit of a Weimar Republic vibe this autumn – thanks to Illamasqua, the cult makeup brand which champions alternative looks and cultures.. It’s highly appropriate, given how film noir – which gave us the femme fatale who is also a big inspiration for autumn/winter – grew out of German Expressionism of the same era as Berlin’s cabaret scene.

Which, of course, was famously immortalised in the 1972 Hollywood musical Cabaret, with the wonderful Liza Minnelli in her best-known role as Sally Bowles, an American singer who aspires to be as decadent as those around her.

Minnelli designed her iconic look for the film – the pudding bowl haircut with the widow’s peak and the Harlequinesque eye make-up – with the help of her director father, the great Vincente Minnelli. And it’s still a source of inspiration. I’m sure it’s played a part in the soon-to-be-launched Theatre of the Nameless collection from Illamasqua. Whether it inspired their new mascara, Illamasqua Masquara (£15; www.illamasqua.com) or not, who knows – but this fab separating, curling and lengthening mascara is just the job if you want to emulate Liza’s long lashes..


The prettiest package I received last week was from The Body Shop which this week launches three new ranges of handcare products. There’s the Hemp collection, for those of us with dry skin; the Almond range for all skin types and The Body Shop Wild Rose collection for, ahem, “mature skin”.

Not sure how I ended up with the rose range – did someone tip them off about my impending 40th (or is it showing on my mitts?) – but it is lovely to use. Even my boys are finding the Wild Rose Caring Hand Wash (£5; www.thebodyshop.co.uk) a luxurious alternative to the usual liquid soaps I offer them. I’ll let you know if the combined assault of the handwash, the Wild Rose Targeted Hand Oil (£7) and the Wild Rose Nourishing Hand Butter (£10) shave any years off the apparent age of my hands….


Wednesday was the day for my regular visit to the Clarins Spa in Frasers, Glasgow. Lindsay, my lovely therapist, really looks after me and is making it her mission to ensure that I continue to look as if I’m on this side of 40 – even after December, when the big day comes along. Last time I saw her, she focused the attention of the Tri-Active facial on anti-ageing for the first time and on Wednesday, she gave me some top tips on caring for the delicate skin around the eyes.

I’ve been diligently using eye cream at night and eye gel in the morning for the last few months and, as if they knew I was starting to get a bit fixated about this, Clarins has just brought out a new, improved version of its fab Clarins Eye Contour Gel (£26.50; www.clarins.co.uk) which is a must for de-puffing the eye area. Lindsay also suggested I try a couple of new additions to the Clarins repertoire: Eye Revive Beauty Flash (£26.50) and Skin-Smoothing Eye Mask (£28.99) …. Watch this space! Oh, and the Clarins Spa in Frasers (0141 221 5760) is currently (until September 3) offering a free “mini” neck and shoulder massage, and 25% off any Clarins Treatment if you book and pay when you’re instore.


By coincidence, having tried out and loved their new mascara earlier in the week, I met Illamasqua’s PR Nicola in Glasgow on Thursday. Nicola is a walking testament to how wearable this apparently inaccessible brand’s cosmetics are. She looked stunning with her lilac-grey eye make-up, fanned-out lashes that would have made Bambi weep with envy, violet lips and matte purple nails. All of which worked a treat with her shock of short platinum blonde hair.

It was the nails that caught my eye most of all… Nicola was sporting one of the new Illamasqua Nail Varnishes (£13.50), four new shades with a rubbery matte finish which were inspired by the so-called Boot Girls of the Wittenberg Platz; prostitutes whose menu of services was indicated by the colour of their boot-laces… I’m not sure what Nicola’s Faux Pas shade (a dark purple) signifies (we probably don’t want to know!), but the one I’ve taken to is Vice (pictured, though it doesn’t look as maroon in this photo as it does in real life), a Rouge Noir-like dark cerise.


I didn’t go out on Friday night – though I would have liked to, as I wanted to give my trio of new Benefit Velvet Eyeshadows (£13.50; www.benefitcosmetics.co.uk) an outing.

Snow Job (a minty greeny-grey), Raining Men (a grey-ish greeny shade reminiscent of my favourite new eyeshadow from Chanel – the Illusion d’Ombre in Epatant) and Tickled Mink (a taupe shade) are the gorgeous new additions to Benefit’s range of beautifully blendable and long-lasting eyeshadows.

I may have been all dressed-up, make-up wise, with nowhere to go – but I know which eyeshadows I’ll be turning to next time I do have somewhere …

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Make-up by Moonlight

“Dare to be different” is the philosophy of the people behind the hottest new make-up on the beauty scene, Illamasqua. This innovative British company, the first cosmetics company to bill itself as being a “night-time brand”, has quickly established itself as a mecca for anyone who doesn’t want to blend in with the rest of the crowd – and is sick of being told that blonde, tanned and skinny is the best way to be. It has only been available for a year, but already Illamasqua can count Lily Allen, Sienna Miller and, especially, Courtney Love among its devoted fans.

Discussing the range in Glasgow, one of its creators, make-up artist extraordinaire Alex Box – a vision of out-there style in her tomato red jumpsuit, high heels, gold-tipped red nails and big, two-toned hair – explains how fed up she had become with bland cosmetics adverts which have no imagination and no story to tell. Illamasqua’s ads are dark, decadent and look like movie stills. Unusually, it’s the models’ dramatic looks that are to the fore, not the products.

Even more annoying to Alex, who works regularly with maverick fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, is the way that everybody is being pressurised to look the same, and continuously being told – by beauty companies and the media – which products will help them get the looks that will enable them to fit in. “At Illamasqua, we’re the opposite,” she says proudly. “We want people to find themselves within our vast range of colours and pigments.”

We’ve all come across hairdressers and make-up advisers who tell us which colours we should wear, based on whether our colouring is cool or warm – and not allowing for the fact that we may well love how we look with a contrasting colour or that we don’t actually believe in these old-fashioned rules. Well, that won’t happen at Illamasqua. Rather than forcing their tastes on customers, the Illamasqua make-up artists will help them achieve their desired look.

“There’s no formula to beauty and style,” explains Alex. “This is my pet hate. People are fed up with being told ‘what not to wear’. It’s a dumbing down of people’s personalities and self-expression. You might have lived in Mexico all your life and you might gravitate towards warmer colours in your clothes or accessories. That’s probably the first thing that people notice about you; it’s what makes you you. No-one should tell you that you can’t wear those colours. That’s what winds me up. And seeing that we could stand against that way of thinking was one of the main things that lit my fire about Illamasqua.”

Among the names that kept coming up in market research and focus groups into whose looks people liked and which celebrities they found inspirational were quirky model Agyness Deyn, burlesque queen Dita Von Teese, who has developed a distinctive 1940s look, and Beth Ditto, the plus-sized pop star who very much makes her own rules. “We got feedback from people not necessarily saying that they wanted to look like these women but that they envied their individuality. But what they also said was that they lacked the confidence when it comes to experimenting with make-up.”

A key part of the Illamasqua experience is having an at-counter lesson in how to apply this professional make-up, which was formulated by chemists who normally make theatrical make-up. While the customer is being taught how to create what Illamasqua calls his or her alter-ego, a tiny camera in the mirror films the lesson. So you can take home a DVD of how you were turned into a vampire, flapper, Twiggy-lookalike or whatever you want to be when you go out at night.

And you certainly have plenty of options. The range has no fewer than 650 different colours, including 100 powder eye shadows. So there is something for everybody – even those for whom experimentation is a scary prospect. As Alex says: “One person’s natural is another person’s outrageous – going crazy for one person might be just having a change of eye shadow. That said, we’re trying to do something different rather than trying to please everybody – we’re saying that you’re with us or you’re not with us.”

Nevertheless, there is something for everybody in the vast range which includes some fabulously long-wearing foundations, false eyelashes that would work on everyone from prom princess to drag queen, highly-pigmented eyeshadows and lipsticks, and unusual shades of nail varnish guaranteed to grab attention…

* Illamasqua is in Debenhams, Glasgow and Selfridges, London.

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