It’s not every day I get to have face time with the founder of the fastest growing makeup brand in history, so when I do, I make the most of the experience. Julian Kynaston, founder of Illamasqua, made a stop in Chicago recently to celebrate the brand’s expansion in to U.S. Bloomingdale’s stores. He is a vision at what must be nearly 7 feet tall and was rocking a fierce black smoky eye when he greeted me at Bloomies. Julian spoke at length to me about self-expression, the core of the brand. He built a brand that celebrates the unique. It’s not about looking like everyone, rather, about looking like you. His passion and sincerity on this topic especially came through when he described his work with The Sophie Lancaster Foundation, a charity that Illamasqua has supported for years.
Perhaps the most impressive point of differentiation for Illamasqua is that they’ve risen to cult beauty status without traditional advertising. Rather, the brand relies completely on the power of social media.
For those (like me) who make a sport of studying seasonal makeup releases, you’ll notice that Illamasqua’s are never dictated by the “it” color of the season. Take Sacred Hour, Illamasqua’s fall collection—which, p.s., happens to include the most perfect rosy pink velvet blush. As Julian tells it, the collection is about releasing your inner warrior and finding courage. What that means in terms of color is up to YOU.
My gateway into the world of Illamasqua was a nail polish called Bacterium. It was everything during my greige phase. From there, it just took one bright pink cheek color (who can resist those black compacts?) for me to realize that there was so much more to this brand. And while they may have a flair for theatrics and drama, there are just as many neutrals and classic shades within the line. Case in point: this taupe-filled eyeshadow palette from Sacred Hour. It’s beyond.
Skin Base Lift concealer and White Light brightener
After chatting with Julian and oogling the Reflection Palette, one of the artists gave me a little refresh with new Skin Base Lift. It’s a brightening concealer that has warm peach tones to help cover any hint of darkness. Shade 1 made me look like a brand new girl. And, when I thought his work was done, he used a tiny angled brush to trace the White Light right above and below my brow bones. After he blended, it was like WOAH. No shimmer or obvious highlight, just better skin.
I believe there’s just a handful of Bloomingdale’s stores in the U.S. with a full Illamasqua counter at this stage, so let’s consider ourselves lucky in Chicago. There’s something to be said for getting the full on counter experience. Especially since our Bloomie’s just got a major beauty floor upgrade.