How did you get involved with Illamasqua?
I’m the founder of Illamasqua – it’s my creation. I’m a Yorkshire-born, self-taught marketer, with a passion for subcultures, underground scenes and breaking the rules.
Nearly 20 years ago I launched the marketing agency Propaganda; I had an innate belief that there was a better way to create brand growth and loyalty than the traditional formulaic approach. One of Propaganda’s clients was ghd and I was invited to work on their board as Marketing Director. Everyone knows the story of ghd and the phenomenal success it became – it was, and still is, one of the biggest emotional brand builds of modern times. Having explored the emotional connection between hairstyling and self-expression with this brand, and having pushed it just about as far as it could go, make-up became an obvious new frontier for me. I wanted to develop a super-strain of professional make-up that would celebrate individuality, champion self-expression, and deliver a customer experience like no other. I wanted to turn the clinical cosmetics market on its head and rip all the established codes and re-write them. A new, emotional brand in a product-centric, dictatorial market place – that was my vision for Illamasqua.
From a personal perspective, I have a deeply held belief in the fundamental human need, and right, to self-express – the freedom to celebrate life as an individual. An overwhelming sense of acceptance and belonging are two key elements of youth culture too, which goes a long way to explaining my love affair with them. I was at the annual Goth Festival in Whitby when the creative inspiration for Illamasqua first came to me – thousands of people using make-up to define and express their innermost selves, in a way that breaks every boundary of what society deems to be ‘beautiful’. The skin head subculture also has a strong personal resonance too – Illamasqua muse and now BAFTA winning actress Vicky McClure’s portrayal of Lol in the 2006 Shane Meadows film ‘This Is England’ epitomises this; playing a skinhead in the role, Vicky stands for the beliefs of the original skinhead culture and is disgusted by the new wave of racism that is sweeping the country and dividing her gang. There’s a genuine connection between her character in the film and Illamasqua’s values; she stands for the tolerant beliefs of her subculture and embodies its positive aspects.
What do you enjoy most about Illamasqua?
I love the fact that there is no other make-up brand in the market place that comes close to doing what Illamasqua does. The most exciting thing about Illamasqua is that there are no boundaries – it’s our mission to constantly push the outer reaches of creativity, to delight our customers and fans with truly professional make-up pieces that deliver exceptional performance, and to connect with them in a way that has integrity and passion. Our collections, and the creative campaigns that support them, are created to inspire, to turn preconceived norms of what constitutes beauty and art on their head in a way that gives people the permission and freedom to truly be themselves. Illamasqua is unique.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
It’s difficult to separate where I’d like to be in 5 years’ time from the trajectory that Illamasqua is on. If we were to fast-forward 5 yeras, by that time Illamasqua would be eight years old. I’d like to see a world in 2016 that’s a place where refusing to be everybody has become a global battle cry, with Illamasqua right at the heart of the revolution.
What are your ideas for Illamasqua in the future and how will it develop?
Illamasqua is here to stay and we definitely mean business. As I’m sure you know, we’re about to launch our first ever fragrance this month in a ground-breaking way that no-one else has ever achieved before; powerful imagery, potent and magical ingredients that are daringly provocative, and a revolutionary bottle design that is very Illamasqua. It gives me great pleasure to be able to say that the same intense levels of creativity and daring that gave birth to Illamasqua are the driving forces behind the launch of Freak and the global feedback we’ve already received has been nothing short of phenomenal. The very best ideas and the way in which they turn into new concepts are always a team effort at Illamasqua - Joint MD Joe Corre has a wealth of experience in fragrance in Agent Provocateur (it quickly became one of the most successful fragrance launches of recent times) and our Creative Director Alex Box took the lead in expressing this visually. The world is falling in love with the result.
We will always push the button on new product development, and hard - developing stunning, innovative and sophisticated products that remain true to our professional ethos. You’ll see Illamasqua focus even harder on this in the future, and we’ll almost certainly grow globally too, pioneering a new direction in make-up in those countries that are ready to make the leap from the ordinary to the extraordinary. It’s an incredible future to look forward to.