We all know that there’s been changes galore in the Illamasqua camp over the past few years and the news that Creative Director, Alex Box is to leave the brand in January is definitely important news for any fans of the brand. Earlier in the year the brand also lost the equally amazing, David Horne who also played a key role in the Illamasqua journey, so is this a sign that even bigger changes are afoot?
I’ve followed this brand since the very start, so it’s very close to my heart. It’s one of the brands that inspired me to be creative with make up and essentially got me excited about beauty as a whole which then lead to this blog being the way it is and the career route that I pursued. Alex Box as a brand ambassador had a lot to do with this as a role model I could relate to.
The roots of the brand at the origin were very much to do with make up for sub cultures, created by a group of creatives who were very much rooted in various sub cultures. As an ex-goth myself this was another reason the brand spoke to me, it took these fashions and gave them a mystical twist that brought the Illamasqua story to life in quality, beautiful products with the most breath taking imagery to go alongside it all.
The below image was taken from their Art of Darkness collection in 2010, which I would say is what I would highlight as classic Illamasqua and what I loved about the brand from the start, it tells a dark, gothic fairy tale with characters, but at the core of it are wearable products that can be used for all sorts. It also depicts very well the original brand tagline which I loved so much, “Make up for your alter-ego”, which has since changed to “you are beauty”- a VERY different sentiment.
Over the years the brand as continued it’s punk rock attitude by breaking rules and conventions within beauty, whilst continuing to offer a versatile range of professional products to a variety of customers. This is very much something I’ve loved about this brand and I’m sure many of you will agree, there are not many brands out there bold enough to break rules and challenge conventions and Illamasqua have definitely been one of them.
They made turquoise lipstick and white eyeliner a BIG thing, it was copied all over and it looked AMAZING! Human Fundamentalism was all about colour and creativity, referencing some of the sub cultures at the origins of the brand, but bring something urban and high fashion to the table too.
Toxic Nature in 2011 was all about weird colours too, the shapes and the styling very unique and innovative. Not something you’d expect to see from any other make up brand at the time and you still probably wouldn’t see now.
Remember when they broke conventions and essentially crowd sourced their models for Generation Q? Showing that Illamasqua can bring make up and creativity to ANY age, race or occupation as well as inspiring self confidence and celebrating some truly beautiful older women. Yes, the products in this range were much more toned down but their campaign maintained the rebelliousness that I love.
The last few collections have spawned more excellent quality products, but I’m sure many of you will agree that they have definitely toned things down ALOT. The first campaign that struck me as not very Illamasqua was the launch of Glamore. The campaign artwork and message was lacking and could have fit just as well with MAC or any other beauty department brand. Yes, the products are beautiful, but it made me worry that their original message was diluting. Like seriously, if it wasn’t for the unusual hair hues and quirky hats these painted faces could be for ANY brand.
I still continued loving the brand though and kept an open mind, interesting to see what twist in the tale would happen next. Since this collection the creative spin has definitely changed, muted tones and super wearable shades are the main story now and not that off the wall, never seen before gothic vibe that brought the brand its life.
I’ve asked the team at Illamasqua a few times about what’s happened to the colour and from the sounds of it, the brands rapid growth, particularly in the Middle East may be to blame, the audience there has a specific style that Illamasqua caters to very well, but it’s definitely not punk rock or gothic. The rapid growth definitely caused the brand to have to change direction to appeal to a more diverse audience, which from a business point of view is amazing for them, but maybe not so amazing for the die hard fans that have been there since the start who loved the punk rock creativity. There is no doubt that their products are excellent quality and that they cater for a wide range of tastes and skin tones, but it does make me a little sad that such a creative brand with such alternative origins is slowly normalising in favour of mainstream commercial success.
Here’s Alex’s statement about her leaving Illamasqua:
Alex has been a huge inspiration to me and I’m so happy that I’ve had the honour to spend time with her on many occasions with thanks to our connection via Illamasqua, it will be sad to visit a Illamasqua Event without her but I have no doubt that she’s going to be up to something amazing under her own name and I’ll be looking forward to seeing what that something is. I’ll take this public chance to thank Alex for her time, her inspiration and motivation, she really is an amazing lady. I’m sure she’ll continue to inspire myself and many others for the rest of her life and beyond.
Overall, I’m interesting to see what this means for the Illamasqua brand, as being tied to such a creative, off the wall artist since the start has obviously fed their creativity and success, will they be opting for a more commerical look with all of their future campaigns? Who will step in to fill those shoes? I wonder if this is also the sign of a greater change within the brand. What do you think?