By Laura Medina
Bloody brilliant brain behind the ground-breakingly hip marketing agency, Propaganda is turning the stiff idea of beauty on its head as a makeup maverick, Illamasqua's founder, Julian Kynaston.
This former "football hooligan" is taking on MAC in the cutting-edge beauty category, transforming the ideas of beauty from the inside-out while standing up for real people who are getting hurt for breaking the mold.
"The name, Illamasqua, was squished together from two different words, “illusion” and “masquerade” to compact, 'illusion-masquerade." Julian said it there is no true meaning behind “illamasqua” yet it perfectly describes what his beauty company is all about.
From Concept to Full Makeup/Skincare Launch at Glendale Galleria's Bloomingdale’s…
"I was thinking about makeup six or seven years ago. We sold our first ever piece of makeup 5 years ago this Fall. Today is our 5th Birthday. It was lipstick in a box and we sold at Selfridge’s in London."
"We are the fastest-growing makeup brand on the planet and the most-sought after brand on the planet, said by WWD."
"WWD Magazine’s thought-provoking statements, “If a department store wanted to lay claim on its customers, it really must have Illamasqua because there is no brand or company that emerge in ten or fifteen years. So if the definition of ‘contemporary’ is new then we’re the only new kids on the block because everything else has been here for ten to fifteen years.”
"So yeah, we’re new. We’re private. Very special because there aren’t that many global brands that remain private. Most are either bought by L’Oreal or Lauder. The fact that we’re private allows us to be very fast, very creative, very daring, very outspoken on issues, very very progressive on terms on what we’re doing."
Everybody says we’re the “new MAC.” Well, that’s a compliment because they are without challenge right now and that’s not healthy for them.”
“You know, people need competition. Now, people say to us that we’re the ‘new MAC’, we think ‘may God, they think we got one counter when actually what we do is globally.’ The truth of the matter is that we’re probably bigger than they were in their fifth year. So, I can’t rule where we’re heading.”
“If they need competition then I would like to be their competitor.”
Illamasqua is the product of the Blogger Age.
“I think the product and the quality of this product, to achieve what it achieved today, no advertising, no celebrity endorsement, all it has is its performance and the word-of-mouth, it comes from that, this means we’re doing something very unique. No others have done that before. We are the products of the bloggers.”
“That’s who we are. If there were no bloggers, no one would know us. They use their hearts and their eyes and told us what we got wrong and they praise what we got right. When we got it wrong, we pay more attention than when they praise us.”
Accountability, what a man.
Julian is also thankful,...
“So, our relationship with bloggers isn’t one of manipulation but one of honesty. It’s the way of say, ‘Here we are. Here’s ourselves. We’re gonna get some wrong. We’re gonna get some right. We’ll get more wrong. If there’s more wrong, we’ll fix it. Be kind to us and they (the bloggers) have been.”
Julian commented that this scribe is “too right” on commenting that his “make-up scar” and “under-eye liner” reminds this scribe on this scribe’s old club kid days., “Too Right,” Julian.
“I think the club kid scene is interesting for us, so was the Goth Scene, so was men in makeup over the years. People say men don’t wear makeup. I say the better question is “Why did men stop wearing makeup ninety-years ago. I think because all these horrible things call ‘markets’ came into the world and start pigeon-holing people in the world and all of a sudden, starting needing to define pigeon customers in building what women should look like and men have to look very different. Really, it is the markets that stop men from wearing makeup; and I think that’s a crime. One of the things I am here to is to go and bring that back. Makeup doesn’t have to be for a guy who’s a gay guy who wants nice skin and an eyeliner. He can be a bit of a rough macho man like I am. ”
Cosmetics for Julian is no different from a tattoo. It's just another way to express oneself.
“We have this thing call “football hooligan” in the UK. I used to be a football hooligan; and I did my fair share of fighting.”
Inquired on his “makeup scar,” Julian, “I don’t know what that is. I have so many scars.”
Underneath all that makeup veneer, there lies a down-to-earth bloke of chivalry, standing up for the underdogs, the honest, the true, the ones who don't fit into a box...
“You know what? Sometimes, you gotta see all aspects of life to be really creative. In many ways, we stand up for more than just makeup. We stand for stumping out prejudices, intolerance everywhere. Makeup is a great way to break down those boundaries. “
This big English bulldog of a man has a big heart to sympathize and man enough to protect...
“We do a lot of work for charities. The Sophie Lancaster Foundation back in the UK, https://www.illamasqua.com/explore/sophie/."
"When we broke down the line that I want women’s makeup to be louder and bolder, the news broke back that a young girl was killed for being looking different. Her name was Sophie Lancaster and she was a gothic kid, no different from that girl I just said good-bye to over there, she was killed for looking different. Here I am trying to launch a brand to make people look different and she was sacrificed for doing just that. So, I really couldn’t carry on without connecting. I connected with her mother to form that charity; and we are so proud to launch centers all over England in that if someone was beaten up, killed for looking different, they get the same sentence that is being reserved for an hate crime, traditionally for the color of the skin or sexuality. ”
“Now, we changed the law and we’re very proud of that.”
“This is why this brand is far more than just beauty. It’s asking and reinventing what beauty is. We’re not gonna string out a bunch of skinny women. My personal attraction is a curvier woman. You don’t need a skinny woman to make a catwalk great. We will never dictate a look. We have our perception of what beauty is. It is in imperfection.”
“When I was young, I was naughty…I always fetch me mom flowers. When I went into that garden, nobody told me what weeds were and what flowers were so I use my eyes. The most beautiful flowers were weeds.”
“This is how I feel today. I believe beauty lies in imperfections. It doesn’t lie on the catwalk…it lies inside you and in others. It’s what we bring out in people.”
Which to leads to what's the newest and latest from Illamasqua...
“Right now, we’re very fascinated by the preparation of the canvas. It’s not just we’re not fascinated with our color palette. We are but we feel to show the color palettes right, we have to focus on the canvas.”