What do you think of these pictures? I mean, REALLY think? I’ll admit. I was a bit shocked at first. ‘Real people’ as we term them in mag land, don’t often pop up on big (okay, medium) budget beauty campaigns – discounting Dove’s wholesome armpit-flashing yummy mummies that is. But after listening to Illamasqua’s Creative Director Alex Box (think Dita Von Teese meets a young Caryn Franklin) and David Horne, Director of Product Development, and their compelling argument for real women of all ages in beauty advertising, I think this bold move could and should be applauded. The pics are the result of a competition to find faces for Illamasqua’s new Generation Q A/W collection – a treasure chest of iridescent vinyl powders, goth-vamp varnishes and an eyeliner that sets fast like a metallic permanent marker – and will arrive in stores and counters on September the 6th.
I have slight issues with the amount of shimmer – a point preempted by Horne who sticks two fingers up to the unspoken rule that mature ladies shouldn’t sparkle. It’s not because it highlights the texture of the skin, I just find them a touch on the shiny side, but maybe that’s because my eyes are so conditioned to the flattened textures of Pantone retouched skin we see every day.
Illamasqua are, as beauty brands go, outspoken and irreverent and that’s why I have more than a soft spot for them, even though my make-up style is hardly what you’d term experimental. Sometimes their risks pay off, sometimes they don’t, but their overriding ethos that life is too short to tread the path of predictability resonates with me. After all, why should women over the age of 50, or even 40, have to conform to a sea of beige ‘appropriate’ make up?
I’ve noticed a similar shift in the fashion world with blogs like Advanced Style and brands like Lanvin championing stylish older women so I think Illamasqua are actually ahead of the curve on this one, at least in the beauty industry. Evelyn, the oldest of the models (top pic), was entered into the competition by her daughter and since the shoot, has eschewed her usual safe look in favour of tarmac black nails and strongly defined brows. After being made-up by Alex Box for the shoot she confided she slept in her make-up, she loved it so much, as a room full of beauty editors shuddered… But why the hell not? Her confidence is what makes this look work for her and maybe that’s what we all need in life. A little reassurance to say it’s okay not to be perfect, just be real and be creative with your look. I for one, went home a little bit bolder and determined to bin the bland. And I’m a beauty editor for Christ’s sake!