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
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.
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?
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