Julian Kynaston founded one of today's biggest makeup houses - Illamasqua, and is still joint MD with Joe Corre. A passionate, anarchic champion of makeup, he describes wearing Illamasqua as "...wearing war paint against mediocrity."
What's the founding philosophy of your brand?
To provide both a choice and a permission for women and men to wear make up differently and to discover either a more confident or sexual (or whatever) alter ego through a look that they have never dared wear. In doing so to provide an alternative to those brands who want to dictate a specific look and who use fashion simply to encourage people to buy more make up in order to keep up with it.
What or who inspires you?
Being told that the beauty market place in particular make up impenetrable as it was owned predominantly by four French giants, being repeatedly told that to launch a brand to a level that it was both international, respected and commercially viable could only be done through 25 years of steady growth or a hundred million pounds of launch money, it was this that primarily spurred me to prove otherwise and that a British private business could achieve a major status in just 3 years and only 10 million pounds. In addition to this ~I have always been inspired by youth culture and the creation of emotional brands which are achieved through the quality of the product and not the hyping of a less than superior product.
What's been your proudest moment in your career?
When the competition became aware of what we were achieving and
went within 12 short months from saying we wouldn't/couldn't last
beyond a year to then going back to the drawing board to try to
copy our theatre, to try to poach our best counter staff only to
find that money could not lure these people who were bought into
our deeper ethics and philosophies and then to see the giants of
the sector literally and without shame or apology copy our lead in
terms of our visual imagery and product, I think being told
repeatedly by our clients that what they get with Illamasqua is
more than what we directly bring them but also the reaction of
there existing beauty brands to raise their game upon our arrival,
which of course is great news for them.
Which women wear your looks most beautifully?
I don't know her name but I'm told that a very conservative looking middle aged woman visited Selfridges Oxford Street around 18 months ago when we lead the trend on the black/very dark blue lipsticks, she came to our counter saying that "this feels like a place I can try a dark blue lipstick" this for me unpinned that an alter ego can exist at any level and her wearing that lipstick is no less a transformation as our legion of followers who exist as men by day and women by night. She actually was probably braver, so to me she is the answer to this question because she proves that Illamasqua does not have a target customer, what it does have is a target state of mind which is exactly what we set out to achieve.
What is it about London that inspires you?
It is the wonderful characters of a few individuals who exist in the shadows of Soho who are loyal to it's past and resentful of its current state. These individuals such as Phil Dirtbox and Jake Vegas who have crafted their characters to reflect their true hearts and have actually moved fully to become their own alter egos. They are kind people, they can have good conversation that isn't driven about Xfactor or the like, and they inspire.
Which other beauty product do you wish you'd created?
Actually me and my girlfriend have just discovered Crystal Clear which is a range of fo skin care products, the quality and immediacy of their effect is truly astounding.
Who makes up your own beauty entourage?
Mainly I tend to rely on Spob, Daniel and Ross from our team, and at the moment I put my dress code in the hands of either Rita Britain at Pollyanna or the team at Child of the Jago, I just let them play with me
Text: Grace Timothy