In the Hot Seat with Illamasqua’s Kate Massarella


Our friends over in the UK have been keeping a delicious makeup secret from us – well, until now. A fab 1920s underground-inspired brand, Illamasqua (pronounced ill-a-mask-a) has finally crossed over the Atlantic – can you say “hallelujah”? If you aren’t one of the many beauty insiders and aficionados singing Illamasqua’s praises, try any of their intense, color-rich products, and we promise you soon will be. Launching their top 200 products stateside at select Sephora stores and at, the UK-based company is more than just a brand heralded by professional makeup artists, color junkies and celebrities such as Sienna Miller, Adele and Beth Ditto (to name a few), but it’s a brand with a conscience. They pride themselves on being a celebration of confident statements of self-ownership and expression, as well as a symbol of tolerance for followers of more alternative scenes, as they show in their support of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. This dark, edgy and heady brand isn’t just for those rooted in counter culture, but for anyone looking to tap into their alter ego or inner vixen. The massive palette of colors and textures leaves nothing to be desired, and allows you to get as subtly alluring or overtly bold as you dare. As the brand director of Illamasqua, Kate Massarella shares a little more insight into the daring brand.

BN: Since Illamasqua’s launch in the UK last year, and its recent launch in the US this year, it’s gaining speed with beauty devotees everywhere. Why do you think that is?
KM: Because of both our brand ethos and our products. Our brand stands for individuality and self-expression and empowering individuals to be more confident with make-up. Our products are highly pigmented, long-lasting and come in a wide variety of colors and textures so they work on any skin tone and are really creative.

BN: It’s evident that Illamasqua has a unique take on makeup, with the idea of the alter ego and being a nighttime specific brand. What was the motivation behind this special edge?
KM: Talking to lots of people about make-up! We did lots of research when developing the brand and we found out that people have a completely different relationship with make-up at night. Nighttime is when the creativity comes out; people explore their darker, sexier and more confident side – their alter ego.

BN: What makes Illamasqua unique?
KM: We are about self-expression and championing the individual, rather than just following fashion.

BN: Tell us a little about the creators and what they wanted for women by launching Illamasqua?
KM: Illamasqua was created by a group of individuals passionate about the beauty industry that wanted to that put the rock and roll back into make-up! The group includes Alex Box, a successful and avant-garde make-up artist who regularly works with designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Chanel, and with magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s. We wanted to create a brand that gives women and men the tools and confidence to experiment with make-up and create their own nighttime ‘look’. Our products cover a wide spectrum of color and texture, so it works with many individuals. For example, one person’s alter ego look may just be adding red lipstick to an otherwise soft look, but another person may want to go all the way and create a dramatic full-face look.

BN: What product should every woman have in her makeup bag from this line?
KM: A set of our false eye lashes – they transform a look from day to night instantly and are easy to apply and are so beautiful!

BN: What non-Illamasqua product should every woman have, in your opinion?
KM: A really great cleanser. If you are experimental with make-up it is key to remove it all properly at night.

BN: What is your favorite beauty product you simply cannot live without? Favorite Illamasqua product?
KM: Eve Lom facial cleanser – for me, it’s second to none! As for Illamasqua products, I can’t live without the powder blushers – Lover is my absolute favorite. Just a sweep over each cheek can take skin from tired and dull to bright and glowing.

BN: What would you say to the more makeup conservative woman out there that is intrigued by your brand, but is scared of its intensity?
KM: Have a go – it washes off!

BN: What type of woman is this brand for?
KM: Anyone that wants to create a nighttime make-up look and get creative with make-up!

BN: Tell me about S.O.P.H.I.E. – the girl and the charity effort your brand supports.
KM: We are very proud to support the Sophie Lancaster Foundation and in the UK, proceeds from each SOPHIE Pencil go direct to the charity. Illamasqua stands for self-ownership and self-expression. It is a celebration of idiosyncrasies and a symbol of tolerance. We are therefore proud to support this foundation, a charity founded by Sylvia Lancaster to help Stamp Out Prejudice, Hatred and Intolerance Everywhere (S.O.P.H.I.E). On August 11, 2007, 20-year-old Sophie Lancaster and her boyfriend Robert Maltby were kicked, stamped on and left unconscious – for nothing more than looking different. Sophie later died from her injuries. The charity’s long-term goal is to change social mindset – to make people more tolerant and accepting, no matter how a person looks. As Sylvia, Sophie’s mum, reaches the two-year anniversary of her daughter’s tragic death, you can do your bit to support the S.O.P.H.I.E. cause, simply by celebrating who you really are, and not being afraid to express yourself. To find out more, please visit

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