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Meeting make-up artist Alex Box by Alex Zagalsky

By Alex Zagalsky on Feb 27 2014

Alex Box is what I would describe as 'visionary'. It's not a word you hear very often these days (unless you're reading about David Bowie, who should really get royalties for the adjective), but in my book, it certainly applies to Alex, who as Creative Director of the brand, has been instrumental in establishing Illamasqua as the only independent 'avant-garde' company to successfully achieve mass market appeal. While so many other make-up labels have latched on to motherships like L'Oreal and Estée Lauder (MAC being the obvious comparison), Illamasqua has remained resolutely autonomous.

As primarily a colour brand, its mantra is to celebrate individual beauty, without any industry 'parameters' set by age, style and skin colour - often through more 'underground' themes and projects.

Just put it like this, Alex won't be calling Natalie Portman anytime soon to pout prettily under the Eiffel Tower. Illamasqua's Autumn '13 collection was called The Sacred Hour and drew inspiration from the occult and mysticism. The campaign video was sort of Lord of the Rings (the Cate Blanchett moments) meets Labyrinth (not the David Bowie bits - the tarantula hair would have ruined it).

Alex casts her net wide when it comes to collating her influences for new collections and product ideas. I've met her three times now at Illamasqua launches, and on each occasion I'm amazed at how much she knows about culture/sub-culture/and-all-that-stuff-in-between. She can wax lyrical about current clubland fashion and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Busby Berkeley, the 1930s film director who inspired the campaign for the new Spring/Summer 2014 range.

It's called Glamore and it's pop, tickle and fizz all the way with Barbie pink lips and fine glitter polishes that, according to Alex, 'adhere to the nail as smoothly as Polyfilla.' This is a big departure for the brand, which is known for its more subversive colour combinations - like green lipstick and red eyeshadow.

'I just wanted something happy for this collection. We're consistently referred to as a goth brand, and I wanted to challenge this perception. Illamasqua is not defined by one idea.' She explains.

Alex's personal style is always bold, beautiful and a touch theatrical. Last week at the Glamore launch, she was wearing electric blue floaty vintage trousers with a matching shirt (see picture). This 'old Hollywood' style contrasted with her dark (dare I say it, goth) locks with signature Cruella Deville white streak. I know she's a mum like me (she has a young son), so I was aching to ask her about her off-duty wardrobe:

Do you ever just go out in cosy mum gear.... say in UGG boots?
Well not UGG boots no, but I absolutely love slim fitting black sportswear. I often wear a pair of running leggings with a black fitted fleece top and black Nike trainers. I can't do it without a red lip of course. Just can't. My current favourite buggy-pushing outfit is a red ski suit, but again, got to have red lipstick on!'

You must have an extensive collection of vintage wonders...
We've just had our cupboards rebuilt at home - they have to accommodate all my clothes. I don't get rid of anything. These trousers I have on [the blue vintage floaty ones] are years old, but I found the shirt quite recently. The colour match is so perfect that people keep saying they like my jumpsuit! I suppose I do retain colours very well in my mind; I can instantly recognise an Illamasqua colour on people - and there are hundreds.'

What is your style tip for spring 2014?
I don't know about fashion as it's an individual thing, but I think brows will move away from the popular block shape, towards a more natural look that's less sculpted and more feathery, leaving hairs to take their own shape. It's time we let them be a bit.'

If you look closely at the new Illamasqua Glamore posters, you'll notice the models are already sporting these 'less tailored' brows. 'I'm trying to sew the seed gradually. I have to do my bit, even if this collection is about new hydrated colour pop lips and glitter nails.'

And in a nutshell, this is why Alex is a visionary: always paving the way for new trends for people like me, who just gobble them up greedily without wondering how they came about.

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