The Victoria Quarter in Leeds has its fair share of beautiful shops and recently another one joined the ranks with the opening of the Illamasqua store. What it lacks in size it makes up for in sheer drama, with black walls and beautiful fittings. On the first floor is space that is used for pre-bookable make-overs; the cost of which is redeemable against purchases. On my first visit there last week, I felt distinctly under-dressed in my fleece and jeans (it was cold!) but the staff couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful.
What I previously knew about Illamasqua (a company with history dating back to the Kryolan products from the hedonistic and avant-garde days of 1920’s Berlin) was what I had read about – rave reviews from make-up artists about the quality, colours and high levels of pigmentation which gives them a truly long-lasting finish. The products have genuinely been developed by professional make-up artists, which has lead to brilliant formulations, innovative products and unique colours being made available to everyone. Having spent a bit of time with a member of staff trying out some of the stunning new pure pigments and metallic eye colours, I think they’re amazing too! The tag line ‘make-up for your alter-ego‘ pretty much sums up what the products are about. Bold, dramatic colours, false eye lashes and high impact, long lasting results. This is make-up at its finest, and perfect for Christmas!
What I wasn’t really aware of is the wonderful ethos of the company. Illamasqua calls it ‘ human fundamentalism’ – at the heart of the company is a wonderful feeling of inclusiveness, a celebration of individuality and of self-expression. This belief in the importance of humanity, tolerance and acceptance leads them to support the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, set up in 2007 after the death of a young girl, who was attacked for nothing more than looking different. Every purchase of a Sophie medium eye pencil makes a contribution to the charity.
So, a company with a heart and with amazing products. Sadly,(or so I thought) it’s make up for parties, evenings out and lots of glamour. Not much like my life then… Not quite so – as we left the store, we spied the most stunning collection of nail polishes and my lovely friend treated both of us to a bottle. I chose ‘Untold’, the reddest, most glitter-filled polish I’ve ever seen. A few coats of this on my nails and they are the shiniest thing since Dorothy’s shoes in ‘The Wizard of Oz’, and I cannot stop looking at them. So, there is room for a little Illamasqua (both the products and the understanding) in all of our lives, and I will be back for more.