I couldn't help but be curious when I was invited to the exclusive blogger launch of Illamasqua's SS11 Toxic Nature make-up collection. Last season's Art of Darkness collection had been, as the name suggests, quite gothic. With the sole exception of the lone fairy in the campaign, the other models, on the whole, wore darkly opulent looks. Having seen the sea of brights emerge on the SS11 catwalks, I was interested to see what direction the brand's new collection would take. Would there be more of the same, or would the brand take an altogether brighter approach to the new season?
The official copy for the collection reads:
"Unpredictable. Unchartered. Unnatural. Distorted by mankind, the natural world is fighting back, in retaliation against the modified society that plunders it, the landscape has issued forth a torrent of hybrid shades. Corrupted hues glister amongst muted tones - extreme, intoxicating versions of their original selves. This is an atomic-botanical environment where survival is key and camouflage by colour is the path to existence".
If I had to describe it myself, it would be something along the lines of "The Garden of Eden meets Chernobyl".
Get The Toxic Nature Look
The opening picture (at the top) showcases one of the more extreme looks that can be created with this collection. The model wears:
- New Cream Pigment in Emerge (peach), Bedaub (mint), and Mould (grape) - £17
- Precision Ink in "Abyss" - £17
-Lipstick in "Atomic" - £15.50
- Illuminator in "Odyssey" - £13.50
- Medium Pencil in "Fidelity" - £13
- Nail Varnish in "Radium" - £13.50
This is one of the softer campaign shots, showcasing the versatility of the products. I would consider the campaign shots in the same manner you would a couture fashion show. Couture is theatre at the grandest, most extravagant scale. A couture customer such as Daphne Guinness, would watch a show, and mentally edit the creations, deconstructing them, perhaps taking a silhouette and colour here, and a fabric and detail there, making her own mental shopping list of how she would have the designs adapted to meet her own specific needs and fantasies.
This make-up collection is no different. Yes, you can go full on Harajuku Girl and paint the town neon if you wish, but some astoundingly sophisticated and sensual looks are easily achievable too, using the nude shades in the range. If you love super-bright shades, but are fearful of an OTT look, you can always choose one of the bolder eye, lip or nail shades as a focal point to your beauty look, tapping into the trend for toxic neons, but without going over the edge, taking a full on, apocalyptic Mad Max approach.
Competition alert! If you register on the Illamasqua website and get on the waiting list for your favourite products from the Toxic Nature collection, the brand will select three lucky winners, and send them all the products they've selected, in advance of the online launch of the collection on the 10th of March, and the UK store launches on the 17th of March.
The official video that accompanies the campaign is my favourite to date. I took some snaps to showcase some of the vivid looks we saw.
I'm loving the purple lashes in this shot. You can achieve this look by brushing one of the Cream Pigments through your lashes with a clean disposable mascara wand (you can snap them up from branches of Sally's). Alternatively, you could use a brow and lash comb, or even a clean old toothbrush.
This eye make-up look is my absolute favourite from the campaign. The Cream Eye Shadow in Bedaub (mint green), looks amazing on the model's tanned skin. The black tear effects are also a winner, achieved here with the Precision Ink in Abyss, a glossy black long wear liquid liner.
This shot is bonkers, the model looks like the love child of Ru Paul and Lady Gaga, but she looks fierce none-the-less.
The Colour Chart
David Horne, the head of new product development for Illamasqua, was especially excited about this colour chart. Showcasing the colours in the range, it demonstrates how new shades can be created by mixing different ones together. Kind of like a Dulux paint chart for the Nu Rave generation.
The Face Chart
Face charts were available to the bloggers at the event, allowing them the opportunity to create their own unique looks.
If I had to create a mood board for the collection, it would feature reference imagery from the following three artists:
Even the food got the toxic treatment, these macaroons are like Laduree on acid.
The displays at the event definitely had psychedelic elements. Here the neon bright shades are flanked by a blue butterfly and rainbow-hued beetle.
This magic mushroom was rather novel, certainly a different approach to merchandising make-up
The tangerine and fuchsia pink magic mushroom mirrored the colours of the collection's lipsticks and lipglosses.
The Cream Pigments
The shade variety in the Cream Pigments range was intriguing. Unnatural brights sat beside neutral, flesh-toned nudes. With a matte texture and waterproof finish, these densely pigmented creams would be ideal for the festival circuit this summer, guaranteed to last as long as you do, applied with either fingers, or a brush.
From left to right, I have swatched the Cream Pigments in Bedaub (mint green), Mould (grape), Dab (Lilac), Delerium (rose taupe) and Emerge (peach). David Horne attributed the painterly names to the fact that the collection had a painterly feel to it, in terms of the textures of the products, especially the Cream Pigments, Precision Ink, Lipsticks and Lipgloses.
At Cynthia Rowley's AW10 show in New York, the models sported coloured streaks in their hair. This look has since been adopted by a host of celebrities, from Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj to Ke$ha.
You can re-create this look by painting the Cream Pigments through your hair. I'd recommend using one of Illamasqua's angled brushes (available in two sizes) for a precise application.
The nude look is big news this season. Puerto Rican-born model Joan Smalls shows that contouring works equally well on darker skins, photographed here, backstage at the Versace SS11 show.
You can get the look with these Cream Pigments. Pictured from left to right are; Hollow, Emerge, Mould and Delerium. Leading film and TV make-up artist Spob was on hand to impart some words of wisdom about these fabulously versatile Cream Pigments. She suggested applying the Cream Pigment in Emerge (peach) under the eyes to counteract dark shadows (especially on darker skin tones). She suggests gently patting the product on the areas you wish to conceal, using the Illamasqua Eye Shadow Brush. Layer the product on until the desired depth of colour had been achieved. For a truly flawless airbrushed finish, she suggests blending with Illamasqua's Eye Shadow Blending Brush.
You can take the nude look from matte to dewy with the aid of a nude highlighter. Jac, pictured here, backstage at Gucci SS11, shows how a neutral contour shade blended around the eye, worn with a nude highlighter on the inner corner of the eyes, eyelids and brow bone, can take the look from flat to fierce in seconds.
Get the look with the Cream Pigment in Emerge, Precision Ink in Glister and Nail Varnish in Bacterium (a taupe shade in a similar vein to Chanel's Particuliere, but with some added iridescence).
A swatch of the Precision Ink in Glister (literally Glister by name, Glister by nature, just check out that subtle sparkle).
Colour Block Nails
Backstage at the Christian Dior SS11 show, model Sophi Srej sported oval shaped tangerine nails, setting a trend for uber-bright hues on the nails this season.
A group shot of the new Nail Varnish shades. Pictured from left to right are; Gamma, Radium, Stagnate, Bacterium and Purity.
You can mix and match your wardrobe of new season nail colours, creating a vivid array of striking colour block combinations.
Alternatively, you can make a statement with one colour, as seen above, where the model wears the Nail Varnish in Purity, with the Top Coat on top for a glossy cream finish.
Mike Pocock, who together with Marian Newman and Leighton Denny, is one of the world's leading creative nail artists, has created his second special edition set of Nail Quills, to co-incide with the new Toxic Nature collection. Worn on the thumbs, they have an almost armadillo quality to them with their concertina-style tips. They have been painted with the Nail Varnish in Bacterium.
Pictured above, from left to right, are the Lipglosses in Torture (coral peach) and Divine (fuchsia pink), and Lipsticks in Flare (bright orange) and Atomic (fuchsia violet).
A swatch of the Lipsticks.
A swatch of the lipglosses.
The Illamasqua Toxic Nature SS11 Collection is available online from 10th March, and in UK stores from 17th March.