LONDON — British pop star Rita Ora is the latest star to add her celebrity wattage to Rimmel, which has partnered with her on a collection of nail polishes and lip colors.
But Rimmel has been trading on the popularity of celebrities since 1842. Back then it was the queens and princesses of Europe who were the stars. Eugene Rimmel — son of the spectacularly named French perfumer Hyacinthe Mars Rimmel, who arrived in London and opened the first Rimmel shop on Albemarle Street in 1834 — harnessed their names and likenesses to put them on fragrances to sell to a public that was just as royal-obsessed as it is today. The 10 royal warrants from the royalty of Belgium, Spain, Portugal and more didn’t hurt either.
The brand was acquired in 1996 by Coty, which began a re-branding program that saw Kate Moss become the face of the brand in 2001, a role she still holds 12 years later. Georgia May Jagger joined Moss in 2010, after a period during which names including Zooey Deschanel, Coco Rocha, Lily Cole and Sophie Ellis-Bextor had all fronted campaigns for the brand.
Like many British girls, Ora’s relationship with Rimmel began in her teenage years, when she would spend her lunch money on cover-up. “I had spots; I still do,” she explained. “I was in school and I had, like, 5 or 6 pounds [about $8 or $9.60 at current exchange]. I wasn’t the richest kid on the planet. I would go and buy a red lipstick that I couldn’t wear with uniform and I’d have to wait until 3:30 p.m. to even put it on, which I always did, even though my mum thought I looked ridiculous.”
Ora says her first run in with cosmetics happened when she encountered a red lipstick in her mother’s gold makeup bag. “It looked so good, I wanted to eat it,” she remembered. She also had a proclivity for making snacks out of wax crayons, to her mother’s dismay, which was the inspiration for the lipsticks’ format. “It’s cool to have that childhood memory in this lipstick. It kind of makes it funny and it always makes me laugh,” she said.
With her blonde curls, dark brows and hyper-colored pout, Ora name checked Marilyn Monroe and Madonna as references for her signature look, but also said that Freddie Mercury’s confidence and “crazy ways,” as well as the “exaggeration of pinup girls,” have been her inspirations.
Her collaboration is made up of seven chubby lip shades and 12 colors of 60 Seconds nail polish — six cool tones and six warm ones — all of which feature Ora’s likeness on a postage stamp done in a Warhol-sequence pop-art style. The pop star said her favorites were “Ora-gasmic Orange” for nails and “Richer The Better,” a true red, for lips. Prices have yet to be announced but Rimmel’s 60 Seconds nail polish sells for 3.99 pounds, or $6.40, and lipsticks start from 4.99 pounds, or $7.95.
While Rimmel said that it was still to be confirmed as to whether the collaboration would continue into future lines or seasons, Ora was keen to grow the collection. “I wanted to start small because it was my first thing,” she explained. “I wanted to see how that goes and, if it works, we expand, that’s the aim. I see what they like, what they don’t like and kind of evolve and make it right.”
“We wanted to do an artist collaboration with someone with a real point of view,” said Friedemann Schmid, vice president of Rimmel London, of this partnership. “The plan is to do a different collaboration with a London artist every year. Whether that be with a pop star like Rita, or an artist, or a fashion designer.”
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