Charismatic British makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury’s celebrity client list reads like a who’s who of stars — ranging from Kate Moss, Penelope Cruz and Rihanna to Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Lopez and Victoria Beckham — and her plate is always full, with cover shoots and fashion shows (one season she did 42 shows in four cities). Given that, it would be natural to assume that the redheaded dynamo and mother of two young boys might simply relax in her downtime.
Instead, Tilbury fills those spare hours with creating a color-cosmetics and skin-care line that’s been a sensation on both sides of the Atlantic.
From its September 2013 launch at Selfridges in London, Tilbury’s eponymous color cosmetics line has exceeded expectations, and it’s rapidly gaining market share and buzz in the U.S., where it launched last year. Take a July 15 personal appearance at Bergdorf Goodman for the limited-edition Norman Parkinson color collection — Tilbury drew a crowd of 450, with DJ Harley Viera-Newton spinning tunes. She’s also earned a resounding endorsement from Patricia Saxby, vice president and divisional merchandise manager for beauty at Bergdorf Goodman.
“The brand has exceeded our expectations in every way,” said Saxby. “We believe this is only the beginning of a long and successful relationship.”
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Added David Olsen, global vice president at the Net-a-porter Group Ltd.: “The launch and continued success of Charlotte Tilbury on Net-a-porter has been incredible. Charlotte’s inviting personality, unquestioned artistic ability and imagination in product development, coupled with a great team and innovative launches, make them an undeniable force in the beauty industry.”
The exuberant makeup artist (everyone is “darling,” her ability to multitask is legendary, and her heels are always sky-high) has made it clear on many occasions that she wants to be a leader, not a follower. “Unless I can do it better, I don’t want to do it,” Tilbury said, pointing to the Mini Miracle Eye Wand, which was five years in the making. “The lab told me it couldn’t be done. I kept pushing. They wanted to kill me, I wanted to kill them,” she said with a laugh. The $45 product, out in October, is a two-sided pen that Tilbury describes as Photoshop in a jar — one end holds a hydrating and lifting eye cream that tightens the eye area, and the other an undereye light reflector intended to diffuse light from the surface of the skin.
But that’s not all. Tilbury has a robust roundup of launches and gift sets for the second half to keep her brand’s momentum going. “I’ve got trinkets, treats and treasures. They go from $39 to $320, so there’s something for everyone, darling,” said Tilbury during an interview recently at the London NYC Hotel in Manhattan.
While Tilbury refused to discuss sales figures, industry sources estimated that the new products, many of which are limited editions, could generate sales of $7 million at retail in their time on the counter. In the U.S., Tilbury’s products are sold in Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman, on CharlotteTilbury.com, Net-a-porter.com and BeautyLish.com.
Two of Tilbury’s bestsellers in the U.K. will be in U.S. doors for the holidays. Bar of Gold is a $42 gold highlighter that blew out of stores in London in fall 2013, and is expected to sell out on this side of the Atlantic, too, if Tilbury’s social media input is accurate. “I love how you can get an instant read on social media!” said Tilbury, who has almost 500,000 followers on Instagram. Tilbury’s $39 limited-edition lipstick charms, similarly popular in Britain, are back in three shades for the holidays as well.
Also launching is a raft of products duos that Tilbury paired so that even the most makeup-averse can expertly match up complementary shades. All will be available in November. Nocturnal Cat Eyes to Hypnotise, $39, combines Nocturnal Cat Eye Shadow (“the genius is that you can whack it on with a finger”) and a mini-liquid-kohl eyeliner, and will be available in four color combinations, while 6 Shades of Love, $69, pairs Shades of Love Cheek to Chic blush with K.I.S.S.I.N.G Lipstick, along with a travel-size of Magic Cream.
Additional holiday offerings include a $305 10-piece set of Tilbury’s Matte Revolution Lipsticks and the $200 Book of Makeup Magic, which emulates a traditional Advent calendar, except with a beauty product behind each door — including a sneak peek of an eye cream that Tilbury won’t launch until next January. The offering is rounded out with a limited-edition holiday makeup bag that Tilbury produces each year, because, in her words, “I find it nearly impossible to find a cosmetics bag. There’s Prada, Prada and Prada. This one’s covered in celebrity kisses [and because of] that I’m not allowed to say who they are. I’d have to pay them a fortune to use their names, so we’ve agreed, you give me your kiss, and I won’t mention your name.”