Icona Pop has something new to belt “I Love It” about.
Along with their makeup artist Colby Smith, Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo, members of the Swedish duo who erupted onto the American music scene when their song fueled Lena Dunham’s character Hannah Horvath’s drug-induced dance frenzy during the second season of “Girls,” teamed with Make Up For Ever to showcase the power of the brand’s 45-item Artist Rouge lipstick collection and collaborate on two limited-edition shades for the collection. Beyond the products, the partnership extends to performances, including one Thursday night at Siren Orange in Los Angeles to celebrate it, and a video featuring the song “Emergency” to promote the launch.
“The whole campaign is about being bold, and there’s no one greater to front it than two crazy Swedes who jump, sweat and get gross on stage and just scream, ‘I Love It,’ and this is an ‘Emergency,’” said Smith. “The cool thing about the brand using them is they weren’t like, ‘Let’s get them, but make them models. Let’s make them coat hangers and do whatever we want on them.’ They literally let us create the world. When it came to the campaign, that was all us. They approved it, obviously, but, when I was like, ‘We really want to do a cool winged-liner,’ they were like, ‘Great, let’s do it.’”
The participation of the makeup artist in a brand partnership with pop stars is unusual, and demonstrates Make Up For Ever’s commitment to beauty professionals. “Every once in a while you might see it with another brand, but it is only because the person involved is a full diva and refuses to work with anyone else, but, with them, it was an open invitation to join the tribe,” said Smith, adding that, upon discovering he would join forces with the brand, “I cried and called my mom. It was such an honor. It is a brand I have always used and loved. I was always expecting some cheapie brand no one has ever heard of.”
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Throughout the course of his three years as makeup artist for Icona Pop, Smith has repeatedly applied Make Up For Ever’s products to Hjelt’s and Jawo’s faces, giving them a level of comfort with the brand that helped convince them to associate with it. Starting in Sweden, Hjelt said, “We just played dirty clubs. It was about smooshing some eyeliner on, and we were ready to go. Later on, when we did press, and there were a lot of lights, we really felt it [makeup] made a difference. It was you [Smith] that told us about Make Up For Ever, and we were like, ‘Oh, it’s really cool.’ It would be hard to do something with a brand we didn’t know or couldn’t talk about or relate to.”
For their lipstick shades in the Artist Rouge collection, Hjelt opted for a matte red, and Jawo selected a creamy navy. “I have loved dark shades my whole life,” said Jawo, explaining the deep blue choice. Hjelt chimed in, “If you want to look cool, bold and just feel edgy, put that on with just mascara, and you are done. It’s like putting on a pair of sunglasses to look cool.” Of her red lipstick, Hjelt said, the shade “goes so well with everything. If I don’t have any makeup on, and I put on a red lip, I’m ready to go. Also, if I have a lot of [makeup on the] eyes, and I have a red lip, I feel even sexier.”
The Artist Rouge lipstick collection replaces Make Up For Ever’s Rouge Artist Intense range and bests the pigmentation in the previous range by 25 percent. Priced at $22 each, ingredients in the Artist Rouge shades, specifically macademia oil, sunflower seed wax, carnauba and microcrystalline wax, boost longevity and moisture. The lipsticks are available at 400 Sephora doors and five Make Up For Ever boutiques in the U.S. “Your lips don’t get dry. That’s always been my problem. At the end of the night, you can’t move your lips, but we love these,” said Jawo.
Hjelt and Jawo aren’t afraid to wear lipstick colors spanning the spectrum. In last year’s music video for “Emergency,” Smith estimated he slathered their lips in at least 12 shades to produce ombré effects and lipstick looks that appeared to incorporate lip liners, but didn’t. “I really wanted you to see that you can do an ombré lip with two lipsticks. You don’t have to use a pencil and a lipstick. You can really mix-and-match all of the lipstick colors,” said Smith. On stage, Hjelt continued, “That’s where we play and express ourselves. It’s usually much more than in everyday life. We don’t have to think about let’s do a lip or an eye. We can do a lip and an eye. We couldn’t survive on stage without eyeliner and good lipstick.”
Off stage, Icona Pop is toiling in a Los Angeles studio to finish a third album. “It’s been a journey. We’ve been writing this album for three years. After ‘I Love It,’ it was chaos. We have developed a lot as artists and needed to get back in the studio again. Now, we are like, ‘What do we want to do?’ We want to do a pop album that doesn’t sound like everything else on the radio,” said Jawo. Hjelt offered, “We want to share the story of where we are now.”
Jawo and Hjelt have a slew of goals outside of completing the album. They are open to further collaborations with musicians and brands, hope to embark on a world tour and aren’t averse to Hollywood. Jawo and Hjelt play the fashionable trolls Satin and Chenille in the animated film, “Trolls,” slated for a November release. “We usually write down everything so we don’t forget, and the list of things we want to do is endless,” said Hjelt. “When you are in studio mode, you are very much in studio mode, but, once we get out there, there is no stopping us.”