Friday, September 5, 2014

The Wait is Over // Beautylish Charlotte Tilbury Preview Party

For the beauty-obsessed in the United States, this week marked another British Invasion as Charlotte Tilbury, British makeup artist to the stars, officially launched her cosmetics brand stateside. Now celebrating its 1-year anniversary after launching in the UK last year, the brand was previously only available to US customers via the internet through UK-based retailers. In the year since the brand launched, the products have risen to cult-status for American beauty lovers eager to get their hands on the elusive products. On September 2nd, the wait was over. Those crimson-and-rose-gold compacts can now be purchased with our hard-earned greenbacks, no conversion required. The wait was worth it!
My dog with Charlotte Tilbury preview postcard.
She's thrilled.

Yesterday, San Francisco-based retailer Beautylish held their Charlotte Tilbury preview party. Like many other attendees, this was the first time I've ever seen a Charlotte Tilbury product in person. This was also the first time I have taken part in a launch party for a luxury cosmetics brand, an opportunity that doesn't present itself often. To put it into context, the last time the beauty world has seen the birth of a brand of this magnitude was the launch of Kevyn Aucoin's line in 2001. Though he passed in 2002, his brand lived on and his products are still coveted by makeup lovers the world over. To attend a launch party for a brand that is sure to remain iconic for years to come felt like taking part in beauty history.
Charlotte Tilbury products on table.
Beautylish director's chair.
Fittingly, Tilbury's inspiration for her product packaging came from the past: "I was inspired by the cigarette cases of the 1920s, the beautiful cut-glass perfume bottles of the 1950s and the timeless allure of Paloma Picasso's lipstick." (Source) What resulted was a line of products so beautifully packaged, it felt like being at an exhibit showcasing vintage beauty products. With crimson boxes with rose gold trim, lipsticks in metal tubes, and the line's pièce de résistance - a compact made to resemble an art deco cigarette case, Tilbury isn't just selling makeup. She's resurrecting the glamour and allure of an era. Perhaps that's why one of her collections (sadly, still only available through the UK site) is called "The Future Vintage", a "great investment in future vintage beauty pieces".
Charlotte Tilbury products
Close up of vintage inspired lipstick case
Close up of chandelier, Clift Hotel
Charlotte Tilbury products
For as much as I can wax poetic about packaging, beauty is, after all, on the inside. What's on the inside of these compacts definitely counts. While I wait for the products I ordered online to arrive, the party was an opportunity for me to try...what I've already bought. (Makeup lover logic.) And for reasons I can't explain (the intoxicating packaging? the cheeky color names?) I've found myself attracted to products in the range that I normally overlook: blushes and highlighters. I have a reasonably tame amount of blushes (a handful) and highlighters (ONE!) in my collection. "It's because I flush so easily," I whined to the makeup artist, Trish, about my face's pale-or-overflushed appearance. She immediately reached for the Cheek to Chic blush in "First Love". A peachy-brown shade with no pink undertones, it will lift and add light when my face is pale, and counteract redness when I flush. And though I've only experienced it once, it blended like a dream. I've already ordered 2 other cheek products from the lineup, but "First Love" is shooting straight to the top of the wish list. I have a feeling that my long-neglected cheekbones are going to be getting the full Tilbury on a regular basis!

Using my powers of logic once more, I headed to the bar immediately after having my face done. Beautylish knows my idea of a good time: makeup, champagne, and desserts. While I reasoned that the blush would probably do a great job of counteracting champagne flush, I would probably have to touch up the lipstick after smearing my lips on a champagne flute and nibbling macaroons. Because cookie eating is part of my daily routine, I've resorted to having to touch up my lipstick regularly. I don't mind, but I also don't put much stock in lip liners or long wear claims. To my amazement, the lip look held up through my dessert table pillaging. (In fact, the swatches I drew on my hand yesterday with the "Lip Cheat" lip liner -though slightly faded- are still there.) Any lip product that can stand up to me hoovering a cupcake deserves to come home with me.
Cupcake, macaroons
Macaroons, lemon tarts
Chocolate torte
Bar area, view of San Francisco
Conveniently, the party was held near Beautylish headquarters at the Clift Hotel which meant that orders could be placed on site and delivered into our hot little hands. While the blush I wanted was already sold out, the lip liner had just been restocked and was available for me to take home. In fact, it was hand-delivered to me by Nils, a Beautylish co-founder, in a beautiful shopping bag with a handwritten note thanking me for my order. This kind of service isn't just reserved for parties, mind you. My orders have always been accompanied by a handwritten note and are always beautifully wrapped. This level of service was especially nice when I ordered myself the Wayne Goss brush set last Christmas and shipped it to my mom's house (which is why my thank you note says "Gail") so that I could open it on Christmas morning. It arrived so beautifully wrapped that I felt like I was truly gifting myself. When the UPS man drops off a box at my house, it feels like Christmas. When it's a box from Beautylish, it feels like Christmas morning. Beautylish has mastered bringing the boutique experience to your doorstep.
Beautylish packaging, handwritten note
Lip Cheat lip liner in Pillow Talk

Beautylish has been dubbed a "social commerce" site that acts as both a social media platform and an e-tailer. At the preview party, they created an atmosphere in which we could experience the products and communicate with other like-minded individuals about our thoughts on the line. By the end of the evening, most of the attendees were on a first-name basis with each other. Many of us remarked that we couldn't believe we'd stayed the whole allotted time, but we had bonded over the products and our mutual interest in cosmetics. Some had recognized each other from previous product launches. This is the genius of Beautylish; socializing, even with friends we just met an hour ago, has a strong influence on our purchases. We convinced one woman that she should definitely get the red lipstick she couldn't take her eyes off of, despite the fact that her husband doesn't like red lipstick. The positive experience I had in testing the lip products as well as the positive response I got from other women about my look convinced me that the lip liner might actually be worth its salt. But perhaps my favorite moment of the evening was co-founder Nils, a self-professed brush junkie, held court around the Charlotte Tilbury brush line as we pawed at the soft bristles. Brush-loving is a whole separate level of makeup fanaticism, and in that circle I found my people.
Preview party and guests
In her 20+ year career, Charlotte Tilbury has become an industry favorite, working with the likes of Penelope Cruz, Gisele Bündchen, Rihanna, and Kate Moss. But yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting and mingling with real-life product lovers who had been waiting with bated breath for as long as I have to try her beautiful products. In addition to having the opportunity to see firsthand the birth of a brand, we also had the rare chance to experience social commerce in the flesh. The essence of what Beautylish is as a brand was brought offline and made tangible at the Charlotte Tilbury preview party, and I was honored to be a part of it.

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