Charlotte Tilbury, Britain’s Favorite Lipstick Mogul, Is Invading Los Angeles (#GotBitcoin?)
Charlotte Tilbury is beloved in her native England for her madcap persona and famous friends—whom, like author J.K. Rowling (a “peachy nude-rose”), she names lipsticks after. For her next act: Los Angeles. Charlotte Tilbury, Britain’s Favorite Lipstick Mogul, Is Invading Los Angeles (#GotBitcoin?)
At 10:30 a.m., Charlotte Tilbury is in full whirlwind mode. The 46-year-old makeup artist and entrepreneur sweeps into her New York office wearing a slinky black dress and towering heels, her long copper hair teased and eyeshadow smoked, dishing out greetings, compliments and big, throaty laughs.
“It’s something to do with having red hair, I don’t know,” Tilbury says, when I ask where her energy comes from. “I went out until 5 o’clock in the morning [after the Met Gala] and partied, had a really great time, but then I get up four hours later, and—I just get so high off that. I wake up the next day even more full of energy.”
Born in London and raised in Ibiza, Tilbury has been a fixture in fashion and Hollywood for nearly three decades. She’s worked on, in her estimation, “a couple hundred covers of Vogue [worldwide],” and created red-carpet looks for stars including Kate Moss, Salma Hayek and Amal Clooney. As top makeup artists often do, Tilbury consulted for a number of cosmetics brands over the years, but in 2013 she struck out on her own with a self-named skin care and makeup line.
Next week, Tilbury will open her first standalone U.S. store at The Grove, an upscale shopping center in Los Angeles. Tilbury sees the location, selected for its significant foot traffic, as an opportunity to bring “retail theater” to her American customers. That experience includes a “virtual mirror” that uses artificial intelligence to offer personalized makeup recommendations to customers, makeup and compact engraving services and a bar showcasing the brand’s “10 iconic looks” kits, each of which comes with a full range of products for creating a specific makeup style (“The Golden Goddess” or “The Rock Chick,” for example).
Tilbury’s Hollywood connections are what drew her to open a store in L.A., home of the red carpet. She doesn’t remember when she first started doing jobs there — it’s been a hub of hers for so long, for magazine shoots, advertising campaigns and red carpet work. She eventually, gave up working backstage at Paris Fashion Week because it conflicted with the Oscars.
When her cosmetics line debuted exclusively at Selfridges in London in September of 2013, it reached sales of $98,188 on its first day, according to the brand, making it the store’s biggest beauty launch ever at the time. It now offers shipping to more than 67 countries via online sales, with hundreds of department store counters and Sephora locations around the world and seven standalone stores in London and the Middle East. In a public filing, the privately held company disclosed revenue of £75.5 million for 2017, up from £53.9 million the year prior. In early May, WWD reported that the company had been in talks with Estée Lauder , but that the deal had fallen through because the beauty giant wasn’t willing to meet a sale price of $1.4 billion. Tilbury’s spokesman declined to provide comment on the acquisition rumors for this story; a spokeswoman for Estée Lauder said that the company does not comment on rumors.
Tilbury’s first product was Charlotte’s Magic Cream, $64 for 1 oz, a moisturizer that she’d been producing and using for fashion shows, red carpet work, and photo shoots for years; it’s also the brand’s best-seller. Hollywood Flawless Filter ($44), a highlighter-slash-primer, was designed to give the face a soft-focus look that could withstand the scrutiny of the lens of an HDTV camera. More recently, in 2018, she launched her Magic Away Concealer ($32).
“That product took me 20 years,” Tilbury says. “I was always trying to create that concealer, and I was just never happy…So when I launched my line, I launched without [it]. People would say to me all the time, ‘You’re missing so much money,’ but I was like, nope. If I can’t better what’s out there, I’d rather not do it.”
On June 20, she introduces a second collection of lipsticks to benefit the humanitarian organization Women for Women International, to which the company is pledging £1 million. Its shades are inspired by famous men and women like Susan Sarandon (an orangey red), J.K. Rowling (a pinky nude), Kylie Minogue (a pearlescent rose) and Amal Clooney (a slightly plummy pink). Tilbury emphasizes that the lipsticks are inspired by these celebrities, with their consent and varying degrees of collaboration, a spokeswoman later added.
On May 8, actress and model Brooke Shields filed a complaint in Los Angeles county Superior Court, against Charlotte Tilbury Beauty, Inc. and several retailers carrying the brand over an eyebrow pencil shade called “Brooke S.” According to the complaint, the name of the shade “falsely suggests it is endorsed by Shields and undoubtedly attracts consumers hoping to emulate her signature look.” Shields’s attorney, Alex Weingarten of Venable LLP said in a statement to WSJ., “This is an egregious violation of Brooke’s rights, which we will litigate vigorously to vindicate.” A spokeswoman for Charlotte Tilbury declined to comment on the suit.
In her marketing and in real life, Tilbury, who is married with two children, is constantly selling glamour. One recent Instagram Story to her 2.8 million followers, opened with, “Darlings, I’m in gay Paree!” (She begins many of her posts with that term of endearment.) She told WSJ. in 2014, that she goes to bed wearing eye makeup, and her husband, or any man for that matter, has never seen her without it. Charlotte Tilbury, Britain’s Favorite,Charlotte Tilbury, Britain’s Favorite,Charlotte Tilbury, Britain’s Favorite,
She says, “I believe makeup is magic.”