On the morning after the Oscars in late February, British makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury leaned forward on a couch in a Chateau Marmont hotel suite, lowering her voice as she revealed her latest fascination.
“I’m obsessed with actually a very Hollywood moment, when women used to take compacts out of their bags and do their makeup,” she said, spilling gold lipstick cases decorated with black panthers, leopard spots, black sun rays and shooting stars onto the dark green upholstery. “[It’s this] kind of very magical packaging, which I love,” she said, her velvety voice stretching the last word into a purr. “So [I’m] kind of bringing that bygone era back.”
In her first U.S. store, which had its official grand opening at the Grove on June 27, Tilbury is showing how she’s combined many of her obsessions, including Old Hollywood, red-carpet beauty and mysticism, into a growing global business. Following a monthlong pop-up shop in 2017, which the Grove described as one of its most successful to date, her 6-year-old London-based brand is transforming a 1,666-square-foot space into what Tilbury dubbed “retail theater,” complete with beveled mirrors and copper chandeliers shaped like palm trees.
There’s a beauty boudoir in the back, decorated with Art Deco-style cosmetic stations and a circular burgundy velvet banquette. In the main area, lipstick statues serve as selfie backdrops, and a so-called “magic mirror” powered by artificial intelligence can recognize a person’s face shape and apply virtual makeup with the click of a button. One table is inscribed with a message urging customers to “come and play with me, darling!”
“They’re entering into my world. I’m making it fun,” Tilbury said at the Chateau Marmont, wearing a navy mini-dress cinched by a belt with a sparkly buckle as well as a boho-style turquoise scarf. Effusing grit, glamour and positive thinking, the 46-year-old comes across as a redhead hybrid of Brené Brown, Auntie Mame and Stevie Nicks.
Tilbury is accustomed to women with big personalities. Her childhood bedroom in Ibiza, Spain, was plastered with posters of Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo and Lauren Bacall. Her high-profile clients include human rights lawyer Amal Clooney (for last year’s Met Gala), model Kate Moss (on her wedding day) and “American Horror Story” actress Emma Roberts (for Vanity Fair’s most recent Oscars party).
“Sparkly Old Hollywood glamour” was the vibe that stylist Brit Smith wanted to create when she and her sister/styling partner, Kara, selected the sheer Yanina Couture gown for Roberts. “Emma was like, ‘Oh my God, Charlotte would be perfect for this.’”
Kara Smith added, “She’s like a makeup fairy godmother.”
For Hot Lips 2, the new lipstick collection packaged in glitzy cases and launched in conjunction with the Grove store opening, Tilbury pays homage to 11 men and women who have inspired her, ranging from her own mother to actress Sofia Vergara. A tawny rose shade with a subtle shine is named “Glowing Jen” after actress Jennifer Aniston because “she is the epitome of gorgeous glow,” Tilbury said.
Professing a love for magic, Tilbury also shares a special bond with “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, who has inspired a peachy nude hue called “JK Magic.” “[Rowling] actually takes my makeup and does makeup on people,’” Tilbury said. “She would joke to me, ‘I’m like your Avon lady.’”
All the celebrities involved in the Hot Lips 2 collections have given their approval for Tilbury to create lipsticks in homage to them as part of a fundraising drive, according to a brand representative. Tilbury has pledged to donate 1 million pounds (approximately $1.25 million at current exchange rates) from the sales of the new range, which retails for $37 a tube, to Women for Women International, a charity that helps women in war-torn countries.
Through her beauty line, Tilbury aims to empower others.
“Life is a red carpet,” she said. “The minute you walk out your door, you should feel empowered and confident and the most beautiful you.”