There are few people in the beauty business known enough to get away with using just their first name. Two of them, brow guru and brand founder Anastasia Soare and makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic, came together for an eye shadow palette that’s demonstrated the power of their combined monikers prior to hitting stores. Released on Anastasia Beverly Hills’ web site last Thursday, 50,000 units — or $2.25 million worth at the price of $45 — were snapped up within hours. Cued up for a stellar run at retail, the palette landed online Tuesday at Macy’s, Sephora and Ulta Beauty, and will roll out to brick-and-mortar locations on Oct. 15.
“The amount that they ordered is astronomical,” said Dedivanovic, speaking to WWD preceding the launch of the palette. “They are expected to sell out very quickly. They are saying the demand is really huge, and the stores are really excited about it. Honestly, I have no idea how it will go because I’ve never done a collaboration before. I am going with the flow.”
Whatever Dedivanovic is doing, it’s turning out fabulously so far. The creator of Kim Kardashian West’s oft-emulated looks, Dedivanovic initially aligned with Anastasia Beverly Hills as a global ambassador in 2014. “It was a great fit for me. I liked her [Soare] philosophy, and she had a big social-media following, and I was attracted to that as well,” said Dedivanovic, who has 2.7 million followers on Instagram. “I could still work for other brands. I refuse to do an exclusive contract with anyone because it’s not genuine to me. I am never going to use one brand in my life. That was a big factor in why I chose a contract with them.”
With his contract ending last year, the brand suggested Dedivanovic stay connected to it by partnering on a palette, its only with a professional makeup artist. “We felt that we could really deliver authentically on his aesthetic and style — and we like him, that helps,” said Claudia Soare, president of Anastasia Beverly Hills and Anastasia’s daughter. “He beautifully layer colors together. He calls it watercolor. He is a master at working with neutrals and soft colors to bring out a sexy, smoldering eye that wears throughout the day because it is water colored and not so structured. The concept is very high-end on one hand and, on the other hand, it is easy to replicate by everyday consumers.”
The process of encapsulating Dedivanovic’s approach in a palette began with Soare providing the makeup artist with roughly 50 shades, a figure that, through extensive testing and thought, was whittled down to a dozen neutral and jewel-toned shades in matte and metallic finishes. “We wanted to have his must-haves, the shades he always gravitates to. I wanted to make it about Mario, not hand him a palette I think he should have,” Soare detailed. Dedivanovic said, “I literally rejected textures 20 times or more, and then started narrowing down the shades. It took a year. It took a lot longer than it was supposed to take because I rejected the palette so many times.”
The eye shadows Dedivanovic eventually approved were formulated to be intensely creamy. “Mario is not a fan of glitter. He likes a silky, satiny texture that can be layered well and not look chalky. These are colors that, the grungier they get, the better they are going to look. Ten, 12 hours into wearing them, they will look really great,” explained Soare. “He wants to make sure his clients look good for many hours.”
The palette, which is a collection of shades named for pivotal women in Dedivanovic’s life and places meaningful to him, including the tan titled Kim, the slate labeled Claudia, the wheat gold dubbed Hollywood and the rose gold Muse, eschews bright pops of pigment. “He was a little bit panicked about whether it needed more pop, but I said, ‘Don’t worry about pleasing people. Do what you feel is best.’ And that’s what he did,” Soare recounted. Dedivanovic said, “It’s very representative of me. It’s the colors that I use in most of my work, especially in my celebrity work. It has amazing textures, and it is very different from any other palette. It’s nothing crazy. It’s just pretty makeup that every girl can wear.”
The palette’s entrance into Sephora in particular marks a significant milestone for Dedivanovic. The beauty specialty retailer laid the foundation for his career. Following high school, Dedivanovic was looking for a job and walked into the former Sephora store at Rockefeller Center. “I just got this overwhelming desire. This is where I wanted to work. I knew nothing about the store. I just saw the skin care, fragrances and cosmetics, and I applied. I never got a call back,” he remembered. “I found the number for the head of Sephora in France. She picked up the phone, and I said, ‘My name is Mario. I really want to work for your company.’” That unsolicited phone call led to Dedivanovic becoming a fragrance consultant at the Sephora on Fifth Avenue, a position that introduced him to makeup as an occupation.
Dedivanovic went on to freelance and assist makeup artists the likes of Kabuki. Early on, he realized his strength was perfecting flawless, glamorous faces, and he understood celebrities could be his ticket to the big time. “I assisted a lot of makeup artists, but they had a very different style from me, especially Kabuki who did fantasy makeup and is a genius. I knew I wanted to gear to the celebrity side. I was being realistic, and I knew there are only a handful that are really successful in that [fashion] world, and I had so much drive,” Dedivanovic said. He has since prettified an extensive list of high-wattage clients, notably Kardashian West, Michelle Williams, Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera and Kate Bosworth.
Makeup wasn’t a field Dedivanovic’s immigrant parents, now fully supportive of his choice, envisioned for their son. “They came to this country so we could go to college and become engineers, doctors or lawyers. I initially hid it from them. I put my brushes and makeup in shoe boxes at home. One day, my eldest sister found them, and there was this big family meeting, and I broke down. I told them that I’m a makeup artist. It was dramatic. You have to understand that, for Albanian immigrant parents, their son wanting to be a makeup artist, that was crazy,” Dedivanovic said. “I told them, ‘This is what I love and what I want to do,’ and they said, ‘Please don’t do this.’ It was really hard. That’s what really drove me and gave me determination to be successful.”
Unabashedly ambitious, Dedivanovic, 34, is fond of writing his goals such as getting an agent (it happened when he was 21), nabbing a magazine cover (he met Kardashian West on a shoot for the cover of the magazine Social Life in 2008), securing an advertising campaign (Head & Shoulders hired him in 2009), collaborating with a brand (thank you, Anastasia Beverly Hills), teaching classes (Dedivanovic initiated his popular makeup sessions around seven years ago) and founding his own brand in a book. “I feel I’m just getting started,” he said. “I would love to have a global brand. That’s one of my main goals, and I want to expand my classes into makeup schools. I want makeup schools with real makeup training in major cities around the world.”
Anastasia Beverly Hills doesn’t have to be concerned that Dedivanovic’s future brand would be a competitor. The makeup brand he is intent on developing wouldn’t play in the prestige segment where Anastasia Beverly Hills sits. “I could start a small brand tomorrow or do a palette myself, but it has always been my dream since I was in my early 20s to have an affordable brand. I want to create products that are great, and that you don’t have to pay $40 to $50 for a blush to get. I want to create a blush that is $10 that is as amazing as a $50 blush,” he said. “The people who come to my classes are aspiring makeup artists, and they can’t afford expensive products. It is important for me to be able to create products for them.”