Backlash for Illamasqua’s #ImDreamingOf Campaign

Curious new ads for Illamasqua’s #ImDreamingOf holiday campaign has aroused some heated discussion over the UK brand’s allegedly racist intentions.

One should assume from the first ad, the model is *not* dreaming of a white Christmas because she’s got some sexy red lipstick and rouge to make her holidays rosy… but the second?

The second photo is similar in that it has colorful makeup brightening up a blank palette, but the all black paint, pink lips, and bowtie/top hat has been turning some heads. Many have pointed out that her lip shape has changed as well. Discussions on makeup forums and Facebook have revolved around whether the photos are clearly intended to be artistic, and some have noted that while the first photo has the model painted in all white, the problem is that the implications are not symmetrical.

Personally, I don’t think it’s deliberately racist. But considering that Illamasqua has been known for its attempts to shock in the past (i.e. naming its creamy white nail varnish “Load”), I have a hard time believing they were so naive to think this wouldn’t cause any controversy. What do you think?

Illamasqua released a statement on their Facebook page around 4:20 EST

Illamasqua is an independent British colour cosmetics brand founded on the principles of fairness, self-expression and delivering customers professional quality make-up. We embrace the diversity of humanity and feature people of all colours, ages and genders in our campaigns.  

Today, illamasqua has received some negative attention on our Australian Facebook page in regard to one particular image from our Christmas 2012 campaign launched earlier this month. It features a model theatrically painted white juxtaposed to the same model painted black. The model painted black has been interpreted by some as “black face.” This was certainly not our intention nor inspiration. 

Given that our objective with this imagery was to be playful, striking and fresh with the creation of mirror images in white and black, using colour ON the skin it is very saddening that those making negative comments are focusing on colour OF the skin. The colour of the skin didn’t come into it at the time we created the imagery so we are shocked by the cynicism behind some of the comments. 

The Huffington Post wrote about our campaign yesterday and a lot of the comments were very positive…

“Super dark girls look great… As such if a woman who knows this wants to achieve that sort of look, it’s cool … She can wear darkening make-up… It’s her body (as the feminists love to say) … I say, go for it!”

“Oh come on, this isn’t racist. I’m a black woman saying this. It’s obvious this is art. There’s more than enough real racism in this country to deal with without attacking legitimate art” 

We have already issued the following statement on our Australian Facebook page:

“We thank and acknowledge your comments regarding the Christmas imagery. Obviously it was never our intention to cause offence; Illamasqua has always celebrated the right to self-expression and we continually push creative and artistic boundaries, priding ourselves on working with models of many ethnic backgrounds to reinforce this point. We emphasise that this campaign is about colour ON the skin not colour OF the skin, depicting polarity between the two images (both images are the same model) not race.”

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