Saturday, 30 April 2011

Addiction Creative Director Ayako Interview Part 2

Here's the translation of the second part of MSN Japan Beauty Style's interview with Addiction Creative Director Ayako. The interview was conducted by Mayumi Toura, former editor of Marie Claire (Japan) and now Beauty Director at MSN Japan. The interview was conducted on 14 March, just a few days after the tsunami disaster.

Q: At our first meeting, your base makeup application left a great impression on me. What was particularly attractive was your way of "creating the skin", which I experienced when using Addiction's base makeup.

A: For me, the key is still about creating the skin. Base makeup should help to bring out the inner glow of skin. While this is sometimes influenced by trends, foundation should not conceal the skin more than necessary. Skin imperfections like pigmentation can be covered up by concealer. The key to a polished makeup look is to have beautiful base makeup.

Q: I agree! When I first used Addiction's Tinted Moisturizer and Primer, it reminded me of the time I first saw your work at a photo shoot. I was impressed that the products made it so easy to achieve that bare skin-like nude makeup look that I had seen at that shoot.

A: I'm happy that you felt that way. I created Addiction because I wanted to make it easy for any woman to create that look of beautiful skin. Without that, there's no meaning in creating a brand. I'm frequently asked what is the main product of Addiction? Naturally, it's the Tinted Moisturizer that is the important product.

Q: For my base makeup today, I'm using those three products. How is it? I really like the textures. I've been carrying the black Eyeliner Pencil in my makeup pouch all the time. I can't do without it!

A: That's an honour. The Eyeliner Pencil is a product that I'm also very proud of as it has a unique texture and feel.

Q: It's really easy to use. It's soft but it can draw a sharp line and it does not smudge. For hooded double lids like mine, it's important to have a pencil type that is easy to use and doesn't give one "panda eyes". What is a special feature of the brand?

A: When creating the base makeup line, I thought it would be perfect if the products helped busy women to create a professional look effortlessly, even without using a mirror. Hence, for the foundation, I decided on a flesh-toned fluid tinted moisturizer that is very easy to use. For covering up skin troubles, that can be done through concealer. Hence, the line had only one type of foundation but three types of foundation.

Q: I understand that now.

A: Many Japanese women are probably used to creating a base with complete coverage and so when they are first introduced to our Tinted Moisturizer, they may think that it does not provide sufficient coverage. We have to teach them how to use the concealers properly. That's definitely the easy way to create a pretty look.

Q: Addiction is created from the perspective of a makeup professional but the products are also highly practical as the brand understands the needs of women. That makes it a unique brand.

A: That's why I created the brand. Skin imperfections can be covered by concealer and hence one only needs a sheer layer of foundation. When you need to touch up later, you can use the convenient pen-type concealer. Addiction is a collection of products that I've used and liked.

Q: Are the brand's bestsellers the same as what you had expected? How do you deal with a world dominated by marketing?

A: Like you say, there have been many times when I've had to "re-set" my way of thinking! The bestsellers were not always what I had predicted. This time, I created a powder foundation, which is a product that is a necessity in the Japanese market. But I wanted it to live up to the same high standard as the Tinted Moisturizer. I started by thinking about the times in which I used powder foundation. What's special about the Glow Powder Foundation is that despite being a powder, it gives a glowy finish. It also makes it very easy to achieve a polished appearance. I like the Glow Powder Foundation just as much as the Tinted Moisturizer. And indeed, the Glow Powder Foundation sold very well! That made me very happy.

Q: That's a good collaboration with the company.

A: For example, Addiction has a red Eyeliner Pencil. It's not something that would sell very well but having that shade was necessary as a representation of a brand that I had created as a makeup artist. I'm gratified by this collaboration with Kose as they could understand that.

Q: You could create great products as there is a sense of respect. And the line does have some edgy shades.

A: Of course there are differences occasionally. (laughs)

Q: There are always necessary battles as it is a creative job and also a business. I've often encountered that myself.

A: If you don't fight for it, it's not possible to create a brand or one's own vision. There were times when I thought I would be disliked.

Q: I see. You've worked with many celebrities. Are there shades that you think would be suitable for different women?

A: Of course! Addiction is a brand that allows one to find the shades that are most suitable for oneself. It is a brand that makes you think, "If I go there, I can find shades that suit me", as it has a wealth of basic shades. When I was creating the eyeshadows, I wanted to start with ten shades each of white, beige, brown and black. When the brand debuted, it had six shades of each. Given the wide range of basic shades, any woman would be able to find shades that were suitable for her. Pink, blue and green shades could be released as trend colours. I wanted to return to the basics and create a complete line-up of basic colours.

Q: So you saw Addiction as a brand that could offer women anywhere in the world the chance to discover shades that were suitable for themselves.

A: Yes, that can be 10 shades, 20 or even 30! It's not just for celebrities but anyone of any age... For example, I wanted women to feel like if they go to Addiction, they will definitely be able to find a beige shade that they wanted. It's a brand that can meet the needs of different women. Anyone can pull off a red lip like Scarlett Johansson, or look sexy, elegant, carefree.

Q: That's very persuasive! It's not a brand that geared towards celebrities but rather towards helping all women look beautiful.

A: The message that I want to convey is that through Addiction, anyone can easily use makeup to look beautiful. The brand's target is "jetsetter". When I think of that, I think of women who lead very active lives and who want to look good effortlessly as they are people who want to use their time efficiently. For example, women who travel a lot for work, or students who have to study and work part-time, or busy mothers who have to look after young children. I wanted to create products that made it easier and quicker for such women to look good. To be honest, I'm not that interested in increasing the shade line-up and focusing on new shades.

Q: Is the Cheek Stick something that you just need one of it? It is shaped like a lipstick but can be used on both the cheeks and the lips.

A: When working on photo shoots, I often use lipsticks on the cheeks. Hence, I did not like lipsticks that were scented, too glossy or fade easily. As the name suggests, Cheek Stick is a blush in the form of a lipstick. Blush gives one's face an instant lift and makes one look more feminine.

Q: Instead of carrying a lipstick, just having one Cheek Stick is better as it can be used on both the cheeks and the lips.

A: That's right! It is designed to be used on not just the cheeks, but also the lips and the eyes.

Q: There have been stick products that could be used on both the cheeks and the lips but this may be the first time that a product can also be used on the eyes, cheeks and lips. Putting it in a lipstick form also makes it feel more womanly.

A: Hence, we decided to make the packaging fuschia pink so that it would not be mistaken for the lipstick.

Q: The shade line up is new and lovely!

A: The theme of the Cheek Stock collection is "Rose Bar". At that time, I went to a hotel that I liked in Miami with my dog. A friend was trying to think of an orange-themed name and I suggested "pumpkin". That day, a friend invited me to go to the beach. We were supposed to meet in a bar. We were talking about colours and suddenly I noticed that the bar's name was "Rose Bar". At that time I thought one can choose from many wines at a bar and similarly at a nail bar. A bar connotes the image of a line-up of shades that one can select from. Since blushes are rose toned, I decided on the name "Rose Bar" for the collection.

Q: I can picture that!

A: The Cheek Stick is a very convenient product to have in one's clutch. I'd like to continue creating products that can be used in different situations.

Q: You mean products that are useful for different situations in women's lives?

A: Yes. For example, the amenities in hotels usually have a very masculine feel. It would be nice to create amenities for women.

Q: Like a balm that could be used anywhere would be good.

A: Yes, like that would be something that you could take on a plane. The kits on board airplanes tend to be geared towards men.

Q: I look forward to your future creations for women.

A: Yes, I will work hard! There is still some way to go from achieving what was in my original proposal for the brand.

Q: You mean Addiction is still in the process of being developed?

A: Yes, it is still on the development path.

Q: What will you be doing next?

A: That is a secret but I hope you will look forward to it.

Q: We'll end here. I hope to be able to chat with you again in the future. Thank you for spending time with us amidst the aftershocks.

(You can read Part 1 here).

Friday, 29 April 2011

RMK Makeup Workshop at Takashimaya

RMK is holding a series of 2-hour hands-on makeup workshops at Takashimaya from Friday 13 May to Sunday 15 May. A Japanese makeup artist, Mr Kosuke Wada, will be conducting the workshop and showing techniques for creating a radiant complexion and how to use the new summer makeup collection.

The registration fee is $100 and is fully redeemable for products. Aside from the door gift, ladies who make the prepaid registration by Sunday 8 May will also receive a Brightening Jelly Sheet Mask worth $16. You can register for the workshop by calling the Takashimaya counter at 6238-8043 or through

As RMK is renowned for its base makeup, I'm looking forward to seeing how Mr Wada uses the new Pressed Powder N and Smoothing Polished Base.

Uniqlo Cath Kidston T-shirts Haul at Vivocity

Uniqlo opened its fourth store in Singapore today at Vivocity. The new store is in the unit formerly occupied by River Island, next to Adidas.

It appears to have gotten off to a roaring start, thanks to the popularity of the UT collaboration T-shirts with Cath Kidston, Cacharel, Disney, One Piece etc. There is also a new Corporate Collection of T-shirts with beauty brands like Kate, Lavshuca, Canmake, Bourjois, OPI, Maybelline and Revlon. Everywhere my friend and I went in the mall, we saw people carrying Uniqlo shopping bags featuring either Cath Kidston, One Piece, Barbie or the Care Bears. (The Care Bears collection isn't in yet.)

All the Cath Kidston T-shirt designs are available in Singapore. However, it looks like the shirts and tunics are only available at the 313@Somerset store. The T-shirts are available in S, M, L and XL. The S fits me perfectly.

Here's what I came home with!

As an opening special, the T-shirts are on sale at just S$19.90 at the Vivocity store until 19 May. The normal retail price is S$24.90. The Cath Kidston collection is also available at other Uniqlo stores like Ion Orchard which is also selling the Ts at S$19.90. Considering that Cath Kidston's own T-shirts usually retail for around £25, the Uniqlo collection is much more affordable in comparison.

The T-shirts are made of 100% cotton and feel very soft. I love UT T-shirts like my Paul & Joe ones as they are very comfortable and last well.

The collection benefits a safe motherhood programme in Zambia.

With every two Cath Kidston T-shirts purchased, you get a Cath Kidston paper fan free. There are about 5 designs available. The fans come sealed in opaque sleeves and you are not allowed the choose the design.

With purchase of S$100 of any Uniqlo products, you can also receive a One Piece tumbler.

Aside from these gifts, I also picked up a free Coast To Coast skincare set comprising a Outback Brightening Fruit Fibre Eye Treatment Mask, a Rainforest Foot Exfoliant and a $10 voucher. This is a promotion between Coast To Coast and Vivocity, not Uniqlo. The first 100 shoppers per day between Monday and Friday to spend $100 at Vivocity could redeem a letter at the Vivocity Customer Service Counter and pick up the set at the Coast To Coast store. It seems like today is the last day for the promotion.

The Coast To Coast Rainforest Invigorating Body Exfoliant is one of my favourite body scrubs so I'm sure I'll like the Rainforest Foot Exfoliant too!

Guerlain Rouge Automatique Launch at Tangs

Guerlain is launching its new Rouge Automatique at Tangs Orchard with a makeover event in May. Details in the pic below.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Holika Holika

Holika Holika recently sent me three of their star products to review.

The Fairy Bakery Muffin Shadow #3 (S$25) is a baked eyeshadow duo of a midnight blue paired with a swirled silver/lavender/greyish black half. The midnight blue shade takes quite a bit of layering to achieve a more intense finish. Even applied with a wet brush, the finish is a tad muted and not what I would term metallic. The swirled half is more shimmery but it is also messier as it tends to kick up a lot of shimmery bits (as you can see in the pic below). It applies as a slightly dusky silver.

For this look, I basically applied the blue shade from the upper lashline to the crease and the silvery shade as a wash over the browbone area and more intensely in the crease area. Used over a good primer, the eyeshadows lasted well through more than 8 hours of wear without significant creasing or fallout on the under eye area.

The Enamel Magic Melomovie Special Set (S$32.50) contains the Enamel Magic Melomovie Mascara and its own biphase remover. The waterproof mascara contains silk protein and pearl powder to create dramatic, gorgeous lashes with a "glossy coating base".

The tube packaging looks similar to Majolica Majorca's mascaras but that's pretty much where the resemblance ends. I found that the curvy S-shaped brush works very well with my sparse, thin lashes. The formula is quite slick and applies very smoothly. It does not contain fibres, which is a plus for me as fibre-based mascaras tend to irritate my eyes.

The mascara is good at lengthening the lashes and giving them greater definition without clumping. The volumising effect is not that significant but I liked how the mascara doesn't clump no matter how many times I brush it through my lashes. It doesn't flake or smudge at all throughout the day. It also removes easily with the Biore Makeup Remover for Eye & lip. Lotus Palace has reviewed the mascara here.

The Merry Holika All Over Face (S$50) is a face highlighting powder that also doubles up as a blush (using the pink half of the kitty).

It is sprinkled through with a very fine shimmer. Even after a couple of uses, the shimmer is still visible but not to worry as it does not show up as obvious glitter particles when applied.

Below are swatches of the 6 individual shades done on bare skin without any primer. Swirled together, the powder gives a subtle glowy finish. The pink shade works well on its own as a blush as it has good colour payoff.

It comes with its own powder brush in a plastic sleeve. The brush is nicely dense and feels as soft as a similar brush that I have from RMK.

Here's the look that I did with all three products.

The perennial gripe among Singaporean ladies about South Korean beauty brands is that the prices in Singapore are significantly higher than the prices in South Korea. In that respect, I think Holika Holika could have done better in making the prices more competitive, compared to say Gmarket. Nevertheless, it does have a diverse range of both makeup and skincare products that are worth checking out.

The Holika Holika store is located at level B1 of Wisma Atria. You can check out the Holika Holika Facebook page and Twitter for news on promotions and lucky draws.

More x Agnes B Voyage

Picked up the June issue of More magazine (S$19.30) today at Kinokuniya (Ngee Ann City). It comes with an agnes b. voyage makeup case measuring 15x22x6cm.

The case is made of polyester with a PVC coating and has a zip. It is supposed to have a red logo charm but the charm was missing from my copy. It's a minor irritant but not really that crucial for me as it doesn't look that special anyway.

There is an external pocket on one side. Inside, there are two mesh pockets on one side and another two non-mesh pockets on the opposite side.

The case is quite roomy and should be able to fit most of your beauty essentials for a trip.

To be honest, I find the case looks quite dull in comparison to my Cath Kidston and Jill Stuart mook cases. Nevertheless, it is quite well-made and doesn't feel flimsy. The inner seams are covered and the stitching is neat all around but there is no padding.

More bags from the Summer 2011 collection.

I'm lemming these colourful striped charms!

Monday, 25 April 2011

Addiction Creative Director Ayako

MSN Japan Beauty Style has just published the first part of an in-depth interview with Ayako, Creative Director of Addiction. It's a fascinating read so I thought I would translate some of it for the benefit of Addiction's non-Japanese fans (there are certainly several in the beauty blogging world!). My Japanese is far from perfect and so the translation is just a rough one.

Q: Why did you move to New York?

A: In 1988, I was selected to be the makeup artist for the Japanese team in Elite's Look of the Year model contest. A stylist that I worked with during that time invited me to visit New York and said that she would introduce me to various people. And I went. That was how I came to do a round of the agencies in New York.

Q: That was very proactive!

A: I could not speak English that well at that time but I had my portfolio from Japan. At that time, 須賀勇介 and Rumiko had already built a good reputation in New York for Japanese makeup artists, who were seen to be very meticulous in their work and punctual. An agency took an interest in me and after two months, I was informed that I had received a working visa. I decided to go for it, without any actual plan.

Q: How long have you been living in New York?

A: Since 1990, so about 21 years.

Q: That's long. It's been about 15 years since I first met you in New York. I was a beauty writer at that time and was impressed by your work at a photoshoot. It was a technique that I had never seen in Japan. You created a beautiful glowy base by using hardly any foundation. Like what's now called nude makeup that's better than bare skin. It made a big impression on me because at that time, it was still de rigueur in Japan to use a combination of liquid foundation and powder.

A: I'm happy to hear that. When I went to America, I also learnt many new things. In Japan, we are taught a certain set of rules that must be followed, such as applying a control colour, concealing freckles, applying mascara etc. The approach towards makeup was based on correcting one's flaws. But in New York, I came to understand that this was not necessarily the case.

Q: How did you come to work with Francois Nars?

A: That could be a long story (laughs). When I went to New York, I became immersed in foreign magazines that I had never read before. In those magazines, it was always Francois' work that drew my attention. I was inspired by his work and aspired to become like him.

Q: He's widely known for his makeup brand now, but at that time, he was already famous for his work at the fashion shows, in top magazines like Vogue and also for Madonna's Sex book. He was a makeup artist who made women look edgy but also very elegant and attractive.

A: Certainly. When he launched his makeup line, I wanted to see it so badly that I crashed the brand launch party at a club without an invitation (laughs). I saw all these slides of his work. I was so moved to be in a world that I loved. I thought I should meet him, or rather, he should meet me too! Hence, I worked hard to create a portfolio that he would like. When I started thinking about whether to return to Japan, I decided to take a gamble and contacted him to show him my portfolio. That was how I came to be part of his team.

Q: That's a nice story. There are many people in our generation who pursued their dreams in their 20s. After that, you became Nars' right hand person, working with many celebrities like Naomi Campbell and Hilary Swank?

A: The period when I was working with Francois was one in which every day was very enjoyable, regardless of whether we were working on the many fashion shows, shoots for fashion magazines or working with celebrities.

Q: I remember having a leisurely chat with you when I went to interview Nars for the inaugural issue of Vogue. I asked you if you wanted to have your own makeup line with your name. At that time, Rumiko had just broken into the Japanese market with RMK. You replied "Maybe someday but now is not that time yet". I thought that was cool.

A: Eh...I don't remember! (laughs) But I think that was indeed the case. At that time, I was still having too much fun and I thought that creating products in a relaxed manner was something for the future. That day came eventually!

Q: When was that?

A: Around 2007. The thought of creating makeup products really came suddenly one day. To be honest, the strongest push at that time came from Francois.

Q: Ah, that must be a good story!

A: We were in Bora Bora at that time. He asked me," Why don't you do it? It's best if you try it." I still remember that vividly even now. If he had not encouraged me, I might have continued to be in a dilemma.

Q: Were you like brother and sister?

A: Yes. I respected his vision and was satisfied with my work. But gradually, I wanted to create my own child, from the perspective of a woman and from my own vision. I thought that my vision could be useful to people who wanted to create their own distinctive, unique style. Hence, I wanted to create a makeup line that emphasised individuality.

Q: Do you mean creating a makeup line that is enjoyable and practical, something that could lift the spirits of women?

A: Yes. I discussed my idea with an art director that I had worked with previously and came up with a proposal.

Q: You are so proactive!

A: Hence, Addiction was not a brand that I was approached to do but rather, a brand that I conceptualised. I presented the proposal to a Kose executive, who happened to remember my work with Mariah Carey. At that time, I recommended Mariah Carey to use a lip colour that I thought was more suitable for her than the shade that she was originally supposed to use. Subsequently, the shade that I chose for her became a hot seller. The Kose executive was very supportive of my proposal and hence the collaboration with Kose was born.

Q: That's quite a story! You seem like a person who works hard to realise your dream, by following your instincts. Also, past encounters turn out to be more significant with time, to have a link with the future that you wanted to move towards.

A: That may be the case. Hence, I always think that individual encounters and incidents have their own meaning. I have many artist and musician friends in New York. Their works take physical form and shape. But the work of makeup artists is always changing. Fashion designers' works are also always evolving but they have their archives whereas the work of makeup artists is eventually washed away. Although my work was praised by friends, I wanted to create something that was more permanent. That was a major reason why I wanted to create makeup products. Like, I could give my mother a lipstick that I had created. I wanted to create something that would last in the world even when I'm not around.

As mentioned earlier, Addiction will debut a new Cheek Stick (2940yen) in 8 shades on 20 May in Japan.