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PETAH FILES: London bridging, an interview with Illamasqua

June 16, 2012 by pam

If you’ve been reading Polish Police for a while now, then you definitely know Petah. Yes, my beloved polish elf.

Petah who surprised me with MAC Wonder Woman, who helped me get my bottles of Chanel Les Jeans, who found St. Tropez when it was crazy elusive, who bowled me over with the Deborah Lippmann Edge of Glory Set, who helped me get my dose of Dior Anselm Reyle, who used his magic to get me Chanel Gold Fingers, who completed my Thakoon by NARS rainbow, who rocked my Easter with this great surprise.

Given the many many many polish adventures and missions Petah has gone on for me, this was really a long time coming. Today, I am happy to introduce to you a new Polish Police feature: Petah Files. Petah Files will chronicle Petah’s polish discoveries and – here’s the best part – he will be writing for Polish Police. I seriously seriously love reading Petah’s post-adventure e-mails and I know you will enjoy his posts.

And today’s post is the perfect way to kick things off. Petah is based in New York but he recently flew to London for a quick break (and to spend time with his adorable nephew). Trust him to squeeze in some fun polish time. But I should really stop and let him do the talking…


When my London trip was confirmed, my first instinct was to ask Pammy if she needed anything from the other side of the pond. She exclaimed, “Illamasqua!!!” As her awful enabler I said, “OF COURSE.” Brainstorm commenced soon after…

A few hours later, I was on my assignment. Pammy had asked the wonderful Alex (and David, the NPD Director) about an elfish interview. She said, “Absolutely.” And that’s how the quest started.

London is a familiar territory but this one-on-one interview assignment was outside my comfort zone. Exciting, yes, but it’s also nerve-wracking. Interviewing two brilliant people in the industry is a big deal and I had no intention of disappointing Pammy. I want it to be dazzling.

So midway through my trip, my date with Illamasqua finally happened. I came prepared and put my best foot(wear) forward. I got off Oxford Circus and walked down Carnaby then Beak. You can not miss their flagship store.


Its energy radiates from its doorstep.


The place definitely had a lot of spunk and personality. I was prepared to be greeted with attitude but I experienced the opposite. Despite the foot traffic (they were busy preparing for an event that evening), they were very friendly and accommodating. The staff were as vibrant as their collection. Alex said they wanted a club vibe.


It felt exclusive yet welcoming. It’s bewildering yet enchanting. It was beautiful chaos.


Alex had this glow about her self. She made me feel at ease instantly. We went around the corner for coffee and the interview. She said David is running late but we can start with the Q&As. Unfortunately, the café was a little loud and recording was not feasible, so please bear with my account.

We talked about the company’s history, most particularly their first nail polish (line). They started with a Glenis Baptiste collaboration – an institution in the fashion industry. The range comprised of 32 colors, some of which are still in rotation. They concoct a new collection every six months, dabbling with eight to ten shades. Shades that are retired can be resurrected as long as the demand is strong. They peruse the blogosphere, listen to their fans and bloggers and adhere to their wishes. 

Alex discussed their new collection, Naked Strangers, and how it was conceived.


She said they wanted something completely different from the previous releases. She added that customers were looking for neutrals and this is their answer. It’s a smart move for them – they’re able to bridge out and reach a new crowd and still maintain their signature spunk for their fans. Three nail varnish colors were added to their collection – Monogamous (matte), Faithful (metallic) and Swinger (metallic). Not only do they sound intriguing, they strike a mood. Though the names seem controversial (Phallic comes to mind), they are all born from a consensus that represents every collection.

Soon after, the brilliant David arrived. He knows more about the technical side of the business – after all, he’s their wizard. It takes about 32 weeks to develop a new formula from conception to your nails… now that’s a lot of dedication. He cited Bacterium as an example. He once had this antique spoon with a mold-like patina when inspiration struck. The spoon traveled to their labs. Whilst dumbfounded, their chemists were able to concoct this extraordinary color and it made its debut.


Pushing industry boundaries without being gimmicky is very important for Illamasqua. They take pride in their innovations and delivering what their fans have come to love. 

As we were wrapping up, David spotted a cardigan-clad lady wearing a shade similar to Monogamous. To her surprise, he handed her a bottle of the nail varnish. She looked curious and puzzled but she had a big smile on her face. David said this is how they engage the market. She certainly got an anecdote to take home. So next time you’re in London, make sure David spots you.

I was very impressed with their narratives and the philosophy behind the brand. It’s bold and alluring. It speaks to the senses. It certainly captivated me.

To Alex and David – thank you for making time to meet with me. It was a pleasure meeting you both. I cannot wait to see your next campaign and collection.


To Pammy – I hope I made you proud. And here’s a little something from Alex and David, your very own Naked Strangers collection.






Cosmetics and new collections aren’t the only things that cause a clamor at the Illamasqua store. Behind the velvet curtains are a beauty bar and salon where they make magic. For those who want to have the full Illamasqua experience, they offer professional courses from basics to extensive make-up artistry. There are services to please your inner diva or drag star persona. And if you ever find yourself in London, they have a free 15-minute consult for drop-ins. You can find more info at


  1. Jessica says:

    Long-time lurker and occasional commenter here. So happy to see Petah writing for Polish Police! I really enjoyed reading about his Illamasqua date. It’s always lovely to see the people and inspirations behind our fave brands.

    • pam says:

      I love getting to know our favorite brands too :) it’s always interesting to see the passion and dedication that go into making the colors we love :)

  2. Illamasqua is quickly becoming one of my favorite brands and this post is so awesome!

  3. pam says:

    Petaaaaaaaaaah :) I love love love reading about your Illamasqua adventure, I wish I could have been there with you! Looking forward to your next adventures :)

  4. Tammi P says:

    Long time lurker too. Just want to say great article Petah on a brand that I’m starting to love.

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