Sunday, 31 January 2010

Interview: Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics

Disclosure - we were given product samples to review by OCC.

We were able to grab 5 minutes at IMATS with Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Creative Director and CEO David Klasfeld and Director of Creative Development Katie Pellegrino. After swapping notes on polish (Katie was quite curious about the Illamasqua NWS I was wearing) we asked a few questions about the phenomenal surge of OCC mania that has erupted across the internet.

As expected by everyone but the brand themselves, the Lip Tars had all but gone by half-way through the first day of the show. "We always sell out, and then we bring more the next time, then sell out again" says Katie, not altogether ruefully - it's a huge compliment to the products, even if it does mean it's tricky to anticipate and meet demands. We tell her there are people for whom the presence of the hallowed Lip Tar was a major draw to IMATS itself.

"That's my baby!" she says with a mock-wink. "We never realised it would be so popular. And the name - David wanted me to change it. He said nobody would buy a product called "tar" and want to put it on their lips! I really had to fight him on that."

But Lip Tar it is, and it's taken the makeup community by storm. Despite having several other products in their range, including loose pigment, glitter, nail polish and airbrush makeup, Lip Tar has become synonymous with the OCC brand.

The first two Lip Tars were Tarred and Feathered, the black and the white colours. Since then the range has blossomed into a riotous rainbow of 24 colours - from clear to fire-engine red to ultramarine blue.

So is there a flagship Lip Tar? Indeed there is - Complex, a pale lilac, was created by Katie for fashion designer Diego Binetti's Spring 2010 collection, and is currently the brand darling. It's not yet on sale. We *think* this is what Katie herself was wearing at IMATS (and which she artfully applied direct from the tube - a move not recommended for amateurs). Another icon is Katricia, another, bolder lilac that many made a beeline for at the IMATS stand.

So with Lip Tars setting the fashion and beauty world alight, have Katie and David seen any copycat products influenced by them?

David laughs - "If any of the big beauty labels saw our formula and the amount of pigment we use, they'd actually think we were insane. It's just such a niche product." I ask if he has any thoughts about MAC's Pro product Lipmix, a high-pigment tube-based gloss/colour hybrid of a similar ilk. Is it a Lip Tar rival? He doesn't think so - "It's a different product. Less pigment, a more matte finish. It's a good product but it's not the same thing. It is interesting though," he speculates, "how MAC have been promoting Lipmix a lot recently."

So surely OCC aren't going to rest on their laurels? What's the next step for the Lip Tar?

Well, the current project is metallics. So far there's no satisfactory way to get shimmer into Lip Tar format without it settling and separating in the tube. It can be done, but not without sacrificing the intensity of the shade - which of course would never do. A solution is in the pipeline - expect to see metallic Lip Tars rolling out in the near future.

In the meantime, David recommends creating a DIY metallic lip with a mix Lip Tar and Loose Colour Concentrate in the desired shade. I've tried it here with Authentic, mixed with clear Lip Tar - what do you think?

Finally, we asked how the underground popularity of Lip Tars among the blogging community had affected them. Did the bloggers who championed Lip Tar make a difference to the product's success?

"We wouldn't be where we are today without bloggers. We love bloggers."

Guys, we love you too.

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