The Unicorn Queen appears, without ceremony, among the bloggers and PRs standing around in the white light of Space NK.
We are early. Only a few of us are here, and she is introduced to us much like anyone else in the room, a small figure in elegant fancy dress. She's remarkable perhaps for her flame-red hair (curly but without a hint of frizz), her flounced and ruffled outfit, her sage green suede heels, or the flawlessness of her skin. But certainly not in the way she's presented to us. There are no fanfares or chariots. She stands before us motionless for a second before I reach out and shake her hand, and she begins to speak in a quiet dreamy voice.
As we small talk, I observe the unusual perfection of Doe's makeup and outfit. So much effort must have gone into this look, and yet the result betrays no sense of artifice at all. She wears long false lashes, and two black beauty spots are painted onto her face. It should look affected and yet it doesn't at all. It's part of her.
When I think of internet "celebrities", I think "hunched over monitor", I think "unkempt, delusional" and I think "sense of self that has no bearing on reality". I certainly don't imagine a person who looks just as boldly stunning in person as she does on the Photoshopped pages of her website. But Doe Deere lives this persona utterly, looks the part completely, and is perfectly at home in her fairytale. Her fantasy IS her reality, and is expressed with every inch of her body. She lives her dream. Whether that is a good thing or not is open to question.
From what you've read about her scheming ruthless business practices and underhand blogger-muzzling tactics, you'd probably expect Doe to be something of a diva in the flesh, and for her personality to be as distinctive as her outfit. However not even the most ardent of her detractors could have made that accusation after seeing her at the launch this evening. If anything she's, well... vague, and spaced out. Perfectly nice, pleasant to talk to, but she doesn't make a splash in the room. She's happy to chat, and there's no sense of snootiness or reserve, but she is still somehow quite detatched.
The PRs lining the walls make sure everybody is fed and watered (cupcakes and bubbly) and shepherd us all into trying on the Lime Crime lipsticks and having our pictures taken (a professional photographer has been drafted in, and we're told we'll get the pictures for use on our blogs).
Our own pictures are shown here.
There's nothing much more to be said about the lipsticks - Temptalia's review (to give a good example) is exhaustive. The colours are bright, but some are lacking finesse - some colours stain the lips and are drying. The tubes are bright pink, the unicorn print is fun but not to everybody's taste. They're probably not worth the £14 Space NK are selling them for, although they're by no means bad lipsticks. The red is lovely. The blue would require serious lip-prepping to look good. I like the orange, but I am probably in the minority.
Nobody at the launch discussed repackaging with Doe. Nobody uttered the words "duct tape dress" or "animal shelter" in her presence. No-one reiterated any of the accusations from the now-infamous Examiner thread.
Maybe we should have taken Doe to task, tried to get some answers for the many fellow bloggers she's upset. But at her own launch? Surely she's entitled to enjoy her own party, and we as guests would be acting pretty shoddily to deliberately make her uncomfortable in that context. And to attack such a mild-mannered, whimsical being just wouldn't have seemed OK, even if we had had the will to. (Maybe that was an intentional effect - I don't know.)
We asked one of Space NK's PRs if they were aware of Lime Crime's reputation online. Yes, was the answer - but it's the products that are important, and the brand itself. Lime Crime's ability to recruit hordes of young fans has a strong appeal, it seems, as Space NK look to branch out to a new demographic of shoppers.
For the many wishing Doe Deere comeuppance for her various reported misdemeanours, note the track record of Space NK's new brands in recent years. We've seen niche ranges launch with a Space NK exclusive, sit on the shelves, and disappear in months. Think Sonia Kashuk brushes. The Lime Crime/Space NK allegiance may too be short-lived.
Only time will tell.