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Charlotte Tilbury on Creating a “Quintessentially British” Makeup Collection for the Queen’s Jubilee

Charlotte Tilbury on Creating a “Quintessentially British” Makeup Collection for the Queen’s Jubilee

It all begins with the matriarchy. When makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury looks back on her earliest pearls of beauty wisdom, she is quick to credit “my amazing mother Patsy.” Growing up in bohemian Ibiza within a British ex-pat family, Tilbury remembers “[sitting], mesmerized, watching my mother’s morning and evening beauty routines.” The flame-haired little girl learned about the importance of a good skin cream—key to restoring hydration that might have been sapped by the beach or a late-night dancing. (At an age when other kids might have been graduating out of dolls, Tilbury was tagging along to nightclubs where Grace Jones or James Brown might be playing.) Just as important was a swipe of face-brightening color: “Happiness in a tube” is what Patsy dubbed her de rigueur lipstick. It was as much a jolt of confidence as it was a passport into a promising future: “‘It will take you anywhere!’” the makeup artist says, quoting the oracle.

In Tilbury’s case, that road to success has been a glittery one. In the past decades, she has overseen the makeup looks for high-profile runway shows (Alexander McQueen, Lanvin, Chloé) and painted the faces of era-defining women, including Kate Moss, Amal Clooney, and Penélope Cruz. She launched her namesake cosmetics brand in 2013, solidifying her approach to all-day glamour: “desk, dusk, disco,” Tilbury once put it to Vogue. Alongside those career accolades came recognition from Queen Elizabeth herself. “Darling, receiving my MBE from the Queen in 2018 for services to the beauty and cosmetics industry was such an honor, and one of the most magical days of my life!” Tilbury says, still thrilling. Four years later, her brand returns that support as the official beauty sponsor of the Platinum Jubilee, celebrating the monarch’s 70 years on the throne. The eagle-eyed among us will even spot Tilbury swanning in the pageant this Sunday, carrying her new crimson velvet makeup bag as a clutch.

The Queen honoring Tilbury with an MBE in 2018. 

Courtesy of Charlotte Tilbury.

“Lipstick is instant glamour, and Her Majesty the Queen has always harnessed that soft power to create her iconic image,” says Tilbury, astute about the levers of influence. She points to the monarch’s keen eye for color, as seen in a rainbow of skirt suits and matching hats, as well as the ribbon of pigment on an otherwise naturalistic face. Tilbury pays tribute to that signature makeup look with a limited-edition trio of Jubilee lipsticks, each designed “to empower everyone, everywhere.” The shade appropriately called The Queen is a “quintessentially British cerise-pink,” she says, teasing out a panoply of influences, from the Crown Jewels to the Union Jack flag. Gracefully Pink nods to royal icons of the past (though one could imagine Kate Middleton feeling right at home in the shade, given its upbeat polish). And Runway Royalty comes straight from Tilbury’s own highlight reel. It’s an “homage to the queens of the ’90s runways—from Kate to Naomi to Christy,” Tilbury says. “I can’t give away all my secrets just yet, but some of them will be joining me at the Platinum Jubilee Pageant celebrations!” 

The Charlotte Tilbury Platinum Jubilee collection.

Courtesy of Charlotte Tilbury.

The festivities wouldn’t be complete without the makeup artist’s signature jewel, Magic Cream. (Originally based on her grandmother’s recipe, the moisturizer earned its name on set, when her collaborators, in search of that dewy, plumping effect, would ask, “Where’s that secret magic cream?”) The best-selling version now included in the Jubilee collection has been fine-tuned for peak efficacy, so much so that Tilbury—an effusive, charismatic pitch woman—calls it her “famous instant turnaround cream: You see the results in 28 seconds and 28 days.” 

It’s easy to imagine the cult-favorite product as an accessory on the throne: scepter in one hand, faceted jar in another. After all, Elizabeth II is known for her longevity, as much in youthful visage as in her history-making rule. “Over the last seven decades, we have seen the most incredible transformation in the way we live our lives and the opportunities that are available to women, and throughout it all, our Queen has embraced change, captured our hearts, and led our country with pride,” says Tilbury, noting the monarch’s compassion and forward-looking vision on behalf of future generations. “It is so important for me to honor the women in power who have paved the way before us, and to inspire those to come.”

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in The Queen

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Gracefully Pink

Charlotte Tilbury The Super Nudes Lipstick in Runway Royalty

Charlotte Tilbury Charlotte’s Magic Cream

Charlotte Tilbury Platinum Jubilee Makeup Bag