Kat Von D Talks About the Design Behind Her Makeup and Why She Prefers Herself Without It

Augusta Falletta
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Photo by Augusta Falletta

Kat Von D has made a name for herself as a renowned tattoo artist and musician, and since the launch of her innovative and quality makeup line at Sephora, she’s been taking the beauty world by storm, too. With a signature cat eye and red lip look, plus the seriously creative background that comes with being a tattoo artist, Kat’s been pioneering the way for industry firsts when it comes to makeup, and creating a bit of a cult following, too.

This July, her newest beauty products will be launching at Sephora. A collection of six metallic, click-twist liquid eyeliners and 30 lipstick shades (the largest range of lipsticks to ever be at Sephora!) all with studded black lacquered packaging, this launch is already sure to be a hit with fans and newcomers alike. We caught up with Kat at the launch for her new line in New York City and chatted inspirations, how she chooses products for the collection, and why she actually likes herself better without makeup. Read on!

Beauty High: First off, tell us which lipstick you’re wearing [pictured above]. 

Kat Von D: It’s called Adora, it’s from my collection. It’s a metallic candy apple red. Honestly it’s one of those reds that just works on every skin tone. I’ve seen it on everyone from teens to 80-year-olds and it just looks like Christmas paper wrapped lips, I love it. I remember when I came up with the idea for that because I’m like, ‘I love everything glitter’ but I didn’t want anything like wrapped foil.

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When you’re coming up with the line, is it more based on what you love or what your customers ask for? 

Usually in the creative meetings, they’ll bring in predictions and things like that and then I’m just like, yeah, we’ll take those and throw them out the window. I have no interest in following trends. I think if anything I just want to make things selfishly for myself, things that I love and I’m passionate about. I think from day one it’s always been a matter of setting the ground work for my own trends and it’s always kind of worked for me. We obviously kept the hero colors from the existing collection: Adore, Underage Red, and Lolita. I looked at stepping out, what would be the essential, and I wanted absolutely no filler. I think a lot of the time, people put like 10 different nudes or if orange is the color of the year, they’re going to do five oranges. I’d rather just have a small quantity with a lot of quality. There’s a few colors I had to fight for because from a conservative standpoint, there are a few things that sell a little better, but at the end of the day I feel like this brand, what makes it different from anyone else is that it is outside the box.

Let’s talk about this black studded, lacquered casing on the lipsticks. 

Yeah they told me to bring the bracelet that inspired it today, but it didn’t really go with my dress! My friend Jason Brooks who’s like this amazing designer, he does this leather with pyramid studs but he’ll use obsidian. So we’re sitting there drawing all these different ideas, and I drew a few different renditions. I was like, ‘I wanna make something like if Tim Burton designed a candy.’ Something black lacquer that felt good in your hands. Obviously I didn’t want to make it sharp and pointy, but just recognizable in your purse and looks nice and lush, so we came up with this. I feel like it’s as modern because I like a lot of things that are baroque. I marry the two aspects of my punk rock heritage and upbringing to something that’s beautiful.”

MORE: Kristen Stewart Goes for Graphic Liner and Cornrows in New Chanel Ad

Do you think your makeup collections are going more in that modern direction now?

It’s all cohesive in the end. You can take something that’s baroque, like I don’t know if you’ve been into the Sephora’s recently but I’ve redesigned the entire gondola and physically hand drew all the fixtures that you see and it’s like we did the same thing with the collection. We took old baroque framework and filigree that I not only used in my tattooing but in my home décor, then gave it like a red lipstick glaze so that it still has that modern edge to it. Also, they finally let me have a fragrance in the lipstick, it’s a crème brûlée. It’s like you want to eat it.

Tell us the best beauty advice you’ve ever gotten.

I’m the worst at giving advice because I’ve been made fun of since I was 14-years-old for looking different, so I don’t really care. People have always been like, ‘who are your beauty icons?’ Like Edith Piaf and Siouxsie and the Banshees — people who were considered outsiders. But it’s just the confidence and tapping into knowing who you truly are. That’s the best and sexiest attribute that you could have, and that’s why I always say that my favorite look I wear is when I don’t wear any makeup. I like myself without makeup, but this [wearing makeup] is just fun for me.

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