When Newport Beach-based beauty brand Urban Decay booked after hours visits to The Broad Museum last Wednesday afternoon to hold a celebration for its latest launch, the concept raised a few well-groomed eyebrows.
Known for their Naked palettes, proactively named lipsticks and past Gwen Stefani collaborations, Urban Decay tends not to do things small and subtle, and its recent event at The Broad to celebrate a collection of nine new makeup items inspired by Jean-Michel Basquiat with current face of the brand, Ruby Rose, was clearly no exception.
The evening, which started with private tours of the Broad for invited guests and then moved on to Otium restaurant next door, drew bloggers, YouTube beauty influencers and media from all over the world.
Clad in a sharp black pant suit, Rose held court on the rooftop area, doing a meet and greet with fans who snapped selfies with the Australian model/actress.
"We were inspired by Madonna, since [the Urban Decay collection] is Basquiat," said Rose's stylist, Jessica Paster, of her look. The THR power stylist dressed Rose in black Philipp Plein pants with crystal embellishment down one leg, a black tuxedo-style blazer by Murmur, Swarovski jewelry and Christian Louboutin heels. Madonna and Basquiat dated in the early '80s, prior to her pop stardom and at pretty much the height of the late artist's short (he died of a heroin overdose at age 27) but stellar career.
But of course, as art goes, Basquiat is more in demand several decades later and is just as popular with millennials as he was the "Me" generation. Case in point: Urban Decay tapped his work as inspiration for blush and eye shadow palettes, lipsticks and eyeliners, which are festooned with notable work by the artist and launch in limited quantities on April 20.
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The 31-year-old actress has long been a fan of Basquiat and boasts a tattoo of the artist's face on her bicep as well as his iconic crown drawing on her chest.
"I have loved Basquiat since I was a kid, and always felt inspired by him and drawn to him before I really even could understand why," said the Orange is the New Black actress. "Then, as I got older and looked more into his life and dove more into where he came from and what his art meant, I was even more blown away. I continue to be blown away by pieces that he's created."
Rose even covered a past car, a ride she refers to as "a really old Porsche that always broke down" with Basquiat drawings that she scrawled on herself.
Her painting skills, partly passed down from her mother, who was an art teacher, translate into makeup application and her interest in experimenting with it both in her personal and professional life, she said.
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"I'm very hands-on with creating a character for a film," said Rose. "You start with mannerisms and who she is and the backstory, and then it goes into what she'd wear, and then it's how the hair and makeup would be. To this day, I've designed and collaborated on the makeup with all my characters pretty much from scratch and the directors have been very free with it. With each film I get to do different things with makeup and have fun, and in my real life, same thing."
Life seems to be coming full circle for the actress who says she was "stoked" when Urban Decay co-founder and chief creative officer Wende Zomir broke the news to her that the palettes (which are covered in canvas and have hangers on the back so they can be hung or displayed as little works of art) would be inspired by Basquiat. "It's just really cool, and I think it was so well executed and done brilliantly," she said. "And for me, knowing that the last Basquiat sold for $57 million, I know that the closest that I'll get to owning one will be having these up on my wall."