The Edit

A day in the life of an Illamasqua shoot

The PR & Social Media team were lucky enough to spend a day helping out backstage at the new Illamasqua campaign shoot this week. Although what we witnessed is strictly top secret (you will have to wait until May to see the results) we wanted to give you a insight into a day in the life as a helper backstage and on set.

Melanie Green – PR Executive

6.15 am – Alarm goes off; it’s the day of the shoot! I’ve not slept properly, partly for the fear of not waking up but mostly, pure excitement. It’s never hard to get out of bed so early when I know what I’m going in for. Showered, dressed and make – up on, I catch the train and anxiously make my way to the Regents Park Studio location.



8.30 am    People are arriving, having breakfast (extra caffeine please!) and chatting excitedly about the day ahead. There’s a tense vibe as everyone gets prepared, so much to do in just one day. As much as the entire team try to plan each shoot, anything can happen on the day, especially when so many incredibly creative people are involved. What is in store for this Illamasqua campaign?!

9.00 am – It’s all go now at the studio. Creative Director, Alex Box and Assistant, Louise Bryan arrive and set up the make-up station. Stylist, Beth Buxton and team display the clothes and lay out the costume jewellery. Hair Stylist, Yumi Nakada-Dingle is straightening, drying and back combing hair pieces on the first model and Nail Technician, Rebecca Wilson is choosing which colours to use.


11.00 am– The set is being created. I can’t say too much, but there are so many machines, lights and tools, I can’t wait to see it come to life.


The models arrive throughout the morning; these girls are so strikingly beautiful. Suddenly my make-up from 6 am doesn’t feel quite right?!?! They’re all lovely and I chat to each one, about other shoots they’ve been part of, what make-up / clothes they wear on a regular day and they ask me about my role as PR Executive at Illamasqua.

12.00 am – Everyone’s so busy and lost in a wonderful creative bubble, so I offer to get drinks and refreshments from the kitchen to keep us going. The amount of passion and hard work behind each campaign is overwhelming, from the photographer to Alex Box to the Stylists 3 Assistants, the concentration is intense. If you’re not careful, you forget to eat!

1.00 pm– The first model is ready to go and she looks incredible. The walk from the styling station to the set feels like the longest catwalk, you can cut the tension with a knife. Everyone’s watching as she works the camera, striking different poses and listening for the Photographer’s direction. Pawel Pysz is a photography genius and every shot flashing up on the screen is as stunning as the next. I feel very lucky to be part of this.


Rose Gallagher- Social Media Manager

1.30pm – I arrive to a warm reception but it transpires that the smiles are masking fear – we’re behind schedule and everyone is eager for the first model to finish her set. As she moves we’re all thinking the same thing… Is her outfit going to work? Will her hair stay in place? Does she need her make-up touched up? Her every move is scrutinised and the team swarm around her, perfecting and preening her every inch. The lash flash of the camera goes and our fears are quashed; the stills are out of this world.

2.30pm – David Horne, our Director of Product Development, is way past summer… he spends half an hour talking me through our 2013 Christmas collection! I spend the time trying to coax him into naming a new product after me. He doesn’t seem to buy it but, who knows, there might be something Rose themed that ends up being too good to refuse!

3.30pm – The nails, the make-up and the hair are the last thing on our minds when a certain man comes through the door… the pizza delivery man. Feta? Pepperoni? Vegetables? Whatever your topping, there’s something for everyone. Don’t worry though, we haven’t gone completely crazy – we’ve stocked up on straws so that the models don’t ruin their lipstick when sipping on their bottled water. Not everyone is hungry. We’re behind schedule and there is quite a lot of watch checking around the room. Eager to make the most of the time, team Propaganda begin discussing the campaign direction with David and Alex. You really can’t afford to waste a moment in times like this.

4.30pm – Waiting for her time in the chair, I chat to one of our models about her skincare secrets. She tells me that she loves Aesop shampoo and Aveda conditioner to keep her hair in great condition for any modeling eventuality. When I ask her about the secrets to her incredible skin she tells me that, for her, it’s all about organic skincare. Not one for investing a fortune on products, she tells me that when it comes to skincare her philosophy is the more natural the better!

5.30pm – I acquired a most fascinating beauty tip from watching Alex at work… did you know you can use a toothbrush and a bar of soap to block your eyebrows out? I’m going to try it this weekend. Forget Rose, you can call me Lily Savage! Alex is concentrating intently on her model, examining every intricate detail of her face. However, she is only human and the temptation overcame her when she heard me talking about my kitten – she had to pause and coo over him. There isn’t a moment to spare on shoot and her assistant pre-empts her moves by having her next product or brush ready at all times.


Nicola Thornton – PR Manager

5.30 pm   –  Its my turn to be “helper” backstage at the Illamasqua summer collection shoot. My office working day as PR Manager ends and  my new one as Assistant starts taking over from Rose.

I have been lucky enough to see Alex Box in action at a few of our collection shoots over  my  2 years at Illamasqua. My first experience of this magic was when Alex created 5 looks in one day for her Stylist September 2011 feature on “Art Movements told through makeup’, id never seen anything so special.   Watching a true artist working is awe inspiring and mesmerizing.

On my way to the new collection shoot I am prepared for anything as at the Stylist shoot previously Alex asked Jo the Beauty Director of Stylist and myself to see if the cushion covers on the sofa we were sitting  on came off?  They did. Voila a head piece for the “Cubism” look.

Stylist – 2011

After arriving at  the studio in North London I head straight into to the hair, make-up and styling room. It was buzz  of activity so I  introduce myself to anyone I’ve not met before.  Alex and her assistant Louise are working hard, I don’t want to interrupt them so I quickly just say Hi and get out of the way. I’m always so intrigued as to how Alex never looks stressed or agitated even in the pressurized environment of a shoot, she always has a sense of serenity around her which is contagious.  The atmosphere on the set is calm however there is a positive buzzing tension in the air.

After catching up with David Horne on what products from the new collection had been used and how the shots earlier in the day looked looked I feel the excitement grow for what is going to be a really special shoot using some of my favorite new products from Illamasqua yet. Wait until you see them!

7.00pm – It’s amazing how many nuts,grapes and crisps you can eat when they are in front of you that you don’t actually want.


After filling in Illamasqua Brand Director, Joe Corre on what is going on with PR and how well our current collection I’mPerfection is being perceived I check my emails and have a wander around checking  if Alex and her team or Charlotte from our Marketing department need anything doing. The studio  feels like it could have been a old Victorian town house and has lots of its original elements including the most gorgeous bathroom remaining.  Although the studio is packed full of people working hard and milling around it still has a bit of an eerie feel,  I then spot this spooky staircase which gave me the heebie-jeebies.


I find a good spot and watch in wonder at everyone working so hard putting the set together for what I think will be my favorite shot of the collection. I wish I could say more!


8.00pm –Was call time for our 5 hand models so I was in position at the entrance to welcome them to the studio. The schedule was about an hour behind so I asked the ladies to take a seat and have a cuppa  while they waited.

I’d never met a hand model before so I had to ask “how did you know you could be a hand model?” there was a resounding similar answer, friends or manicurists had always told them what nice hands and fingernails they had so they looked up agencies and applied.  Some of the ladies do hand modelling as a full time job or part time in the evenings and weekends alongside their regular jobs.

What fun!  I asked to inspect  their hands so I could see why they were model quality and  they each had gorgeous long nail beds with symmetrical straight fingers – sadly that’s me out  of the game as I have decent nails but wonky fingers and knobbly knuckles.

10.00pm- We all look at each other as if to say there is no way we will be finished by 11pm, the last model is still on set but we are still hopeful.  Rebecca Wilson and her hand models have been waiting patiently for over an hour now.  Finally at around 10.15pm its time for their hands and fingernails to shine!

10.40pm  – As the hand models are balancing on one leg leaning into the camera trying to get the perfect shot I pop into see Louise, Alex’s assistant. She is packing away the suitcases of makeup they have been using all day. Louise mentioned to me after she finishes tonight with Illamasqua she was heading home to pack for Milan Fashion Week the next morning! Reluctantly she let me wash Alex’s brushes as I was desperate to help her save some time so she could head off. I don’t know how she does it?

11.05pm-    Us final few remaining are huddled around the preview screen on set and the final shot after a 15 hours shoot is deemed complete. The photographer shouts “that’s a wrap” and  we all “whoop” and “clap” like you see in “making the video” on MTV.

My few hours behind the scenes were fantastic. Although we are not part of the creative team Mel, Rose and I understand the importance of being the go between to ensure  everyone is okay, the models arrive, the cars are booked and that any Illamasqua product Alex may want is there and accessible for her and her team to use. The insight and knowledge we gain being in the shadows, brings the collection to life and makes our job of relaying the campaign message and insight to press and bloggers so much easier. We feel we were (if even just a little) part of making of it all happen.





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Govinder Rayt

Govinder Rayt

Writer and expert