Reality television’s original mother-and-daughter team are now dictating your beauty palettes. We catch up with M.A.C’s newest mistresses in London town…
In 2002, one woman changed television as we know it with a simple proposal: an invitation into her home to meet her family. Forget Kris Jenner and her revolving door of headline-grabbing daughters, reality television has only one true founding mother and that is Mrs Sharon Osbourne. Over a decade ago, in a land before gifs, this flame-haired music manager approached MTV with the idea of a behind-the-scenes show about her eccentric rock-royalty family. Ozzy Osbourne was one of heavy metal’s biggest names and within a matter of months his wife and two of his five children, Jack and Kelly, were a foul-mouthed riffing obsession spanning continents. It was an instant ratings winner, with Sharon quickly emerging as a shooting-from-the-hip star and Kelly, the occasionally stroppy and always-typical teen, used her popularity to launch a multi-pronged career as a singer-songwriter, designer, actress and television personality. While Sharon was mentoring and quipping her way through ongoing series of the The X Factor, America’s Got Talent and The Talk, Kelly was establishing herself as an oracle of cutting-edge fashion. Since 2011, Osbourne the Younger has been one of the most prevalent faces on the E! show Fashion Police, well able to hold her own with the cutting Joan Rivers. Her taste for pastel hair, frequent undercuts and even more frequent Instagrams label her a very modern style icon. (Coming down the pipeline are more television work – a Disney cartoon series where she plays a ‘lovable villain’, some executive producing roles, as well as another top-secret television role – and a clothing line.) With fierce resumés like these, a make-up collaboration with M.A.C seems as natural a fit as their endearing domestic anarchy did with MTV back in the day. The make-up brand’s collaborations in recent years have been at the pulse of pop culture. Rihanna and Lady Gaga have been Viva Glamming up a storm while Disney’s Maleficent even had a go at smouldering eyes and Tumblring teenagers await Lorde lips.
On a sweltering day in the M.A.C store in London, we catch up with the mother-and-daughter team, a first for the iconic brand, to talk change, growing up and making up.
Both women are equipped with Sweeney Todd sing-song English accents, their personalities distinctive presences forged by years of the spotlight. Kelly is immediately open. Dressed in cool pastels with her trademark lilac hair fashioned into a recently shorn and gentle mohawk, she takes the lead from the start, genuinely excited about her chance to influence beauty palettes across the world. “I know that my taste is a bit extreme and not for everyone. I had to pull back a bit,” she admits, painting a vivid picture of what working with M.A.C is like. “They gave us the opportunity to go down to get pigment sent to us from the M.A.C Pro vaults in New York and they have these huge big glass – “She falters as she describes this almost Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D–style headquarters. “Domes,” suggests Sharon, whose stance is a reminder of her decade as an on-and-off X Factor judge. Her palms are pressed together and an elaborate diamond ring runs the length of one finger, a magnet to every eye in the room. She is wearing a pristine white blazer and her sculpted, deep red hair screams glamorous authority.
This M.A.C collaboration, which is available in Brown Thomas stores here, has been 12 years in the making, Kelly explains. “When they first came to us, my mum had cancer. This was in 2002, and I wasn’t in a very good place.” From 2004 to 2009, Kelly completed a few stints in rehab, where she battled an addiction to painkillers, a chapter which now seems firmly in her past. John Demsey, Group President of M.A.C, checked in on the duo every few years. “And then he came back again about 18 months ago, ‘Okay, you’re ready. I want you to do it.’ So it’s been in the pipeline for that long.” What drew Sharon to this new role was the courage of M.A.C and their trust in the mass appeal of beauty products. “I think it’s very brave to use my daughter, who is in her twenties, and I’m in my sixties; but make-up is ageless. It proves that someone of any age can use M.A.C make-up. I don’t know whether it adds to my career, but it makes me feel really good.”
Kelly and Sharon actually worked separately on their collections. “I think that the most interesting (part) was the most difficult part, and that was making a cohesive collection that embodied what we represent, the kind of women we are and what we like, while at the same time making it wearable for everyone.” Kelly was conscious of the limits of make-up. “I hate to use the word ‘nude’ because nude is different depending on who you’re talking to; it’s always a different skin tone.” When it came to devising her own lipsticks, she “tried to come up with some basic nudes that looked good on everyone because I find that with people with darker skin it can tend to look like chalk on their lips”. Kelly tackled this unfairness with the help of the M.A.C scientists. “I figured out that if you add a high level of peach, that will change the colour and make it work on everyone. I wanted it to be diverse so it could be worn by any woman, every woman – size, race, whatever.” With her eyeshadows and eyebrow duo, charmingly named Morning Mister Magpie, she used real-world subjects. “I did a test where I got a friend of mine who is black, a friend of mine who is Mexican and a friend of mine who is actually Irish – she’s got red hair and is paler than me. I tested all the colours; I made sure they looked good on most skin tones.” Another inimitably ‘Kelly’ part of the collection is the naming of the products. “I wanted to represent me and my British culture so that’s why there’s Dodgy Girl, Strip Poker, Riot House… I can’t believe I got away with that one,” she says in reference to Strip Poker. It turns out Sharon tried to name everything in her collection after her dogs, who have became famous due to their television appearances. Sharon took age into account when choosing her collection. “I wanted something that was subtle and warm. I wanted it to be not just for me but for everyone… I didn’t want to come up with anything that was too bright, too shocking, because I feel that’s kind of fashion. And it will fade. I wanted something that will stand the test of time.”
Despite the dissonance, the collections work well together, a fact Kelly explains they “didn’t realise until we saw the final product.” At a Selfridges event later that day, their make-up artists used the products interchangeably, and M.A.C’s packaging reflects this. Kelly’s pieces come in soft lilac packaging, Sharon’s in a passionate red. Beside each other in store, they work. There is cohesion.
From screaming matches immortalised on YouTube to this shared commercial endeavour, how has the mother-daughter dynamic changed over the years? Kelly smiles ruefully. “I think that I’m not as annoying to my mother anymore because I’ve done a lot of growing up. My mother and I have been very, very close. I’m lucky because a lot of my friends don’t even talk to their mothers and I’ve got one of the coolest mums in the world.” Sharon beams and gushes about Kelly when they begin to talk mother-daughter make-up tips. The Fashion Police presenter says, “I learnt most of what I know about make-up from my mum, and drag queens.” Sharon smiles indulgently, invoking Ru Paul, another famous M.A.C collaborator. After Kelly confesses to stealing Sharon’s lipsticks and Sharon corroborates that, yes, the wallpaper was a casualty, the rock matriarch extolls her daughter’s life experience so far, never passing an iota of judgement. “I think Kelly’s the prime example when you see a young girl growing up going through all the feelings that young people have – that you want to rebel.” Any rebellious examples that spring to mind? Kelly shudders, “Google Images… they’re the gifts that keep on giving and they’ll never go away.” She is perhaps more forgiving of the paparazzi than we would be. “They’re great reminders of how far I’ve come in life and grown up. It’s just everyone got to see my awkward moments.” Her tone descends into almost a grimace. Sharon interjects with a Mama Bear defensiveness. “But she did it at the right part of her life. A lot of women go through mid-life crises and suddenly want to change everything and they look ridiculous and not age-appropriate.” Sharon remains adamant in the usefulness of her daughter’s travails. “Kelly did it all at the right time: when you’re meant to make those mistakes. It’s all about growing up and finding your path, finding your way, who you are.”
And in a post-M.A.C x Osbournes world, who would they like to see collaborate with the brand in the future? Kelly thoughts flow immediately, “Laverne Cox from Orange is the New Black – I think that she’d be fabulous. I think that having a beautiful transgendered woman do a M.A.C campaign would be incredible and it would be very life-changing. It could change people’s perspectives and I think she’s just gorgeous.” Sharon? “Any of the girls from Game of Thrones.” Kelly laughs at this; Sharon is unapologetic: “I’m obsessed so everything I do is from Game of Thrones. I’m obsessed with the clothes too. I think that everyone should wear a cape. A long cape.” Kelly turns towards her, “Is that why you’re trying to get Dad to wear a cape again?” We think MTV need to look into a series reboot…
The secret for always glowing skin?
Kelly: “Honestly, I can’t lie. I don’t have a huge beauty routine. I can’t use a lot of fancy products because my skin is way too sensitive so I wash my face with either baby soap or Cetaphil. I take my make-up off with M.A.C wipes. If I start using too much, next thing my face is just itchy. I’ve really tried to use fancy stuff but it just doesn’t work on me. But I’m lucky: I got my mum’s genes so I’ve good skin.”
Sharon: “I’ve admitted to having a lot of cosmetic surgery but there’s one thing you can’t buy and that’s good skin. It’s either in your genes or it isn’t. I was blessed that I had good skin on my face so I like to take care of it. I look at it as a gift and I don’t want to waste that gift. So I protect it, I put so much sunscreen on… always, always moisturising. You’ve only got one skin and you’ve got to take care of it.”
Their favourite products from the collection?
Sharon on her lipsticks: “They’re very easy to keep in your bag and they’re very easy to put on. You don’t really need a mirror for them.”
Kelly: “The foundation brush, which is the little tiny one. I discovered that years ago M.A.C used to make a Number 108 and it would look like an old-fashioned shaving-cream brush. When you buff the foundation, especially face and body, I found that it’s the quickest way to get it on before you get out the door. I really liked that. I was thinking of the everyday woman in every situation.”
Most recent luxury buys?
Kelly: “Mum, your ring.”
Sharon: “No, do you know what luxury is? Luxury is flying private.”
And how are the dogs?
Sharon: “Very naughty! No they’re lovely. And I miss them terribly. I’ve been away from home this last three weeks travelling on the road with Ozzy, and every day I call in and they stay in our bedroom under our bed. They come out to go to the bathroom and then go right back. Under the bed, that’s where they live when we go.”
#MACOsbournes is currently available in Brown Thomas.
Jeanne Sutton @jeannedesutun