Wednesday, 27 October 2010

All we do is shop until we drop - IMATS Toronto

In my final year at LCF, I created a beauty magazine called 'Pretty' ( will do more detailed post on this at some point!). As part of my research I was lucky enough to go to IMATS London which was held at Alexandra Palace in January. I was going to do a write up about it but as I'm typing this I think I might just post the article that went in the magazine...the kind and lovely Charlotte from Lipglossiping gave me permission to use her stunning pictures of the event in the magazine (of which one would be above but Blogger is being a little so and so & not letting me upload any pics!) because mine were so blurry it looked like I'd had a few Cosmos before being let loose with the camera. You might want to fetch a cup of tea, or even better, a cocktail as this might be a very long post...

In the industry, it’s known simply as ‘the show.’ IMATS, or the International Makeup Artists Trade Show happens five times a year, in London, Los Angeles, Sydney, Vancouver and Toronto. With press pass in hand, Editor Sophie went to Alexandra Palace, host of this year’s London extravaganza to mingle with makeup artists, schmooze with students and return home with aching arms.
By 9 am on the first day of IMATS 2010, the queues at Alexandra Palace were trailing outside the door. With presales of 3000 tickets, the London version of IMATS this year outsold it’s Los Angeles counterpart (generally thought of as the main event). Every makeup artist, beauty blogger and cosmetics enthusiast in the country could be found in the North London venue on this cold, sunny weekend with big shiny IMATS carrier bag in hand ready to be filled with goodies. 
Upon arrival by trusty Addison Lee (early at 8.30, beating the crowds thankfully) I was waiting outside with the other eager girls and boys. When the big doors opened, I made my way into the main convention centre. IMATS is basically a huge makeup convention, yes in the manner of those famous Star Trek conventions, but it’s not Kirk and Spock who float these boats - big beauty brands, makeup schools, prosthetic and special effects artists from all over the world come to showcase their products (often at a budget friendly discount!) and impart their wisdom to enthusiastic makeup artists. Alexandra Palace is set up with booths adorned with bright pigments, shiny new brushes and impressive stands of headless monsters and hairy beasts. The air was heavy with the smell of anticipation and lipstick. 
The biggest component of IMATS is the exhibitors. The great thing about the show is the variety of exhibitors and the opportunity to be introduced to new companies and products that may otherwise have been overlooked. While famous and ever popular brands like MAC are present, the real gem are the lesser known companies who get the chance to showcase their products. (See my pick of the top 3 companies exhibiting). In the era of YouTube Gurus, many of whom are American, it allows us Brits a chance to access the products that they have recommended but which are not readily available in the UK. As well as tempting booths, there is an impressive makeup museum, filled with wax figures from films, beheaded characters so real one felt as though any minute they might jump and and scream at you in manner of the London Dungeon.
There is also a big student competition - students from various makeup schools were given the theme of Alice in Wonderland and tasked to create a look based on this theme. The results were fantastic and the calibre of work very impressive. 
I then spent the next hour or so wondering around the stalls, getting the lay of the land and not buying anything (honest, guv’nor!). 
At 10am I headed to the West stage where David Klasfeld, founder of Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics was conducting a talk about airbrush makeup. These talks are perhaps the main draw of IMATS for makeup artists. Industry professionals and makeup ‘celebrities’ perform seminars, demonstrations and talks on stage and those in attendance get a rare insight into the minds and work of these successful professionals. It is an invaluable opportunity to be able to hear these individuals at the top of their profession talk about what they love. Klasfeld discussed the merits of airbrushing - particularly relevant in these days of Hi Definition. I then hotfooted it over to the mainstage to join a huge queue of people waiting to be allowed into the room to hear Terry Barber, director of Mac Cosmetics for Europe and the UK. This was one of the big events of the weekend and the line of Mac addicts, wide eyed and hearts racing from the excitement of the day, trailed around the corner. Once we were finally in and everyone had elbowed themselves to the best seats we waited for the man himself, who was to talk about Makeup for music videos. His inspiration for the particular look he was going to demonstrate was ‘blackspoitation’ and he proceeded to makeup a model effortlessly, all the while telling the audience stories about his celebrity encounters with the likes of Grace Jones, who allowed him to shave off her eyebrows, on the premise that she spent most of the 70’s without them, so why would she need them now? His tips about lighting the face using contour and highlight were of particular interest. After another few hours spent walking around, talking to people and filling my increasingly heavy shiny IMATS bag with brochures, booklets and products (needed for vital research, you understand) I headed back to the mainstage. The final talk of the afternoon and one for which seats were in serious demand was the inimitable Alex Box, Makeup Artist and founder of Illamasqua, a relatively new brand which has taken the makeup world by storm since it’s creation. Instead of a demonstration or seminar, her talk was in the form of a sit down interview with Makeup Artist Magazine. A vision in sky high stilettos and blue lipstick, Box was softly spoken and engaging - talking about her start in makeup and her vision for Illamasqua. After a rousing round of applause, I headed back to the exhibition room catching the extremely impressive entrants into the student competition wandering around for photos.. After another quick look around the exhibitors, I left Alexandra Palace just before closing with aching arms, a considerably lighter bank account and a smile on my face. 

It was a fab day, I was SO exhausted when I got home! It was also the day I first met the fabulous KatyRebecca who have gone on to become firm friends of mine, so that alone was worth it!

The point of all of this is that IMATS is coming to Toronto on the weekend of November 6th and 7th. I, of course will be there, elbows extra pointy and cash at the ready. I am going with Best Friend Tia, who has already made a list and detailed map as to which booths we need to visit first. (Do I need to point out why we are best friends?!) As well as the usual suspects (Mac, MUFE, Nars etc) there are a couple of companies going which I am thrilled about! 

The first is Face Atelier, a Canadian brand who reached out to me when I was starting 'Pretty'. They sent me some samples including their foundation which is AMAZING! I cannot wait to get my hands on a full size bottle. Actually now I think about it I never sent them a copy of the magazine, in post hand-in relief I sort of blocked all thoughts of 'Pretty' out for the summer. Actually there's a few people who probably want to take a look at the finished product. Will have to send some emails! Anyway my point is that they have this fantastic foundation, I can't imagine why it's not more easily available because it truly is great. Face Atelier, if you're reading this, I will bring a copy of the mag to IMATS for you! 

The second is Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics. Like most who try them, I am obsessed with their Lip Tars. Seriously if you're a makeup junkie and you haven't tried these yet, you need to get a move on! I have four but am expecting my collection to grow considerably after the show! It's hard to describe them well enough to do them justice. They're in a tube like a gloss, look and feel like a lipstick and stay on like a stain. Hello Lip heaven.

It's going to be so much fun! What with Ottawa Fashion Week and IMATS, the next couple of weekends are super busy which is just how I like it. Oh and did I mention I also move house next week?! Talk about eggs and baskets!

Speak soon,
Love Sophie

ps. Check out the IMATS website for info


  1. Sounds like you had a great time! By the way, so nice to met you last night, hope I see you again in the next few days! I am your newest fan/follower :D

  2. It was fab! Lovely to meet you too! I'm sure we'll bump into each other over the weekend for sure!


  3. Wish we had a chance to meet at OFW. love your blog and your writing style!

  4. you have a great writing style

  5. Ashley, it's a shame we didn't bump into each other! And thank you so much! x


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