Urban Decay’s Wende Zomnir on the UD x Jean-Michel Basquiat collection

Makeup as art


By Cai Mei Khoo

Urban Decay’s Wende Zomnir on the UD x Jean-Michel Basquiat collection

“I’m always inspired by the things I see, places I travel to and the people I meet, and that’s what’s really exciting about the Urban Decay event tonight—we’re going to get so inspired by some amazing art,” says Wende Zomnir, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Urban Decay. We’re in Los Angeles for the launch of the much-hyped about Urban Decay x Jean-Michel Basquiat collection and the event has been scheduled to take place at The Broad, a contemporary art museum in Downtown Los Angeles, which houses several Jean-Michel Basquiat artworks.


“I’ve always loved Basquiat’s work,” Zomnir tells me. “He talks a lot about the push-pull of things, the dichotomy of things, and I think that’s similar to what we talk about at Urban Decay—you can be beautiful, and you can be strong and powerful. As an artist, he really speaks to us as a brand, but I also think his art is really cool and since makeup is a form of art, a form of self-expression, this was a natural fit. When we got in touch with Basquiat’s estate, it just felt like it was something we should do.”


The limited-edition UD Jean-Michel Basquiat collection features 5 products in total: two eyeshadow palettes, a trio of lipsticks, a trio of 24/7 Glide-On eye pencils, and a cheek palette, all adorned in Basquiat prints—the palettes even have a hook on the back of the packaging so it can be hung, like a piece of artwork that it is.

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“We had full access to the paintings and were able to do what we wanted with them so it was a real exciting project for us to get artsy,” says Zomnir. “We had a lot of fun pulling out key colours from the paintings we selected and making beautiful palettes that people would want to use and wear. Basquiat’s Gold Griot inspired a neutral-tone palette with gold, and dark blue shades pulled from the painting, while another, more colourful painting of Basquiat’s inspired a more colourful eyeshadow palette.”


Personally, I gravitate towards more neutral tones so I ask Zomnir for tips on how to wear the neon green or bright blue eye pencil. “If you put the blue on your waterline, it makes the whites of your eyes look whiter and brighter. I think it’s also fun to hit the eyes with a pop of colour, and then put a black, superfine cat-eye liner on top of it. If you’re new to makeup, I would stick to that old, good rule of focusing either on the eye or on the lip. Once you get good at it, you can definitely try crazier looks. Another advice I always give people is to try a new makeup look at night, before you go to bed, because you’re going to wash your face anyway. It’s all about practicing and working on your makeup skills.”


Known for her love of eyeshadow colours, Zomnir had her eyes done in varying shades of green that day. “My favourite colour from the Basquiat collection is probably this green shade called Exu (found within the Tenant eyeshadow palette),” says Zomnir. “I feel like I can be so creative with this colour, and it adds a beautiful highlight to the eye in a quirky, unexpected way.” And if it’s one item she had to pick from this collection? “Definitely the Gallery blush palette. It has everything I need. I like using two blush colours-one more neutral, deeper blush and then hitting it with a pop of colour right on top of the apple of your cheeks. I also love bronzer for contouring and a highlighter for an all over glow. With this palette, I can just grab and go.”


Just before I head off to get ready for the party that night, where friend of the brand, Ruby Rose, will be in attendance, I ask Zomnir to spill the beans on what’s next for Urban Decay. “You know I can’t really say,” smiles Zomnir. “But there will be some really cool products, new colours and new palettes for Fall and Holiday 2017, so stay tuned.”

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Wende Zomnir’s top picks from Urban Decay:

1)   I can’t live without my Eyeshadow Primer Potion. Pro tip: It’s also great for using on blemishes. I use it on a blemish, before using a concealer, which helps it stick. I love that product because it’s so multi-purpose.

2)   I never go anywhere without my Zodiac eyeshadow. I can create so many different looks with it, whether it’s sheer, or deep and smokey. I always have people asking me “What’s that on your eye?”.

3)   I love the Perversion mascara.

4)  My go-to lipstick is probably Afterdark. It’s a deep, matte berry so it’s quite dramatic and cool, but it can also be blotted down into something more blush, and pretty. 


See images from the Urban Decay x Jean-Michel Basquiat lookbook:

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Shop the Urban Decay x Jean-Michel Basquiat makeup collection here


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