GDR reviews… Charlotte Tilbury and her magic mirror

Oct 20, 2016

Since its foundation in 2013, British beauty brand Charlotte Tilbury has arguably made all of the right decisions. As well as using ‘looks’ as its signature marketing strategy, combining technology with vintage styling is becoming something of a trademark. After a recent VR campaign involving Kate Moss, her new store in London’s Westfield White City includes a cutting edge version of the classic fairy tale prop, the magic mirror. GDR Innovation Researchers Lamorna Byford and Sophia Platts-Palmer went to the opening to find out more.

Charlotte Tilbury

Charlotte Tilbury

 In 2013 Charlotte Tilbury launched her own make-up collection that focuses on the idea that all women can and should experiment with different looks for different occasions. At the heart of her range are her carefully crafted ten signature day-to-night looks.

Tilbury has created a bastion of old world glamour within her new beauty store. The spotlight studded vanity mirrors and glittering palm tree chandeliers transport her customers back to the era of Hollywood starlets and divine decadence. Luxe velvet sofas surround sparkling pillars and rather than the clinical make-up counters so often found within the retail environment, Tilbury has curated her space to feel like a Pandora’s box of femininity. Of her design choices, Tilbury states that she “hates the corporate retail” aesthetic and her new store is anything but. The space, although in the heart of a minimalist mega mall, feels distinctly private and exclusive.

Whilst the interior is undeniably striking, the truly innovative aspect of the store is its ‘magic mirrors’. Designed by the London-based retail technology agency Holition, the mirrors are manned by the brand’s expert make-up artists. The customer sits on one of the red, plush velvet stools as they ‘try on’ Charlotte’s ten signature looks through augmented reality. They can then send the selection of photos to their email address, ready to be referred to later or shared socially.

GDR's Sophia tries out the bombshell look

GDR’s Sophia tries out the bombshell look

After taking turns in front of the magic mirror, we were whisked away to the beauty room to have the Dolce Vita look applied. The walls are lined with folds of pink satin and framed editorials that Tilbury has worked on throughout her 20-year career as a make-up artist to the stars. The beauty room, where the makeover magic happens, is reminiscent of dressing rooms of 1950’s screen sirens. Her long-serving team of make-up artists add to the luxurious experience, always on hand to guide customers and offer a unique retail experience. What’s really clever about the space is the fusion of art-deco, vintage glamour and cutting edge technology in a way that doesn’t jar, but instead feels like a brief escape from the busy mall it lives within.

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Holition told GDR: “Holition’s UX Team spent substantial time on research and exploring people’s attitudes towards shopping for beauty products and the latest trends – online or instore. One of the aims is to really understand how consumers are using digital. Holition believes that tools like the Magic Mirror create a deeper relationship and engagement with consumers. By understanding the role of technology in-store and the role of social, especially as a lot of fashion and beauty is about recommendations and endorsement from other people, Holition can make the tech fit for purpose”.

GDR's Harriet Cox tries the ten signature looks

GDR’s Harriet Cox tries the ten signature looks

Put bluntly, Holition and Charlotte Tilbury have really nailed it with this mirror. For one, it is fast, simple and alleviates the fuss of putting on and taking off a lot of make-up (although the artists in-store perform expert make-overs on request). The other major success is its fluidity. Similar to a Snapchat filter, customers can move around and the look stays perfectly super-imposed on their face. In fact, Holition Creative Chirag Grover spent so long working with Charlotte Tilbury’s make-up artists that he could eventually identify the ten looks by eye.

What the new store and, most importantly perhaps, the mirror really demonstrate is the power of inter-disciplinary and inter-industry collaboration. By bringing together experts from different areas and focussing, as Charlotte Tilbury always has done, on the ease of the customer journey, Holition and Charlotte Tilbury have created a little bit of magic.


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