It is a hyper-cool evening at Mumbai’s Soho House. Digital influencers, stylists, Bollywood folk and Mumbai’s beauty tribe have shown up for the launch of designer Masaba Gupta’s make-up collection. Many are sporting Masaba prints.
Dressed in her Nimbu Paani—a turquoise dress with giant lemon prints—Masaba is excited about first reactions to the collection, launched online and in her stores on 23 July. The response, she says, has been good.
This isn’t the first time she has co-created with a beauty brand. Her collaboration with Lakmé Absolute in 2017 was a funky range of lip crayons Lakmé Absolute Lip Pout Matte Masaba Lips, which featured prints from Masaba’s Candy collection, based on the colours and memories of childhood candies. But this collaboration with e-tailer Nykaa is different—“with Lakmé it wasn’t collaborative or sharp enough. With Nykaa, it has been a two-year intensive immersion."
Masaba has taken to digital media to talk of her collection. Her IGTV videos and Instagram posts have walked her 802,000 followers through the collection. Her Twitter followers run to 1.4 million. Then there is Nykaa—she credits their team with handholding her. “I was very clear about what I wanted. Prints, we knew, would be the be-all and end-all of the look and packaging. And I wanted wearable colours, not just pop colours."
The packaging is eco-friendly cardboard. The prints evoke some Masaba nostalgia: There are cow prints, palm prints and firecracker printsfrom older fashion collections. The collection itself is surprisingly small—a range of 12 lipsticks with nail polishes to match. I would have expected Masaba to go the Fenty way and launch with a range of foundations as well—still a big gap in the Indian market. She is a huge fan of Rihanna’s brand and says there is a beauty portfolio planned, so we have to wait and watch.
Masaba’s voice comes through on names like Cool Guy (which has her famous cow prints) and Buzz Kill. Trolls, says the text on Buzz Kill, will call me an illegitimate child. That is exactly the gutsy Masaba we know.
Overall, the shades are very wearable, and, at ₹599, make the lipsticks accessible to a large audience. Most tend to be in the nude palette, a crowd-pleaser no doubt, but I would have liked some more fashion colours in the mix. While there are shades like Femme Fatale and pataka on the red spectrum, a grey or oxblood or blue would have sat in well. The nail polishes too could have had a bolder fashion palette.
But Masaba says she is clear where she is going with her collection. “The girl I am talking to is someone who loves being quirky but deep down is still conventional."
Beauty lines by fashion designers have a way of becoming hugely successful. YSL Beaute, Tom Ford Beauty and Giorgio Armani make-up are some very successful examples. YSL Beaute was bought by L’Oréal for over €1 billion (now ₹7,653 crore) according to reports. In India, Manish Malhotra has recently launched a 46-piece haute couture collection with MyGlamm aimed at the “chic Manish woman". Rohit Bal has collaborated for a bridal collection in the past with French luxury brand Lancôme.
With her beauty collection, Masaba has certainly moved in the right direction. As the 29-year-old outs it, “When you have a strong signature and voice, brand extensions become a natural choice."
Geeta Rao is Vogue India’s former beauty editor. She writes on luxury, beauty and wellness.