Be prepared: The much anticipated limited edition Lion King makeup collection by renowned celebrity makeup artist Sir John and Luminess Cosmetics is hitting shelves tomorrow. Judging from the buzz it’s gotten, it’ll probably sell out faster than the gazelles that leap across the screen in the 1994 original animated Lion King. Sir John counts Beyoncé, Serena Williams, Karlie Kloss, Naomi Campbell, Joan Smalls among his famous clientele, which is fitting since Beyoncé plays Nala in the upcoming new film, hitting theaters July 19.
To get inspiration for the line, Sir John visited Africa. “I spent a ton of time in South Africa, in Capetown and Johannesburg; I adore it,” says Sir John, who is also co-executive producer of American Beauty Star. “I went on safari for the first time. The rhinos came right up to the truck, we were in the lion’s pit—just seeing animals that way took me aback. When you get a chance to get out of the US and see what real dirt and real clay look like, it’s so fertile. African clay has so many shades of reddish brown and warm brown. The landscape is what inspired me. One thing about Lion King is you don’t necessarily have a Disney princess that inspires you, like Cinderella. Lion King is all about the atmosphere, it’s all about the vibe, so hopefully I did it justice by paying tribute to the landscape and how organic the scenery is.”
Those striking earth tones take center stage in the collection, which includes an eyeshadow palette, a contour palette, a highlighter/bronzer, two shades of matte lipstick, two liquid lipsticks shades, and a tinted lip balm. Every item has amazing color payoff. “If you look at the eyeshadow palette you’ll see these natural clean browns and wearable colors for people who are minimalists,” Sir John says. “And for people who like extra drama, there are some beautiful jewel tone shades, like a purple that looks like a sunset. All of those colors are inspired by nature; even the sculpting palette is very natural in its tones. If you take the textures of the eyeshadows, it’s serious pigment. I just need to tap it—you can even use your fingers (to apply it).”
Sir John had a say in the sophisticated, striking packaging from start to finish. Though the film is pure Disney, the aesthetic is all grown up. “I fall in love with product from the outside,” he says. “It’s not a juvenile collection, it’s something you can hold. As you become more mature and get into your career, your packaging changes and the products that you source changes. You don’t want to whip out a dollar lip balm when you’re at a dinner—you want to have a beautiful compact that shows your station in life. As you move up, you evolve as well. I wanted to make sure that the girl who knows quality is going to want to hold this compact at dinner and not run to the restroom and hide it.”
It was also important to Sir John that the collection work for the Lion King’s global audience. “As a makeup artist, I have such a diverse group of women who I work with, so I have to make sure that this translates to everyone from Harlem to Hong Kong,” Sir John says. “In terms of complexion it has to be for the girl who is super fair, like Nicole Kidman’s complexion, to Lupita’s complexion. They’re both looking at me at the same time to make sure I get it right. So many other makeup artists have the luxury to work with one demographic, but I think the most modern way forward is to have a global complexion in mind. You want to make sure that all girls are invited to the party.”
Of course, Sir John is also paying homage to the fans of the original Disney animated Lion King. “This is a love letter to the moms who were kids back in 1994,” he says. “I was one of those children. Now most of those women are having families of their own and they’re taking their kids for the first time to see the movie. It’s like a time capsule to those women.”
We know there’s one mom who approves of the line: None other than Beyoncé. “I wanted to show her something that was real, so I waited until the packaging was done so I had a real product,” Sir John says. “She was like, ‘oh my god, this is so good; I need five boxes.’ Getting her support on any project is so cool. A lot of people say, ‘what do you get inspired by?’ Being around really impactful women who are so badass and super strong, there’s all the inspiration you need. You don’t need much inspiration when you’re next to a woman who does a project like Lemonade or the Super Bowl. It moves culture. I grew up around a really strong mom. Strong women have really taught me.”
Be like Beyoncé and get your inner Nala on before the collection drops on luminessbeauty.com on June 15. Use the pre-sale code ‘UNLK367’ to shop at 9PM EST on Friday, June 14th.