By Jennifer Masseau
French cosmetics company Make Up For Ever is breaking ground with its first-ever brand campaign, “Be Bold. Be Unexpected. Be You,” unrolling in stores now. The visuals, which will be promoted throughout Sephora locations in Canada and the U.S. from July 16 to August 26, will feature the new Ultra HD Foundation, Artist Plexi-Gloss and Artist Palette.
But the real news is how these products are being promoted—or rather, by whom. Andreja Pejić is one of the campaign faces, making her the first transgender model to land a major cosmetics contract. (In late 2014, Redken made history as the first beauty company to sign a transgender model, booking Lea T as the face of the haircare brand.)
Pejić first stepped into the spotlight in 2011, walking womenswear runways while still publicly identifying as male under her birth name of Andrej. She revealed her transgender identity and new first name last year.
Pejić’s personal transformation fit with the “Be Bold” campaign’s mission to advocate for individual self-expression. Recently, we sat down with Dany Sanz, founder of Make Up For Ever, to get the scoop on this statement-making casting.
“It’s really coming from the beginning of Make Up For Ever,” explains Sanz. She credits her early days of doing makeup for theatre with instilling a sense of inclusiveness: “I was [surrounded] by personalities that were a little bit different…for example, the gay community. [It was] totally normal for me; there was nothing wrong.” The brand’s theatrical heritage still guides Sanz today. “The brand has been the favourite of people who want to change their personality, to change the face, because they have a role or are on-stage. Life’s a stage for us, all the time.”
On choosing Pejić, Sanz says, “She is the perfect example of changing a face, a personality, using makeup.” The timing was right, too: “It’s nice to take the opportunity to work with her now, because she is having a very strong moment of success.”
The convention-breaking casting of the campaign, which co-stars actress/fashion blogger Jamie Chung, also underscores Sanz’s desire to make products that work for everyone. Case in point: the new Ultra HD Foundation comes in 40 shades, and two formulas—a liquid and a cream stick—for different skin tones and types.
As for whether she worries that choosing Pejić may deter less open-minded consumers, Sanz gracefully accepts that you can’t please everyone, and stands firm to her values.
“Sure, it’s nice to be loved by [as many] people as possible. But we are Make Up For Ever. We have always been a little bit different. And we want to be different. When you are different, you have people who like you; you have people who don’t like you,” says Sanz. “And if some people don’t like, or may be shocked…Okay, don’t become a tribe member of Make Up For Ever. There are plenty of brands around us. We are not universal. So it’s not important.”