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Amber Rose is probably not the first person a big heritage cosmetics company would think of to hire as the face of a brand. Yes, she has perfect skin and 12 million Instagram followers, but she also has the tendency to talk to those followers about former boyfriends’ sexual proclivities in no uncertain terms. However, Estée Lauder has done exactly that and hired her to be the face of a new brand called Flirt.
At a launch party at The Box, a burlesque club in NYC, Rose said to the crowd that she was surprised when she was approached for the job. “I’m tatted, bald headed, I talk about sex like really raunchy — but I’m very sex positive — but I just speak my mind. Are you sure you want me for your brand?” Then she answered her own question. “It’s the perfect match. I am their modern-day woman!”
Donald Robertson, a creative director at-large at Estée Lauder and a popular illustrator on Instagram (@drawbertson), was the person who reached out to Rose in the first place. He is responsible for the playful branding and illustrations that decorate the packaging.
If Flirt sounds familiar to you, it’s because it used to exist as a Kohl’s-only makeup brand geared at a young crowd. Estée retired the brand two years ago, but dusted off the name for this new and completely different iteration. According to John Demsey, the Executive Group President at Estée Lauder (which owns MAC, Bobbi Brown, Clinique, and Smashbox, to name a few brands), he wasn’t at all nervous to bring on Rose. “I focused on the audience,” he says.
Flirt will roll out individual products one at a time. All products will only be available online for now, and obviously social media will play a big part in how they’re marketed. Demsey says Rose will remain with the brand through the spring. Five or six more products are in the pipeline and will be released every few weeks.
The first one, which will be available September 15th, is pretty unique. Called Flashes ($28), it’s a fake lash applicator gadget. At the launch, Robertson called it a “staple gun for your eyes” and that’s a pretty accurate description. It releases “buds” of three individual lashes. You advance a bud out of the applicator, apply some lash glue to the end, hold it on your lash line where you want it to stick, then release. I got it to work on the first try, and I am completely incapable of wielding tweezers to apply individual lashes. The applicator contains 40 buds and you can choose to apply them all along the lash line or just at the outer corners. It looks like this (click to see video):
While Flirt is owned by the larger Estée Lauder companies, it’s its own entity, unlike the Estée Edit, which is fronted by Kendall Jenner and is the little sister to the eponymous line. Demsey says they can exist in harmony, even though they’re both being marketed at social media savvy millennials.
“We live in a world where everybody buys everything. Every girl is a different girl every single day. Someone can buy something from the Estée Edit one day, buy something from Flirt then next day buy something from Bobbi Brown,” he says. “The days of being defined by one brand or one person, whether I like it or not, are out the window. Nothing good happens without change.”