How Tattoo Queen Kat Von D Became a Makeup Mogul

She’s celebrating a new line for every woman (and man)
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“Brows have been underestimated for so long and I think they are probably one of the most important facial features,” Kat Von D explained at a gathering for media and influencers atop the Chateau Marmont earlier this month. She was talking about her new eyebrow collection, a colorful line of pencils, pomades, powders, and brushes for her mega-successful makeup brand, Kat Von D Beauty.

Von D (full name: Katherine von Drachenberg) first gained attention for her intricate black-and-gray tattoo work on the TV Show LA Ink, but it’s arguable that her beauty empire has turned her into an even more influential cultural figure. Next month she celebrates the company’s ten-year anniversary with a big rollout, including social media campaign in which she’ll unveil 10 “muses” who’ve inspired her throughout the brand’s evolution.

“I’m very excited…I’m featuring one for each year that the company’s been alive,” Von D says. “Most makeup lines hire models that represent whatever they’re trying to sell. But for me, I’m representing a lifestyle, not just a specific thing. And I think that when people are talking about inclusivity and using that as a marketing tool, that’s cool because you’re promoting something positive. But I think it goes even deeper than skin color, you know. I think that inclusivity includes things that aren’t your conventional idea of beauty.”

According to Von D, she’s always been an outsider. It’s why she wants to highlight fellow misfits. “I’ve been picked on and never felt really accepted. Even now and it’s not as bad as when I was younger, but I think that there’s still room for acceptance in a bigger way.”

The brow line is the latest in a slew of high-profile KVD launches so far this year. Last month she unveiled a collaboration with the estate of drag star Divine featuring highly pigmented eyeshadows named after the actor’s infamous John Waters films, and the month before that, she put out a long-wear, coal-black eyeliner for men (and women) called Basket Case, a collaboration with Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong. She also recently released a new crop of reformulated Studded Kiss lipsticks that are vegan and cruelty-free, as all her products have been since she became vegan herself. In the next few months, she’ll unveil a new vegan shoe line, and she’ll release her first foray into music soon after that; she recently married a musician, Leafar Seyer of the band Prayers. (Remezcla called them a “match made in Latino goth heaven.”)

At the Marmont event, brow-shaper extraordinaire Kelly Baker was on hand to primp and prime guests’ brows and reps from Von D’s Artistry Collective tried out the new products on guests, playing with all the wild colors (we wear purple eye shadow, so why not try purple brows?) on adventurous types and more subdued brunette and blond hues for those less so.

Von D’s products skew edgy, but they’re really for everyone, from punk and goth chicks to glammy guys and queens to natural girls and women who simply want to highlight their features; “Lolita,” her most popular lip color, is a pretty pinkish-nude that’s universally beloved.

Much like tattooing, it’s all about helping people express themselves through their physical appearances. “I think now with Instagram you’ve got people that are really artistically expressing themselves through their makeup on social media,” Von D explained. “In the past, having your hair dyed a crazy color was not accepted and you’d get judged or criticized by society. Nowadays everybody’s open to it, you know, and you have CEO’s with pink hair, so I think coloring your eyebrows is the same. I think this is something that’s not going away and that people are going to continue to explore, experiment, and really push the boundaries with as far as makeup artistry goes.”


RELATED: 12 L.A.-Based Women Tattoo Artists You Need to Follow on Instagram


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