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How fashion’s logomania obsession became the biggest beauty trend

Turning make-up lovers everywhere into walking billboards for their fave luxury brands

Turning one’s face into an advertising billboard might seem like a strange idea – but brand appropriation is becoming increasingly popular among the new generation of experimental make-up artists. A century ago, monograms like LV and Gucci were introduced to signify authenticity – but today it’s more about the maximalist aesthetic which has travelled from fashion to other areas of lifestyle and culture. The rise of DIY beauty bootlegs exposes the rapidly shifting attitude not only to the branding itself, but also the ideas of authenticity and ownership in the 21st century.  

I have been interested in fashion bootleg since childhood. Growing up in 1990s Russia, my first memories of fashion were market knock-offs: fake Gucci belts and Versace jeans which had not much in common with authentic designs. The notions of real and fake are a cornerstone of the fashion hierarchy – and despite being the opposites, very closely intertwined. Historically, monograms were created to signify quality and authenticity. Louis Vuitton logo dates back as far as 1896 and was introduced partly to ward off counterfeiters. Paradoxically, an interlocking “L” and “V” is the most faked feature of the luxury label, and as a symbol of luxury and prestige, the very reason for obsession and demand. 

In the last few years, we’ve seen the rise of the excessive monogram pattern from brands like Fendi, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and even Nike. The brand has become a maximalist ornamentation, an additional enhancement to the garment and look. It’s only natural that it has also travelled from garments and fashion to other areas of our life. Bootlegs have always existed in the day-to-day environment: unauthorised branding on cakes, interior decorations, or nail design. But the new wave of brand appropriation in make-up is different – it’s not created for profit, it’s voluntary and very temporary. Rather than a claim to luxury or fashion, it’s more a creative interpretation of its codes. 

“Bootlegs have always existed in the day-to-day environment, but the new wave of brand appropriation in make-up is different – it’s not created for profit, it’s voluntary and very temporary. Rather than a claim to luxury or fashion, it’s more a creative interpretation of its codes”

There is no doubt that the rise of logos in beauty is connected to Instagram and Snapchat face filters: we are now used to treat our faces as a canvas in a very playful manner. Branded face filters are overwhelmingly popular: from LV and Gucci monogram patters to Dior stars on your cheeks to Lacoste crocodiles all over your face. 

Today, branding is so present in our reality that it merges with our faces, and there is no denying that we’re part of the capitalist system all the way down to our skin. At the same time, using logos as a creative tool in beauty could also be empowering – because it’s unsanctioned, ironic and free. It teaches us to engage with branding on a more active level than just consumption – after all, in the evening you can just wipe the monograms away. It shows that the definition of luxury for the new generation has changed – and will keep changing in the future. 

Here, I round-up five of my fave bootleg fashion make-up looks. 


The styles of incorporating brands into makeup are numerous and aesthetically diverse. Ukrainian make-up artist Sasha Chudeeva anchored hers on the Reebok eyeliner. The whole look channels sporty aesthetic: wet hair, flushed cheeks and a light touch of purple highlighter. “As if you’ve just run a marathon” – which of course you didn’t.


Indian-Australian make-up artist Rowi Singh described her Louis Vuitton look as “Once upon a time in Bollywood: an Audrey Hepburn flex”. Golden LV sticker here signified luxury reimagined for the new generation – mixing influences from different geographies and both high and low cultures. 


Paris-based Barbara Malewicz channels ultra-maximalism with Chanel: gemstones on her cheek in the shape the logo, in addition to a Chanel scarf, a Chanel pendant and Chanel on her green eyelids. 


My favourite branded make-up look is from Ali – AKA @sweetmutuals. Two mirrored Louis Vuitton logos painted just above the brows in radiant light blue. It’s futuristic, witty, lush but slightly imperfect – could be worn to a club but also makes a bigger statement. Ali experiments with different hand-drawn logos – Nike or LV above of the brows, or below on the cheeks – all with visibly hand-drawn touch.  


British-Bengali make-up artist May Tahmina Akhtar often uses Nike logos: covering her face with numerous Nike ticks in rainbow-coloured rhinestones or dried flowers. Her take is probably the most experimental: Nike here is completely separated from what it signifies, the ideas of sports or athletic performance. The logo is decontextualised and simply becomes one more visual element of our reality. 

The Real Thing – curated by Anastasiia Fedorova – opens on February 7 at Fashion Space Gallery at the London College of Fashion through to May 2 2020