FROM THE FRONT | Illamasqua Soho boutique

AN ELDERLY woman, two French tourists, a drag queen in street clothes, a mum and daughter and me... that was the motley crew of customers in Illamasqua's new Soho boutique on the afternoon I visited the space.

It was all black lacquer, antique gold, low lights, artful mannequins, boudoir mirrors and a bijous, gilded makeup school hidden behind goth circus tent-stripped curtains. The space is an homage to playing dress-up with your makeup. The products, from colorful pencils through to base products, ring the room, with the makeup station manned by very good good makeup artists sits in the center, next to the shattered mirror till. And a glass case abutting the left wall as you walk in houses items donated by stars in support of Illamasqua's Sophie Lancaster Foundation.

Highlights of the shop: Being able to play with all the products (including the nail varnishes, liquid metal and pure pigments), all testers are in pristine shape, the shrine to Sophie Lancaster, amazing makeup artists who will do you an entire look for fun (thank you, Amanda!); the makeup remover used in the makeup school (the Crealine H20 cleanser by Bioderma); the makeup school; Alex Box air-brushed mannequins...

Stand-out products: Illamasqua precision ink in Alchemy, Christmas nail varnish duos, liquid metal in Resolute and matte finish lipsticks

I went into the shop a regular girl and came out looking part Debbie Harry, part Jem and the Holograms. Pretty cool...

Check out and enroll in Illamasqua's School of Make-up Art classes.

Illamasqua, 20 Beak Street, W1F 9RE, London, UK

Crealine H2O Ultra-Mild Non-Rinse Face and Eyes Cleanser 250 ml by Bioderma