Makeup collaborations that involve musicians are often special: MAC Cosmetics alone has utilized the talents of Ariana Grande, Halsey, and others in the past, while Jennifer Lopez has an entire line with Inglot, not to mention Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, which has taken the world by storm. But while all of these projects are exciting, few are as unique as Milk Makeup’s first-ever collaboration launch in tandem with Wu-Tang Clan.
The makeup brand and hip-hop legends are both NYC staples, and the two bonded over their Big Apple heritage to create a lipstick collection that truly blends the two identities together.
“I have a great relationship with Milk’s founder, Rassi, and as New Yorkers, we’ve frequented some of the same circles. We spoke about fashion and the cosmetic world and I revealed that [Talani], my wife, has a cool perspective about makeup [because] in her youth, she was in the modeling circles,” said Wu-Tang’s RZA to Billboard. “She is a fan of Milk Makeup’s products and when [Rassi and I] talked about forming a collaboration that reflected our NYC sensibility and philosophy, makeup became the unique and unpredictable choice. The Milk Makeup collaboration was spearheaded by my wife.”
It’s no secret that Wu-Tang draws major inspiration from Chinese culture, and this collaboration with Milk is no different. The collection is comprised of eight different longwear lipsticks, each of which are named after the I Ching Trigrams: Sacred, Fire, Chi, Flow, Frequency, Source, Cypher, and Ruckus. All of the colors fall in the pink and red family, ranging from a pale baby pink to a deep oxblood, and come in three different formulas (high shine, nourishing matte and dimensional glitter).
“Beyond the common denominator of Wu’s and Milk’s NYC cultural background, I’m excited about this collaboration for the Yin, or Feminine energy, that it invokes,” said RZA in a statement. He continues, “Milk Makeup has been bold in creating beauty products with unique ingredients. This collab dives deeper into that realm and I’m sure will inspire the Wisdom, Beauty, and Strength of today’s Modern Warriors.”
Like the rest of Milk’s products, the lipsticks are completely vegan. However, unlike Milk’s original lip color formula, the Wu-Tang formulas feature some new ingredients. Chinese-inspired ingredients, including sacred lotus water, cherry blossom, ginseng, bamboo shoots, and Chinese red dates help protect, hydrate, and soothe the lips upon application.
The design of the collection is also unique to the collaboration. The lipsticks are encased in solid black bullets, which is a stark contrast to Milk’s typical white, gray, and clear packaging. When you open up the bullet, a gold dragon wraps around the stick. The outer packaging is also solid black, and features the Wu-Tang “W,” as well as a new exclusive symbol that blends Milk’s logo with the Chinese symbol for beauty.
The campaign for the collection also includes a stunning visual produced by Whooden Collective and stars R&B singer Teyana Taylor, whom RZA and the Milk team feel epitomizes the character of a Wu Warrior. RZA also composed an original track to accompany the video.
“The track is a mixture of Wu classic hip-hop with a few ounces of ‘Yin’ energy,” RZA told Billboard. “The rugged-yet-beautiful movements of Teyana accompanied by the products’ look and packaging led the editor, my collaborator Tariq, and myself to make the music resonate.”
Milk Makeup co-founder, and director of the visual, Georgie Greville said in a statement, “Teyana is using Lip Color as a coat of armor. She’s a badass. She is exactly who she is. She’s unapologetic in every aspect of her life.” Throughout the visual, Taylor wears an all-black battle outfit — a skin-tight long-sleeved mesh shirt matched with shiny leather joggers and combat boots — to complement the color “flow” on her lips. She performs kung fu-inspired choreography on a roof with the NYC skyline in the background, and closes the video by throwing up Wu-Tang Clan’s signature “W” hand sign.
“[Working with Milk and Wu-Tang] was a no-brainer,” said Taylor to Billboard. “I have been a huge fan of Wu-Tang forever and I love the modern energy of Milk Makeup. When I saw the quality of the lipstick with the custom-sculpted dragon on the bullet, I was impressed — it’s like a work of art.”
She continued, “[The collection] makes me feel empowered, because I definitely feel like a warrior in how I live my life. When I’m rehearsing for my shows, performing, and getting to share my craft with the world, it allows me to access serious personal power to do what I do. I love the idea that lipstick can be war paint of sorts. A power lip is called a power lip for a reason.”
The limited-edition collaboration collection will live exclusively on MilkMakeup.com. Each of the lipsticks can be purchased individually for $55 each, or as a total collection for $440. The collection also includes a throwing stars-inspired 24-karat-gold compact mirror ($75) and pin set ($18), each of which can be bought separately.