Alcone 65th Anniversary @Capitale: Interview with CEO Maria Stewart

November 13, 2017 4:00 PM

No make-up company has a more storied history firmly ensconced in New York showbiz. When three quirky guys with a knack for percussion needed cobalt body paint to turn themselves into The Blue Man Group, they went to Alcone. When Julie Taymor needed to portray her characters in the Lion King, with both human and animal characteristics, she went to Alcone. When Maria Björnson and Christopher Tucker needed a make-up scheme for a mysterious figure with a face that was severely damaged on one side for Phantom of the Opera, they went to Alcone. It’s where showgirls, drag queens, performers and make-up enthusiasts of all stripes have been stocking up on supplies since 1952.

So it makes perfect sense that the Alcone company, which has been owned and operated by the Mallardi family since 1982, would celebrate 65 years in business with a blow-out bash at Capitale populated by the denizens of New York’s arts and nightlife scene. Lady Bunny go-go danced behind the turntables; Ronnie Spector belted out “Be My Baby;” and Lypsinka did what Lypsinka does. Kembra Pfahler brought her Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black to the stage (in body paint from Alcone, of course), and told us that before she discovered Alcone, she used to cover her body in house paint for her stage shows until she ended up in the hospital. “Alcone saved my life!” she said. While presenting Vince Mallardi and Mary Mallardi, the recently retired executives of Alcone, with commemorative body-paint butt prints, Kembra explained what loyal customers at Alcone’s midtown shop have known since the beginning. “You don’t have to be perfect for Vince and Mary to love you. But Alcone will make you beautiful!”

Alcone’s new CEO, Maria Stewart, who is Vince and Mary’s youngest sister, took a moment from all the excitement to chat with Twelv about Alcone’s storied past and dynamic future.

 

Alcone has a wonderful history, selling lashes and pancake make-up to showgirls from the back of an NYC pharmacy in 1952. Professional make-up artists from theatre, film and television are still some of your biggest clients. Can you tell us some shows that have featured Alcone cosmetics?

We’re not ones to name drop because we like to honor our customers’ privacy! But we do have an autograph wall in the store, which includes Diana Ross, Sarah Jessica Parker and Bette Midler. It’s been such an honor for us to provide make-up for most of the shows on Broadway: Cats, The Lion King, Phantom of the Opera, Wicked. We work with shows, big and small, from black box theatres to Broadway. Most of the news anchors use our make-up too, we have some great anti-shine products that work great for television and film.

 

What makes Alcone’s inventory unique, and particularly in demand by make-up artists, among the wide range of products available today?

The range of products we carry has always been diverse. We deal with everything from beauty to special effects to gore. We make sure that everything we carry is safe on the skin and easy to remove, but effective in achieving the look that a make-up artist needs. A lot of times, people come to us with a vision and we help them make it a reality. We have products that can make you look like you’ve been in a fight, and products that can cover up any kind of skin pigmentation issue to give you a flawless finish. We carry it all, and we help you learn how to use the products.

 

Which make-up brands are available at Alcone?

We carry make-up and tools from Viseart, Visiora, Kryolan, Cozzette and many other brands. Recently, we took everything we learned from our years in the business and made our own line, Limelight by Alcone. All of the products are free of harmful chemicals, and the line includes skin care, eye shadow palettes, lip color, brushes, eye liners, mascara and foundation. It’s professional-grade make-up that everyone can use. We have women all over the country representing the brand as Limelight by Alcone Beauty Guides. We are so happy to see people from all walks of life, and lots of stay-at-home moms, making extra income by sharing our products with their friends and communities.

 

How often are new products added to the shop?

We are always looking for new products that our customers will love! A few years ago, my sister Mary was on an airplane to Italy, and the flight attendant was passing out disposable hand towels that my sister loved. That was the inspiration for our Make-off Remover Wipes, which are paraffin-free and have a beautiful cucumber scent. They can remove just about anything, and they are easy on your skin. No rinsing needed! They’re super soft and made in Italy just like the hand towels my sister got on the airplane.

 

What are your most popular products of all time?

The eye-shadow palettes from Cozzette, which are vegan, are so popular, we can barely keep them in the shop!

 

What products would you suggest for a make-up enthusiast who is shopping at Alcone for the first time?

If you’re learning how to do make-up, it’s really important to make sure you’re using good-quality products. Sometimes when people can’t achieve the look they want, they don’t realize that it’s not their technique that’s at fault, it’s the product they’re using. A good place to start is with our beauty palettes, particularly eye shadow and foundation. Start to play with color theory and tone matching. Practice on your friends and learn how to work with different skin tones and undertones.

 

Is there anything else we should know about Alcone?

It has been such an honor for us to serve make-up professionals since 1952, and we are so happy to see Limelight by Alcone sold all over the country. We believe in the power of make-up. When someone is distressed because of a scar, blemish or birthmark, we are so happy to help them find the corrective products they need, which are waterproof and can conceal just about anything. We are a family company, and our family includes the make-up artists who work in our stores. We made a conscious decision to hire active, working make-up artists. We have two artists at the store who have been on Face Off on the SYFY channel, and we are so happy to see our artists get out there. We root for them! We are so grateful to all of the artists and performers who have come to us over the years, and entrusted us with their vision. We would not be here, 65 years later, without their creativeness.

 

 

INTERVIEWED BY KAREN FRAGALA-SMITH 

 

PHOTO CREDIT: MAO PR, SANIAGO FELIPE, ANDREAS HOFWEBER

 

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