It’s been a busy year for many Americans, and we all look — no offense — like unemployed slackers with no hobbies or prospects compared to Ariana Grande, whose every month of 2023 has featured either a life-changing creative experience, million-dollar business deal, or historic act of labor solidarity.
At some point Grande was given a weekend off, and she spent it not in bed, nor on the beach, but in the studio, re-recording songs from her first album, Yours Truly, for a 10-year-anniversary edition that will drop on August 25. “As a surprise for my fans,” Grande tells Allure, her voice sweet and lightly fried. She felt strange, traveling across a decade of pop stardom in the space of a weekend. “It’s like, I was so young,” she says. “But I knew exactly what I wanted.” Then she laughs.
Then there’s the Wicked movie, which Grande has been filming since 2022 and which is currently on pause due to the SAG-AFTRA strike. She can’t talk about playing Galinda the Good Witch even if she wants to, and she seems like she kind of wants to: Her Zoom username is “galinda;” her hand bears a freshly inked tattoo of the character from the L. Frank Baum books; at one point during our short conversation, she alludes to “one of the most deeply special and transformative and fulfilling experiences of my creative life in London [from] the past year and a half.”
Instead, the one thing she really wanted to discuss was the new Sweetener Foundation from her makeup line, r.e.m. beauty, which launches August 24. (And one thing she did not want to discuss was anything else, or so relayed a representative prior to the interview.)
Allure first met Grande in 2021, when she launched r.e.m. beauty, the result of a licensing deal with the beauty incubator Forma Brands. Recently, Grande bought back all of r.e.m. beauty’s physical assets. She speaks about the move with a gentle decisiveness, like a parent explaining divorce to their child: “When you recognize that things aren’t working, you have to put your heads together and try to respectfully figure it out,” Grande said. What she didn’t say: Forma Brands filed for bankruptcy in January 2023, owing nearly $900 million to investors, according to the Wall Street Journal. Grande purchased r.e.m.’s inventory for a reported $15 million, and the brand installed Michelle Shigemasa, formerly of Smashbox and Murad, as its new chief executive. “I love her so much,” Grande said. “And, yeah, those things are always really tricky, but it was all very loving and respectful. Everyone wants what’s best for r.e.m.”