OLIVER ECHAUDEMAISON

CREATIVE DIRECTOR AT GUERLAIN COSMETICS

WRITTEN BY NATHALIE HELAL
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The creative director of Guerlain is a bright, easy-going, witty and sometimes elusive persona, who seem to belong to those over whom time has no take. Simultaneously directing and setting trends, this “missionary of beauty” intuitively knows what he owes to the past, without ever losing sight of the requirements of the future.

You have remained the creative director of Guerlain for 14 years. How do you manage to renew yourself?

It is due to the notion of having only just arrived as creative director … and explains why I feel like I have no settled routines. The notion seems almost contradictory with my interest in the long history of the brand, which attracted me in the first place. Almost two centuries of creative history, something I find immensely fascinating. Just think, before the end of the 19th century, red lip makeup was liquid, and Guerlain was the first brand having invented red lip make-up in the form of a stick, just to mention an example. The idea came to Guerlain quite naturally as they had a manufacturer of candles in the family. By mixing the red liquid with a candle, they created the perfect “packaging”, creating the stick we know today. Revolutionary, simple and genius! Another example which astounds me from within the brand, is the powder called “Ladies in all climates” (from 1897, ed.) destined for the rich clientele traveling the transatlantic steamers. The powder would prevent any inconvenient shiny complexion on these cosmopolitan women during their voyage.

What is your opinion, can beauty become untrendy?

We build on conceptions that already exist and beauty evolves continuously. Women change in size and shape. Have a look back to the era of the silent movies: you will find two types of women, the vamp, with huge eyes, and the ingenuous woman, with a keen look. Acting came through in mimicry and makeup. The latter became a very poignant feature, demonstrating to what extent it is all playacting! Every woman seem herself and yet disguised at the same time. Makeup reveals the character, but does not make travesty of them. In 14 years, I have made many recipes evolve with the collaboration of the Helios Centre (LVMH Research Laboratory, ed.) Reaching thinner and richer shades employing new compounds. With Guerlain makeup is has become much easier to obtain a professional result for the average user.

What element of makeup would you improve in the future?

No doubt, products for the complexion. Because the teint reflects what we are, inherently and viscerally.

Read the full feature in the TIME issue

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