Af­ter spend­ing the past two years in Asia, Cau­dalie founder Mathilde Thomas is adding a South Korean-in­spired essence to her French skin­care brand’s lineup.

How Cau­dalie founder Mathilde Thomas is bridg­ing the di­vide be­tween Euro­pean and Asian at­ti­tudes to­ward skin­care.

Fashion (Canada) - - Contents - By Sarah Daniel

As far as world beauty philoso­phies go, there is per­haps no greater di­vide than the one be­tween the pared-down French ap­proach to primp­ing and the rig­or­ous South Korean dou­bledigit skin­care-step reg­i­men. Most women’s bath­room cab­i­nets don’t re­flect this di­chotomy, but snoop the top shelf of any se­ri­ous skin­care en­thu­si­ast and you’re likely to find a mix of cult-favourite French phar­macy la­bels and in­ven­tive K-beauty prod­ucts.

French brand Cau­dalie is merg­ing the two ap­proaches to beauty with its gly­colic-acid-in­fused Vinop­er­fect bright­en­ing essence, a South Korean-in­spired tonic (ap­plied af­ter toner to hy­drate skin and prep it for serum) that founder Mathilde Thomas de­vel­oped af­ter she and her fam­ily re­lo­cated to Hong Kong nearly two years ago so she could grow her busi­ness. “For beauty, Korea is the most fas­ci­nat­ing of the Asian coun­tries,” she says over a plate of tuna tartare at Sant Am­broeus, her favourite Up­per East Side haunt in New York. The restau­rant also hap­pens to be a few blocks away from the brand new L’ap­parte­ment Cau­dalie Spa, which is de­signed to look and feel as in­ti­mate as a Parisian pied-à-terre.

Now that she lives in Asia, Thomas makes monthly trips to Seoul to suss out brands like Too Cool for School (“the pack­ag­ing is hilarious”) and Sul­wha­soo (“they are very in­no­va­tive”). She also opened La Maison Cau­dalie—a bou­tique spa where she has learned about South Korean beauty cul­ture from its clients, in­clud­ing lay­er­ing skin­care and the mer­its of the dou­ble cleanse.

“First, they clean with oil,” she ex­plains. “Then, they clean with foam. It’s bet­ter!” Thomas says she has em­braced the more thor­ough two-step face wash be­cause of Hong Kong’s smog, adding that the process in­spired Cau­dalie’s VineAc­tiv an­tiox­i­dant-in­fused an­tipol­lu­tion range. While in Man­hat­tan Thomas’s clients want retinol and peels, her clients in South Korea have dif­fer­ent beauty goals. “They don’t care about firm­ing or re­mov­ing wrin­kles,” she says. “What they want to achieve is skin [that is like the ly­chee]: wa­tery and translu­cent.”

In ad­di­tion to Korean trends, Thomas is in­spired by her nine- and 13-yearold daugh­ters’ beauty ob­ses­sions. “They love Kylie Jen­ner,” she laments. “It breaks my heart. It’s a school of bad taste.” Thomas is work­ing on a cos­met­ics line her­self and will launch a top-se­cret prod­uct later this year. And while it’s safe to as­sume that it isn’t tar­get­ing Gen-Z, it just might quell her daugh­ters’ Kar­dashian ob­ses­sion. “I hope they’ll love it,” she says. “It smells good, it looks good—but I’m not Kylie Jen­ner.”


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