In con­ver­sa­tion with makeup ge­nius Peter Philips.

A man and his makeup in the spot­light.

ELLE (Canada) - - Contents - By Vanessa Craft

peter Philips is in a re­flec­tive mood. Sit­ting in his colour­ful suite at the Crosby Street Ho­tel in New York, the soft-spo­ken creative and im­age di­rec­tor for Dior Makeup is paus­ing to take stock of his im­pact­ful—and in­flu­en­tial­—ca­reer. “I never in­tended to cre­ate prod­ucts; I just wanted to be a makeup artist,” he says, lean­ing for­ward against the pull of the cushy char­treuse sofa. “I wanted to do fash­ion shoots and work on avant-garde projects. I grew into be­ing a creative di­rec­tor, and along the way I dis­cov­ered all as­pects of beauty.” Chances are you’ve felt the im­pact of Philips’ bound­ary-push­ing work. He is, af­ter all, the man re­spon­si­ble for mak­ing beauty prod­ucts that sell out faster than you can meekly ask “Can I be added to the wait-list?” In the early days of his ca­reer, Philips made a name for him­self at a Raf Si­mons shoot, when he deftly drew Mickey Mouse on the face of model Rob­bie Snelders for the in­au­gu­ral is­sue of V Magazine. The for­mer global creative di­rec­tor for Chanel makeup has worked with pho­tog­ra­phy greats such as Irv­ing Penn, Bruce We­ber and Richard Ave­don, and his artis­tic tal­ent is wielded each sea­son at Fendi and Dries Van Noten. Philips joined Dior in 2014. His re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in­clude makeup di­rec­tion for the cou­ture and ready-to-wear run­way ex­trav­a­gan­zas as well as con­jur­ing up prod­ucts for four dif­fer­ent makeup col­lec­tions a year.

In short, his in­nate cu­rios­ity and imag­i­na­tion are bound­less. “I tell sto­ries based on my pal­ettes and my col­lec­tions,” he says. “Since the day I started in makeup, I have never thrown away a prod­uct. I even keep empty lip­sticks. I also col­lect lit­tle bits of fab­ric that in­spire me, and I tell my­self that they would make a magnificent lip­stick with the same shine.”

Speak­ing of magnificent, one of Philips’ big­gest im­pacts was tak­ing the beloved and iconic Rouge Dior lip­stick in new di­rec­tions: matte tex­tures and un­usual shades, in­clud­ing grey—which, by the way, flew off the shelves. How does some­thing so sub­ver­sive suc­ceed? “It’s the peo­ple who work on our Dior coun­ters,” says Philips, with a hum­ble shrug. “They love makeup. They got re­ally ex­cited about all the colours and started do­ing om­brés and gra­da­tions, and it caught ev­ery­one’s eye. They sold like hot cakes!”

Not that there was any other pos­si­ble out­come. Philips seems to know what makeup women want be­fore we do; he also chal­lenges us to try things we might oth­er­wise re­ject. (See: grey lip­stick.) It’s as if he pos­sesses a magic wand that makes beauty prod­ucts in­stantly cov­etable. Take the new Pro Liner Eye­liner, which made its run­way de­but dur­ing the spring/sum­mer 2017 cou­ture show. Part cal­lig­ra­phy pen and part “if I don’t own this, I’ll die,” it makes pre­ci­sion eye­lin­ing a breeze. Or the For­ever & Ever Wear Ex­treme Per­fec­tion & Hold Makeup Base, used for the spring/sum­mer 2017 ready-towear show, which works like “dou­ble-sided tape, grip­ping the skin and the foun­da­tion so it lasts longer.”

That par­tic­u­lar ready-to-wear show was a big, his­toric deal. It was the much-lauded de­but of Maria Grazia Chi­uri, the first fe­male de­signer to ever lead Dior, and Philips’ first time col­lab­o­rat­ing with her. Chi­uri’s boldly feminist and con­fi­dent cloth­ing re­quired a look that ref­er­enced mod­els in their nat­u­ral state of beauty, and Philips cre­ated a lu­mi­nous, skin-fo­cused makeup col­lec­tion. He calls the spring makeup, which fea­tures nat­u­ral-pink lips and a soft eye rimmed with a touch of mas­cara, “a start­ing point that plays with the ra­di­ance of a nat­u­ral yet con­firmed fem­i­nin­ity.”

Al­though this is a new era for Dior, look­ing back through his­tory is why Paris-based Philips is in New York. Later this evening, he will at­tend the star-stud­ded launch of The Art of Color, a tome of artis­tic ref­er­ence and colour—the kind you’d ex­pect to see sit­ting atop a Jean Pas­caud side­board with a Kandin­sky hang­ing above. Fea­tur­ing in­ter­views, art his­tory and im­ages from three of Dior’s creative direc­tors of makeup, Serge Lutens (1967–1980), Tyen (1980–2014) and Philips, the book is a com­pre­hen­sive re­minder of the house’s legacy. Work­ing on this project, Philips says, re­con­nected him with his roots as an artist. “Au­dac­ity, cre­ativ­ity and vi­sion are at the heart of Dior,” he ex­plains. “This is a dar­ing house with un­con­ven­tional beauty shoots that have been go­ing on here since day one.”

As Philips’ ca­reer has evolved, so has the world of beauty. “Now when we talk about the fash­ion and beauty in­dus­tries, it’s a big ma­chine,” he says. “There’s a dan­ger that you’ll lose the creative part, that you’ll lose the vi­sion­ary part. It’s easy to fall back on [chas­ing] easy sales.” Does that mean he is al­ways fo­cused on the next big thing? He shakes his head. “I don’t try to cre­ate the trend. I cre­ate prod­ucts that guar­an­tee beauty.” n

Mod­els back­stage at Dior’s s/s 2017 show; Dior Rouge Dior Matte Fin­ish Lip­stick in Mon­taigne Matte ($43); Peter Philips; iconic makeup looks show­cased at the launch of The Art of Color in NYC (far right)

Philips cre­ated a sharp graphic eye for s/s 2017 cou­ture us­ing Dior Dior­show Pro Liner Eye­liner ($36) and used Dior Diorskin For­ever & Ever Wear Ex­treme Per­fec­tion & Hold Makeup Base ($60) to prime mod­els’ skin. For de­tails, see Shop­ping Guide.

The Art of Color ($150) is a cel­e­bra­tion of glo­ri­ous, out­spo­ken colour and artistry by Dior creative direc­tors past and present.

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