The Met Gala has given us more than just great celebrity style and beauty moments. (We’ll never forget you, Kim K.’s bleached eyebrows.) It can also take some of the credit for the new Jason Wu for Caudalie Beauty Elixir.
A few years ago, Canadian-raised fashion designer Wu and actress bestie Diane Kruger swung by the Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa in the Plaza Hotel in New York before the buzzy fundraising ball. “We just thought it was the most wonderful spa in New York,” he says. “I became obsessed with it. I was going every month.”
Wu was introduced to the French beauty brand’s co-founder Mathilde Thomas, who was living in New York at the time. A few years and a super-tight friendship later — the two practically finish each others’ sentences — they joined creative forces. Wu has designed a limited edition bottle for the brand’s signature beauty elixir. The popular face mist, which contains rose extract, myrrh, orange blossom water, and grape (Caudalie’s signature ingredient) is his favourite product in the line.
We sat down with them both to discuss the collabo, rosé vs. red wine, and K-beauty.
How did the idea for the Jason Wu for Caudalie Beauty Elixir come about?
MT: He was our best client. [Laughs]
JW: Mathilde heard that I was a fan and we met at the spa…
MT: …And he told me he loved my beauty elixir, that he was using it all the time. I really wanted him to decorate the bottle because he’s very gifted and talented. This product has a great story. I discovered it almost 20 years ago. I was working with this doctor in Paris and he told me that he found this old recipe in a book sold on the banks of the Seine. The recipe is from the Queen Isabella of Hungary. Legend says in the 16th century, she was 72 years old and the king of Poland [fell for her] because she had such a beautiful complexion. It was because of this lotion of mint, rosemary, melissa, rose, orange blossom, myrrh, benzoin. So, we added some grape and we re-interpreted it.
What was your vision for the bottle, Jason?
My DNA is lace; all my laces are bought from France. I thought that was a natural connection. For spring/summer 2016, I made these dresses out of six or seven kind of laces that are embroidered together and attached by hand. I thought the idea of craftsmanship and attention to detail is DNA for both brands and I thought it was a nice way to dress it in lace. But not a normal lace, a special lace.
What surprised you about each other when working together?
MT: I was happy to discover someone super sweet, super humble with their feet on the ground and driven and smart.
JW: She’s so cool. I was in Hong Kong last year and I went to visit their house there and I’m very happy to have her as a friend now. I just love her passion. I think Mathilde was able to create something very successful that was not really the same as everything you would find out there.
Mathilde, you moved to Hong Kong last year to expand the brand. How has that changed the way you approach beauty?
MT: [In South Korea] they can layer 10 products before putting on their makeup and they have beautiful skin. I’ve been looking at the Korean products and I have been very inspired by all of their essences and sheet masks.
JW: I’ve been trying to get her to make a sheet mask.
MT: It’s going to happen! It’s going to happen! Just for you.
JW: I grew up in a culture where beauty and skincare is the most important, before makeup. I still think that if you just did a little mascara or a lip on beautiful natural skin, it’s the most chic. I’m not very into heavy makeup.
What’s been the most surreal moment of your career?
MT: Last year we celebrated Caudalie’s 20th birthday in Paris. We’re a team of 650 people now so there was 450 people in the room and I was with [husband and co-founder] Bertrand and I was pinching myself.
JW: Me, well it’s got to be the Inauguration [in 2008 when First Lady Michelle Obama wore one of his designs]. That was amazing. That really punctuated my career and really gave me a great start.
OK, rapid fire time! Favourite meal to cook at home?
JW: I love roast chicken.
MT: For the summer, I’ve been doing a Mediterranean diet so there’s always tomato, mozzarella, basil, olive oil, salt on the table, but also cantaloupe with prosciutto and salad with a lot of grilled almonds and a lot of herbs.
Favourite summer drink?
MT: I’m still in love with red wine from my parents’ [vineyard in France]. it’s my favourite. The 2009 from Château Smith Haut Lafitte.
Beach or pool?
MT: My kids surf every morning. My husband surfs. I try to surf. So, yes, we’re ocean people.
JW: I’m a pool person.
Summer or winter?
MT: Winter. My parents met in the French ski team. I was born and raised in Grenoble, which is the in the middle of the French Mountains. I love skiing.
Fall is like the New Year for fashion and beauty. What trends are you hoping to see?
JW: I think this fall it’s all about individuality. Fashion is changing. We have to change with the times and so I think there’s going to be more independence and less same-same than ever before. I feel like this is the time for independent brands to succeed because I think that people are oversaturated with commonalities. As a consumer, I’m looking for things that have a voice. I don’t want what everyone else has.