He might not be as famous as Max Factor (yet), but in the beauty biz, Peter Philips is regularly referred to as “the most powerful man in makeup.” As the recently appointed global creative director of
Chanel Make Up, Philips has a very big job to do — and he knows it. “The challenge is to keep Chanel edgy and modern but also retain the values of a luxury brand and offer beautiful, quality products,” he explains. These days, makeup artists are winning mega-contracts with fashion houses and cosmetics brands and becoming almost as famous as the faces they work on. It’s a competitive business: To be a star, you need to know the “right” people, discover the next top model and work with the best photographers. Timing is everything and, as fate would have it, Philips’ timing was perfect. After graduating from Antwerp’s Académies des Beaux Arts in the late ’80s, he famously turned his focus from fashion design to makeup. “I knew I wanted to do something in fashion, and back- stage at my friends’ shows, I saw the makeup, kits and brushes and thought ‘Oh, I can do that.’”
He moved to Paris and began collaborating with the darkly trendy Belgium designers Veronique Branquinho and Olivier Theyskens and forward-thinking photographers like Willy Vanderperre. The first project that Philips has entirely developed for Chanel is Rouge Coco, a new range of lipsticks inspired by the young Gabrielle Chanel. His goal? To intro duce the luxurious feminine ritual of applying lipstick to a younger group of lipgloss devotees. “I think a woman who wears lipstick likes to reapply,” he explains. “After dinner, after lunch, whatever. The gesture is part of being a woman — it’s a beautiful thing.”
• “A lot of my inspiration comes from the universe of Chanel. The archives are like Ali Baba’s cave. There are products from the ’20s and ’30s that are so precious, you touch them with white gloves.”
• “Working with Vanessa Paradis on this campaign was a dream come true. She isn’t a traditional beauty. She has a very cute face — a bit of a funny face — but I think that she’s drop-dead gorgeous.”
• “The most amazing woman I’ve ever seen is Sophia Loren. When she talks, she touches you; you feel like you are being touched by greatness.”
• “A fashion show is a fantasy: It is the vision of a designer translated into a 20-minute show. It’s not reality; it’s a dream.”
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