An era is ending at Chanel: after nearly three decades of helming the iconic brand's makeup creation division together, Dominique Moncourtois and Heidi Morawetz will retire on Jan. 1. They will be succeeded by Peter Philips.

"This is an historic moment for us," said Maureen Chiquet, global chief executive officer of Chanel, in an exclusive interview Wednesday afternoon. "We feel very passionately about creativity at Chanel, and we give our creative people the reins, so choosing a new creative person is not taken lightly for us. We've had the most dynamic duo in makeup working for us for the past 30 years, and we've benefited greatly from their creativity and expertise. And now they're passing the baton to a new generation."

Moncourtois, international director of makeup creation, joined Chanel in 1969 after working briefly as a cinematographer's assistant and a professor of makeup at the Film and Theater Academy. Hired by the house's namesake, Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, he worked with her until her death in 1971. In 1980, Moncourtois helped hire Morawetz as director of the makeup creation studio. A graduate of the School of Art and Design and the School of Fashion Design in Vienna, Morawetz had spent more than a decade working with leading photographers such as Helmut Newton and Patrick Demarchelier as a makeup artist.

During their tenure, Moncourtois and Morawetz masterminded some of Chanel's biggest cosmetics hits, including Vamp and Black Satin nail polishes and Rouge Allure lipstick. Even the pair's Paris studio has influenced Chanel counters: late last year, the company used it as an inspiration when creating a store-in-store specialty store concept for its highest-end U.S. doors. Together, they initiated Chanel's limited edition Star Products — fashion-forward color cosmetics compacts tied to what's headed down Chanel's runway that season.

Moncourtois has often described himself as a technician, calling Morawetz the "aesthete."

"Dominique has always been on the forefront of technology, both in textures and delivery systems," said Chiquet. "And Heidi has an incredible eye for color. Together, they've been unstoppable."

Chiquet, who joined Chanel four years ago after spending 14 years at Gap Inc., added she always saw Chanel makeup as "the gold standard."

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