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Karl Lagerfeld’s Manga Vision

The designer has cherry-picked a selection of hues for a special holiday collection for Japanese beauty firm Shu Uemura.

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PARIS — While an unabashed fan of black and white, Karl Lagerfeld is showing off his colorful side.

This story first appeared in the July 19, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

After more than two decades of using Shu Uemura makeup to tint his dreamy illustrations — from fashion sketches to political cartoons — he’s cherry-picked a selection of hues for the Japanese beauty firm’s special holiday collection.

“It was not easy to make a limited choice with all the things they have and do,” explained the designer. “It all was supposed to go with the doll I designed for them, the mood, the spirit.”

He was referring to the little character he created with red eyes and a jet-black bob, dressed in Lagerfeld’s signature high white collar and black tie. Known affectionately as Mon Shu (a play on the French term of endearment “mon chou”), she appears on the packaging he designed for the 17-stockkeeping-unit line called Karl Lagerfeld for Shu Uemura.

“I wanted to invent my personal vision of a Japanese manga,” he said.

In fact, there were plenty of reasons Lagerfeld signed on to the project, whose products can be mixed and matched “like a little collection….I use their eye shadow colors for my sketching. It’s better than pastel; nobody has colors like that,” he said.

Lagerfeld lensed the makeup line’s advertising campaign, keeping in mind what he called “Eastern, perfect, mysterious, modern beauty.”

Certain iconic products from Shu Uemura are included in the collection, such as the cleansing oil, which Uemura, a Tokyo-born Hollywood-based makeup artist, began mixing and selling in 1960. It remains among the label’s best-selling products in Asia. (Uemura died in 2007.)

“The brand’s second emblematic and cult product is the UV Under Base [Mousse],” said Ludovic Engrand, Shu Uemura’s expert makeup artist.

There’s also an eyelash curler.

“It’s become a mythic product,” continued Engrand, who explained it is one of Shu Uemura’s top sellers on its U.S. Web site. “It was especially customized for Karl Lagerfeld, with red silicon instead of black and, evidently, the presence of ‘Mon Shu,’ which [hangs] at the end of the eyelash curler.”

Lagerfeld created two different eye-and-cheek palettes — based on smoky green and on smoky purple. Mon Shu sports the look of each on the top of the associated compact, which contains six shades, including red.

“Red is a symbolic color for Karl Lagerfeld, because he always dreamed of a red eye shadow to make his sketches. So they created it in this palette for him,” said Engrand.

The new line also boasts a dark purple gel eyeliner and two pairs of false eyelashes. One is made of red-and-black fabric, a first for the Japanese brand.

There are four lip shades, as well: Mon Shu Red, Luxe Burgundy, Celebrity Beige and Parisienne Pink. Nail colors come in Karl Black, Shu Shu Red and Royal Beige, and each is sold with a strip of nail stickers featuring Mon Shu.

To demonstrate a look achieved with the new makeup, Engrand swept a models’ lids with green and black eye shadow prior to affixing a lush pair of fabric lashes. Her cheeks were tinged a slightly rosy tone, and lips a fresh red.

A mini brush kit and a makeup box, artisan-crafted in Kyoto, are part of the line, too.

Some outer packaging includes the seemingly hand-scrawled initials SUKL (for Shu Uemura Karl Lagerfeld).

“Blending the borderless creativity of Karl Lagerfeld to the makeup expertise of Shu Uemura, we believe this collaboration will bring fun, excitement and modernity to the brand,” said Vincent Nida, Shu Uemura’s general manager worldwide.

Could the collection become part of the Shu Uemura portfolio?

“We enjoyed very much working with Karl Lagerfeld, so everything is possible,” said Nida.

The line will first be introduced in October in the U.K., U.S. (online) and Canada. The following month, it is to be launched in other countries, including Japan, China, Australia, Ireland, Belgium and France, which also has a Shu Uemura e-tail site. Altogether, the collection will be carried in 18 countries through approximately 400 doors while supplies last or until February 2013.

In France, an eye-and-cheek palette will sell for 69 euros, or $84.65 at current exchange, and the lipstick for 29.50 euros, or $36.20. The eyeliner is to be 27 euros, or $33.10; the nail polish, 22 euros, or $27; the premium eyelashes, 56 euros, or $68.70, and the mini eyelashes, 28 euros, or $34.30.

The eyelash curler will retail for 35 euros, or $42.90; the mini brush set, 49 euros, or $60.10, and the makeup box, 300 euros, or $367.80. The 450-ml. makeup remover is to be 86 euros, or $105.45, and the 50-g. base mousse, 46 euros, or $56.40.

Founded in 1983 and controlled by L’Oréal since 2003, Shu Uemura is said to generate approximately 80 percent of its business in Asia.

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