By and  on June 25, 2010

PARIS — Lloyd Simmonds was introduced as Yves Saint Laurent’s international makeup artist at the press presentation of the new Rouge Pur Couture lipstick line here Wednesday.

“Lloyd Simmonds is not just a makeup artist; he is a true artist,” said Renaud de Lesquen, president of YSL Beauté, the L’Oréal division overseeing Yves Saint Laurent Parfums, among other brands. “His incredible background in theater, arts, fashion and beauty mixed with his amazing talent, vision and creativity will push YSL into a new era of color.”

Simmonds has many ideas percolating.

“Yves Saint Laurent is a brand that has such a mythical, magical history. It’s all about color, it’s about seduction,” he said, adding texture and light also play major roles. “It was never safe, always a little bit dangerous. Those are the things I really want to bring back — a sense of excitement, a little shock.”

Simmonds’ first full color cosmetics collection will be for fall 2011 and his stamp will appear on other projects, including a nail story.

Simmonds has long had a fascination with color. “I always mix and match; I almost never use a product as it comes out of the bottle,” he said. “I manipulate colors so they suit the person.”

Already, YSL designer Stefano Pilati was highly involved in creating the brand’s 18-tint Rouge Pur Couture lipstick line, which is due out on Sept. 13 in France and in early October elsewhere. Its colors riff on three key, saturated hues: red, fuchsia and orange. “They are mixed with skin tones,” explained Roberta Girodot, international director of makeup artistry for Yves Saint Laurent. These include black-, light- and olive-colored variations.

An almost black lipstick and a white lipstick are included in the line and can be mixed with other colors. Rouge Pur Couture gold-colored lipstick cases, designed by Pilati, are covered with reflective surfaces.

Advertising for the line (whose lipsticks will each retail for 29.50 euros, or $36.35 at current exchange, in France) features Ginta Lapina photographed by Terry Richardson.

Simmonds’ appointment and Rouge Pur Couture herald a new era at YSL. Last Friday in New York, the day after the Belle d’Opium fragrance launch party there, de Lesquen quoted L’Oréal chief executive officer Jean-Paul Agon as describing the Great Recession as more like a catharsis. “We realized that we have to redefine the rules of the game and reassess what our métier is,” said de Lesquen.

The result is a focus on fewer and more key product introductions with a strong emphasis on innovation. This involves revamping YSL’s portfolio of high-profile brands, hence the new generation of Opium and Rouge Pur Couture. To do this, YSL is exploring its roots and determining what constitutes the real essence of luxury today. Some of the equation involves shedding old taboos and being a little surprising, said de Lesquen, echoing Simmonds’ sentiment.

That’s part of the reason the iconic French brand had its scent launch party in New York, invited bloggers and broadcast the event on Twitter.

YSL’s next frontier is skin care, a territory it had tried to penetrate before. But this time, YSL — formerly owned by PPR — is backed by L’Oréal’s massive research and development muscle. A treatment line, whose formulas are inspired by medical research, is slated for a September 2011 launch. 

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