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Peter Philips’ Colorful Plans for Dior

The new creative and image director of Christian Dior makeup said his first “full-on creation” would be unveiled for autumn 2015.

PARIS — Peter Philips, the new creative and image director of Christian Dior makeup, said his first “full-on creation” would be unveiled for autumn 2015. And bold color looks are likely to be a key ingredient.

This story first appeared in the March 14, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“For me, the house itself stands for luxury, of course, but it’s color — which is exceptional,” he said during his first interview since being named at Dior earlier this week. “They’re not afraid of taking risks there. It’s Christian Dior’s philosophy about color, the way he talked about it.”

Other descriptors Philips used for Dior were “ultrafeminine” and “elegance.”

Philips has been a friend of the house’s creative director Raf Simons for 20 years. The Dutch duo is due to meet in Antwerp, Belgium, to chat this Saturday over coffee, then next week Philips will visit Simons’ office.

Philips’ office on Paris’ Rue de Téhéran is a work in progress. “I got a few tables, chairs, a beautiful new carpet — and we’re still figuring out how the computers work,” he said.

Philips spent the past days with his marketing team, focusing on each color cosmetics category.
“They showed me every formula, where it comes from, the history of it,” he said. Philips was presented products in the pipeline, too.

“I don’t want to go fully into the archives,” he exclaimed. “That will come.”

On Tuesday, Philips had made his first foray to Hélios, Dior parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s new research facility for its fragrance and cosmetics activities, just outside of Orléans, France.

 

“I was blown away by the dynamics, the enthusiasm, the know-how,” he said, highlighting also the “exceptional standards of quality” and the fact that between 90 to 95 percent of products are developed in-house.

Philips — the former global creative director for makeup at Chanel from 2008 to 2013 before taking a semisabbatical year — is by no means a stranger to Dior. He called himself a fan of Tyen, the brand’s former makeup color maestro, who remains within LVMH as artistic advisor.

“I love his work; when I was at the academy in the Eighties, Nineties, I quite often used his images for collages and things like that. It’s amazing how he made this image for Dior — not only as a makeup creator but also as a makeup artist and photographer,” said Philips, himself a self-taught makeup artist who graduated from Antwerp’s Académie des Beaux Arts. “He’s a real artist.

“I love, of course, also Serge Lutens,” he said, referring to the man who created color cosmetics for Dior in the Sixties. “So it’s a lot of pressure on my shoulders.”

Philips will be on hand, as well, for any products in development needing to be tweaked or last-minute creations, such as for the fashion shows.

He’s long been a fixture backstage at high-profile shows, such as Dries Van Noten and Fendi. Pat McGrath, who had historically spearheaded the makeup at Dior’s backstage, created her last looks for the house, at its the most recent women’s ready-to-wear collection presented in February.

“My first [Dior] show will be in May, the cruise collection,” said Philips. “It’s a nice way to start because it’s not as heavy as prêt-à-porter. It’s nice to slowly get [to know] the mechanism of a Dior backstage.”

He might broach the subject with Simons on Saturday.

Philips just saw a new foundation coming out in May with a “great texture,” so he will use it on models for the cruise show.

“For me, it’s also a discovery [stage] of amazing textures and new formulas,” he said.

Dior has a “backstage” line of makeup, which will be a priority for Philips, as well.

“I can adapt myself to the service of a house or a designer’s vision and play with that,” he said. “I respect the codes, vision and style…and can give it a twist — and that twist is my own style.”

It’s too early for Philips to discuss the nuts and bolts of his strategy for Dior, however. 

“I’m jumping on a train, which moves really smoothly and fast already,” he said.