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PARIS — Aaron de Mey, Lancôme’s new makeup maestro, has a clear vision of the brand’s woman.
“I’m basing her on the French irreverent woman,” he said. “She’s the kind of woman that can wear a Prada dress with flip-flops or Christian Louboutin shoes with a T-shirt. It’s that very spontaneous, free-spirited, audacious kind of woman. And she’s French — because Lancôme is French.”
Heroines embodying a certain je ne sais quoi include Brigitte Bardot, Madame Curie and Simone de Beauvoir, according to de Mey.
“I’m inspired by so many different women,” he added. “That’s what I love about Lancôme; it’s about the spirit of women.”
De Mey explained he is also drawn to the L’Oréal-owned brand’s strong heritage and its research and development muscle.
“I am attracted to the very old and the new,” said de Mey. “I love opposites, extremes.”
Indeed, his first project for Lancôme is a pairing of extremes. A limited edition red lipstick and a limited edition black lip gloss will hit counters in the second half of this year. (And the first Lancôme color cosmetics collection under de Mey’s tutelage will be launched in spring 2009.)
The idea for the black gloss harks back to the sand on Piha Beach in his native New Zealand.
“I always remember as a kid it being very mystical and sparkly and black,” said de Mey. “And then also, I really loved Marlene Dietrich for the fact that she would use [on her eyelids] the carbon from a burnt cork and mix it with Vaseline.”
That compounded with the idea of a free punk spirit helped de Mey concoct the gloss, he said. De Mey wanted it to be a multiuse product that can be applied to various parts of the face.
“It’s a new way of wearing black,” he explained. “It’s sexier, more mysterious and gentle at the same time. It’s not hard.”
For the limited edition lipstick, de Mey was inspired by a pair of red Louboutin shoes.
“I loved the Louboutin red because it’s the perfect balance between a blue-red and an orange-red,” said de Mey. “Red and black have always been my favorite colors, and I think they’re a very good starting point because they’re very direct and they represent so many different things.”
The artistic director has a treasure trove of ideas. These come in the form of Polaroid snaps, various clippings and notes, plus other tidbits, which he sticks on to walls and then moves into scrapbooks that he has hoarded for years.
“It really helps for me to communicate with the scientists and laboratories and just to keep inspiration flowing,” he said. “I keep everything. I know that if I don’t use it today, in five years’ time I might.”