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Hedi Slimane’s Minimally Male Skin Care

Leave it to Hedi Slimane to devise a rigorously modern yet luxurious approach to skin care.

PARIS — Leave it to Hedi Slimane to devise a rigorously modern yet luxurious approach to skin care.

Slimane’s Dermo System, the first men’s beauty range in Christian Dior’s 59-year history, is the equivalent of his precision tailoring for Dior Homme captured in square-ish pots of smoky, light gray glass.

Not that Slimane took a fashion approach. Instead, the emphasis is on technical characteristics and active ingredients rather than superfluous details like added scent. “It’s a very targeted line,” Slimane told WWD. “It’s very rational and systematic in the sense that it’s a few targeted products that will complement each other.”

The Dermo System will be unveiled in Paris on July 5 — the day after Slimane’s spring Dior Homme fashion show — and arrive in about 2,000 doors in France in early October. An international rollout is slated to follow in the second half of 2007.

Slimane and Dior declined all comment on figures, but sources estimated the range could generate retail sales of $10 million in the first year. The system consists of four products: a hydrating toner, serum, moisturizer and an eye cream dispensed directly on the skin via an applicator resembling a click pen.

Slimane characterized the Dior products as a “breakthrough” because they are targeted at younger men, who have fewer hang-ups about using skin care, and because of the products’ premium positioning. Retail prices are 40 euros, or $51, for 1.8 ml. of eye serum, 48 euros, or $62, for 100 ml. of hydrating toner or 50 ml. of moisturizer, and 75 euros, or $96, for 50 ml. serum.

Slimane said women might also be drawn to the fragrance-free, lightweight features of Dermo System, as they are to his Dior Homme clothing, some of which comes in smaller sizes for female devotees.

The packaging is meant to appeal to a design-sensitive crowd, reflecting Slimane’s exacting sense of proportion. The dimensions of each pump-style bottle are carefully calculated for a balance between height and circumference. Linear ridges or pleats, a signature feature of Dior Homme leather goods, are echoed on the containers.

Slimane confessed he has not been a big user of skin care, partly because he couldn’t find products to his liking, deeming many overly scented, heavy or fussy. “I’ve always liked matte skin,” he said. “The idea was to work on textures and to be as light as possible.”

This story first appeared in the June 2, 2006 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

He also sought products that applied easily, absorbed quickly and would leave no shine, “which is very difficult to do,” Slimane noted. The Dermo System took three years to develop and is patented, he added. While the products contain anti-aging ingredients and can be used by all ages and skin types, Slimane’s main outreach is to young men interested in preserving the health and vitality of their skin.

The complete Dermo System regimen begins with a hydrating toner (which doubles as an aftershave), followed by an application of the serum — which Slimane called the “key product” — and then the moisturizer and eye cream. But men on a budget, or in a hurry, can use any product alone. Slimane said ancillary products would be added, “little by little.”

A 20-year-old American model named Ambrose will be the face of Dermo System in black-and-white ads photographed by Slimane himself. Since arriving at Dior six years ago, the designer has tweaked the brand’s existing men’s fragrances and concocted a trio of exclusive colognes with limited distribution, as well as Dior Homme, a new men’s scent that is already a hit. Slimane, who is in negotiations to renew his employment contract at Dior, declined to say what his next beauty project might be.