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Influence Peddler: Violette Heads to Estée Lauder

The French makeup artist will be involved in product development, education and digital content creation.

Violette has a new home — at Estée Lauder.

The Paris-based makeup artist is the brand’s new global beauty director and spokesperson, following Tom Pecheux, who held this post from 2009 to 2014.

While Violette will be working with Lauder in a number of ways — and very closely with global creative director Matthew Parr — she has three key responsibilities, Stephane de la Faverie, global brand president of Estée Lauder, told WWD Monday. She will be heavily involved in product development and education and training on a global scale, but it’s Violette’s role in the creation of digital content that brings entirely new meaning to this position.

De la Faverie declined to give specifics on the length of Violette’s contract with the brand but said it’s “long term.”

“Our goal is to ignite a dynamic new beauty conversation. Violette’s woman-to-woman voice is critical to our strong focus on social media, and we plan to amplify her voice across her social platforms and ours to connect with women around the world,” de la Faverie said, adding that how-to videos will play a large part in the makeup artist’s digital content.

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It’s only the second time The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.’s flagship brand has worked with a makeup artist in this capacity, but similar to its collaboration with Victoria Beckham, tapping Violette is part of a strategy to attract a younger customer. And one who is active on social media.

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Violette has nearly 88,000 followers on Instagram, where she goes by @violette_fr, and 87,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel, which she was urged to start last fall by her Instagram followers who wanted more in-depth makeup tutorials.

In addition to the online piece, de la Faverie said Violette will travel the world with the brand, participate in a weeklong global makeup artist training conference in September and help pick product, textures and shades for the upcoming fall season.

On the day before the partnership kicked off, Violette talked to WWD about her dislike of trends, “honest” makeup and her first gig in the U.S.

WWD: How has social media affected your career?
Violette: For me, personally, it was when I launched my YouTube channel. I had many requests on Instagram, so social media really invited me to do it. It’s been an incredible revelation because I was like, “Wait a minute, I’ve been doing this job for 13 years and caring about what I want to express and do — and I didn’t have any interaction with women. Suddenly I have all these women reaching out to women.…My job can actually help them. I’m not saving lives, but in their day-to-day life it helps. My way of working completely changed…I don’t have millions of followers but my fans are very active; if I don’t post for a long time they ask me what’s happening.

I had a shoot with a magazine and they called in March and wanted to talk about trends for this year. I said “Can we not talk about trends and do a story for women? I have been getting all these requests and I know what they want.” [That way] they could buy the magazine and do the looks…then I do videos online of how to create these looks.

WWD: If you could use just three products on someone, what would they be?
Violette: Concealer, lipstick and mascara. Those are three products I can do anything with.

WWD: What products are you using right now — on yourself?
Violette: It changes everyday, but I’m going to have my obsession for the month. [Right now] I’m using this metallic blue eye pencil…as a smokey eye or I do it as an eyeliner. It catches the light. It’s much more happy than a black eyeliner.

WWD: What is your favorite makeup trend right now?
Violette: I’m not a fan of trends. I’ve made moodboards that are based on how I feel, what inspires me or what fabrics I see on a fashion piece or flowers. Whatever you’re wearing should be based on how you feel. It’s very personal. That’s my philosophy.

WWD: Describe your aesthetic when applying someone’s makeup.
Violette: The key for me is even if I’m being bold on a woman, she’s not a blank canvas; she’s a muse to me. She will never disappear behind it [makeup]. She has to be celebrated, that’s very, very important. I’m never going to contour and put on tons of foundation that she doesn’t need. [I ask] “What do you really need on your skin” and try to have it be as “honest” as possible. I don’t want to change her features. Celebrate is a key word; I always want to celebrate how they look. I’m going to play with any features she has that are interesting and push this. Skin is a main trick. If you know what’s behind the curtain of a magician then the magic is gone. I don’t want to do anything on the skin that makes it obvious you’re wearing foundation.

WWD: What is the most requested tip from your followers?
Violette: The number one is skin, especially because I don’t wear foundation often. In my videos you can really see my real skin and people ask me what I do to keep my skin healthy so I don’t need foundation as much. Then [I get], “We love your philosophy but what happens when people need to wear foundation?” Then I’m explaining and showing how to achieve this very honest skin, but still hide whatever is bothering you. That’s the major thing. They love to see two things. One is how I use glitter because I use glitter in a very special way — not in a carnival or costume way.…You can wear it during the day. [And the other is] any kind of more bold look, like how to wear a strong color on the eye but still look fresh and wearable.

WWD: What is a makeup trend you’re sick of?
Violette: I’m not a buddha, but I think everybody should do whatever they want. I don’t have any hate, but the one thing that I don’t relate to is contouring, for sure. For me it goes against my philosophy of being who you are.

WWD: What kind of Instagram posts get the most engagement?
Violette: The pictures I take myself with my iPhone on set. It’s actually funny because right now I have to make sure that when I’m on set that I’m taking pics with my phone. It’s very honest and very real so people feel like they can connect more…also selfies; they are my biggest hit. [I get ] like five times more [likes].

WWD: What was your first gig as a makeup artist?
Violette: I did this editorial for Teen Vogue [with photographer Ben Hassett]…I was unknown in the U.S.; I was a baby. [They said] “Do whatever you want.” They gave control to the makeup artist. When they offered me this I wanted to do really tight closeup for lips and eyes and do strong creative looks. For them it was the first time they were trying this, and for me it was my first job in the U.S. When it came out the response was so incredible that I started … [doing] beauty stories for all the American magazines.

WWD: If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
Violette: I’d be an interior designer and a furniture designer…[but] I’m doing this actually. I’d create wallpaper and stuff like that.

WWD: Who are your favorite people to follow on social media?
Violette: @watts.on, @violetgrey, @lilibarberycoulon, @freeandnative and @sophia_roe.