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Shu Uemura Taps New York’s Kye for Makeup Line

The designer taps into Korean pop culture for her clothes – and the new cosmetics range.

PARIS – Kathleen Kye, who is to show her fall collection on a New York runway today, will soon launch a collaboration with Shu Uemura, WWD has learned.

The Japanese beauty brand selected the fashion designer for its spring “artist” collection, attracted by her Kye brand’s high-end streetwear sensibility that is fueled by Korean pop culture.

The 24-stockkeeping-unit-spanning cleansing oils, eye liner, hair-care products and cushion blush come decorated with Kye’s intricate and quirky illustrations, most of them linked to Korea’s lifestyle and its burgeoning fashion, beauty and music scenes.

Consider a digital clock showing 5:10 a.m., when workaholic Koreans can catch the first train of the day; headphones for listing to K-pop music; a gummy tiger, representing Korea’s national animal, or a paper coffee cup, a nod to Seoul’s reputation for having the highest number of coffee cups per capita.

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The kooky drawings, like doodles in a teenager’s diary, also include eyelash curlers, false eyelashes, and a compact.

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“It’s a dream for any fashion designer to have a cosmetics line,” said Kye, whose graphics are a key feature on her clothes for women and men. “And there’s a lot of beauty trends coming out of Korea.”

The 28-year-old mentioned thick eyebrows and vibrant lip colors among them.

The Kye for Shu Uemura collection, which includes vibrant colors such as hibiscus, after Korea’s national flower, is to arrive on counters in May in 18 countries. These include China, Korea, Taiwan and a wide swath of Southeast Asia, in addition to Australia, Canada, the U.K., Ireland, France and Belgium. In the U.S., products are to be sold via e-commerce only.

Kakuyasu Uchiide, international artistic director at Shu Uemura, lauded Kye for “igniting both Korean culture and the street fashion boom.”

Born in America and raised in Seoul, Kye holds a master’s degree in fashion from Central Saint Martins in London and launched her brand in 2011. In 2014, she was shortlisted for the first LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers.

Founded in 1983 and controlled by L’Oréal since 2003, Shu Uemura is said to do about 80 percent of its business in Asia.

The L’Oréal-owned beauty brand recently collaborated with Paris-based Maison Kitsuné and has also done tie-ups with Karl Lagerfeld in recent years.