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EXCLUSIVE: Mert and Marcus, Lancôme Team on Makeup Capsule

The limited-edition After Dark collection will be sold in Europe starting in February.

PARIS – Fashion photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott have stepped out from behind the camera to partner with Lancôme on a capsule makeup collection.

It is the first beauty collaboration for the duo, known professionally as Mert and Marcus, who opted to conceive a color-cosmetics range for nighttime.

The limited-edition line is due out in Europe starting in February and the U.S. in March.

Beauty and cosmetics have been very much a part of their work. “From the beginning of our career until now, we were always involved in building our characters — sometimes through fashion, sometimes through hair and makeup — so we have always been interested in the cosmetic side of fashion photography,” said Alas.

The photographer called the beauty collaboration “a very interesting process,” and explained that he and Piggott have a certain way of preparing models for their pictures, doing makeup, retouching images and printing photos.

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“We wanted to combine all these details. We have tricks for how we work with our women’s lips or eyes, or how we can make their cheeks a little longer,” he said. “We were interested in taking these photographic techniques and our expertise in beauty into the cosmetics world and developing products out of them.”

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The duo wanted to respect the DNA of Lancôme, whose women Alas described as “sophisticated, elegant, contemporary, Parisian, women of lifestyle and of the day mostly.”

“For the past 25 years, as image-makers we have worked to break rules, push boundaries and stretch the limits of our acceptance within fashion photography,” Alas continued. “Our photography has always tended to be a little on the dark side. I needed more questions, substance and depth. It was important that this rebellion was reflected in our makeup collaboration. We wanted to create a woman for Lancôme who is more nocturnal, to add a dark side to this iconic brand that all women love. After Dark came from there, because we wanted this character to be more of a night cat and slightly more dangerous.

“In this collection, we didn’t want to create soft pastels, skin colors and subtlety that already existed,” said Alas. “We wanted to bring saturation; absurdity; a little more surrealism; bold, bigger lips, and eyes bluer than blue,” continued Alas.

Taking Lancôme “to a more rebellious zone” included burning the brand’s iconic rose logo for the packaging imagery.

“The packaging was again inspired by our mannerism towards fashion, and so it was slightly darker and glamorous,” said Alas. “It was an object of desire, and there was also a strong photography element to it.”

Alas and Piggott worked on all elements of the color-cosmetics project with Lancôme.

“The textures was one of the most interesting parts of the process,” said Alas. “Lancôme opened up their labs to us, and we have tested literally hundreds of products. So we would choose the blue and then discuss the texture, what size the pearl particle should be, the size of the glitter particles, whether we could add multicolor glitter to the blue, what it would look like with a green or purple. All this process was the craziest part of the collaboration, but it was actually also the most pleasing and exciting part.”

Françoise Lehmann, Lancôme brand president, described Alas and Piggott in a statement as “not only brilliant artists and renowned photographers, but they are also incredible beauty experts.”

The capsule line will include makeup kits — Lancôme’s first for highly dramatic looks — including one for eyes, the Eyes Cold as Ice Kit, and another for lips, the Flaming Lips Lip Kit.

From the Lancôme x Mert & Marcus After Dark collection.
From the Lancôme x Mert & Marcus After Dark collection. Courtesy Photo/Jerome NGUY

There are also liquid eye shadows in four matte-to-glitter shades; an eye-shadow palette in 10 hues; the Teint Idole Ultra Duo Stick, a highlighter-and-blur combination, in two shades, and L’Absolu Rouge lipstick in matte to sheer finishes.

From the Lancôme x Mert & Marcus After Dark collection.
From the Lancôme x Mert & Marcus After Dark collection. Courtesy Photo / Jerome NGUY

Lancôme annually partners with creators on a color-cosmetics tie-in. In the past few years, it developed a makeup capsule with Chiara Ferragni, Proenza Schouler and Olympia Le-Tan.