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Golden Child

Meet Chanel's new baby: its fall 2008 color collection, the first under Chanel's new creative director of makeup, Peter Philips.

Meet Chanel’s new baby: its fall 2008 color collection, the first under Chanel’s new creative director of makeup, Peter Philips. It will be out in July — followed by Philips’ holiday collection, slated for October, which will continue the gold rush.

Chanel is betting on striking gold with its fall 2008 color cosmetics collection, the first created by Peter Philips, the house’s new creative director of makeup.

Philips, who replaced Dominique Moncourtois and Heidi Morawetz in January, is using gold as a major theme for his first collection. “This line is my first little step into Chanel,” said Philips, who spent a year and a half working closely with Moncourtois and Morawetz to ensure a smooth transition. “It sounds very cliché, but it was the apartment on the Rue Cambon where Coco worked and lived that really inspired this first collection. The apartment is so cozy, with lots of warm brown, bronzes and golds; an elegant gold-framed mirror, and a rough crystal chandelier. They all ended up in this collection in some way — whether it is a reflective surface, or a color.”

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The collection, due on counter in July, includes Gold Fiction, a softly shimmering nail polish, $30; Facettes D’Or, a finely milled gold loose powder that reads on the skin as a subtle glow, $56; Gold Light Glossimer lip gloss, $26; Rouge Hydrabase lipstick shades in copper, plum and coral, each $27, and a quad eye shadow palette with gold, coffee, ivory and dark green eye colors, $56.

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Chanel marketers are hyping the gold nail polish as the next Vamp or Black Satin — but Philips, for one, is philosophical. “I don’t like to dictate looks,” he said. “When Dominique and Heidi wanted to do black, they did black. When they wanted to do blue, they did blue. I wanted to do gold. Sometimes you can come up with something insane and over-the-top, but it has to attract women, as well. If you proposed black nail polish to a marketing-driven company, they wouldn’t have done it. But they follow the trends, not start them.”

Philips, a longtime editorial makeup artist, got into the field “spontaneously.”

“I was a very slow student and I liked drawing things,” said Philips with a laugh. “I was a graphic designer before the computer age for advertising. I then went to the Antwerp Fashion Academy [he graduated in 1993] and learned that I wasn’t going to be an amazing designer.”

It did lead him to his present field, however. “During my schooling, there was always a bus that went from Antwerp to Paris to help the Belgian designers during Paris Fashion Week,” said Philips. “I saw the makeup artists backstage, and thought, ‘Bloody hell, that looks like fun.’ So I jumped into makeup. My good fortune was that I knew photographers and stylists. After two to three years, I ended up working with all of these [Belgian] designers who were doing their first shows, such as Olivier Theyskens. They got attention, I got attention — it grew very organically.”

He will continue to juggle his duties at Chanel with editorial shoots. “Karl [Lagerfeld] is a photographer in addition to being a designer, and both inspire him,” said Philips. “That’s what editorials do for me. If I would be full-time in an office trying to come up with makeup, I would be tapped out in a year and a half.”

“Peter’s exceptional creativity and imagination have won him global recognition amongst fashion icons and acclaimed photographers alike,” said Maureen Chiquet, global chief executive officer of Chanel. “His modern approach, style and vision are essential to capturing the essence of Chanel.”

Christine Dagousset, executive vice president of Fragrance and Beauté for Chanel, expects that outside work to “continually inspire Peter, which will in the end benefit Chanel. We are less concerned about market research and more concerned with giving our creators the freedom to come up with things that speak to them.”

That said, Dagousset believes that Gold Fiction will follow in the footsteps of Vamp, Black Satin and other best-selling Chanel nail polishes. “I think it will be huge,” said Dagousset. “It’s a soft honey gold, not a sparkling bright gold. It’s very wearable and very modern.” Another gold-hued nail shade expected to do well is Kaléidoscope, a shiny green gold, she said.

As well, Chanel will reprise — and amplify — gold in its holiday color collection, due out in October, with Poudre Precieuse Or, a gold highlighting powder that will retail for $75; Gold Shine, a gold Glossimer lip shade, $26; Noir Scintillant, a black eyeliner with gold sparkle, $28, and Haute Chocolate, a gold brown nail shade, $20.

“Our nail polish is very fashion-forward and an easy way for the customer to get a piece of Chanel,” said Dagousset. “We tend to do the very best with very dark shades such as Vamp and Black Satin, and very light shades.”

Dagousset said that Chanel has more than a 50 percent share of the department store nail color business. According to The NPD Group, annual 2007 prestige nail sales in U.S. department stores were $12 million.

While Chanel’s nail polishes generally retail in the $20 range, Gold Fiction will retail for $30. “We’ve used high-end pigments to get the color and finish just right, and the outer bottle is also done in an [opaque] gold case,” said Dagousset, adding that she doesn’t expect price resistance.

Gold Fiction, like the rest of the first color collection, is planned as a limited edition, as were Vamp and Black Satin in past days. However, if Gold Fiction proves to be a sales winner, Chanel will consider permanently adding it to the line, said Dagousset.

The counter visual, shot by Dominique Isserman, features Natalia Vodianova. It may be used as a print ad at a later date, said Dagousset.

While executives refused to discuss sales projections, industry sources estimated that Chanel’s fall color collection could do upward of $10 million at retail in the U.S.