PARIS — Karl Lagerfeld’s latest surprising collaboration comes after more than 20 years of using the products in question — and not for their intended purpose.

This story first appeared in the June 8, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Having employed Shu Uemura makeup to hand-color his illustrations — spanning fashion sketches, portraits and political cartoons — the Paris-based designer will create a special holiday collection for the Japanese beauty firm.

To be labeled Karl Lagerfeld for Shu Uemura, it is slated for international distribution starting in November.

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Pier Paolo Righi, president of Karl Lagerfeld, said the 17 stockkeeping units will ship to more than 400 Shu Uemura doors.

Lagerfeld is in charge of the color selection and the packaging — and he has already photographed the accompanying campaign.

The project is to be unveiled to the trade in September, Righi said, hinting the products would reflect the designer’s “iconic, ironic style.”

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He noted the tie-up is meant to last for one season.

The multitasking designer said he uses Shu Uemura for illustrations for one simple reason: “Because other manufacturers do not offer such beautiful colors.”

Lagerfeld’s inimitable illustrations frequently appear on Chanel invitations and press kits — and are sought after by numerous magazine and book publishers.

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 line’s namesake, a Tokyo-born Hollywood makeup artist, began mixing and selling his signature Cleansing Oil in 1960; it continues to be one of the brand’s best-selling sku’s in Asia. Uemura died in Tokyo on Dec. 29, 2007, at the age of 79.