Kylie Jenner is about to add a new line to her bulging résumé: Olivier Rousteing has asked the cosmetics entrepreneur to be the artistic director for makeup at his Balmain show during Paris Fashion Week.
To celebrate the event, Kylie Cosmetics and Balmain will launch a capsule collection for sale online on Sept. 27, the day of the show, available worldwide on Kylie Cosmetics’ web site. Jenner planned to attend a party at the Balmain store on Rue Saint-Honoré on Friday to toast the collaboration, which includes lip color, eye shadow, and accessories incorporating makeup that will be unveiled at the show, but on Wednesday announced she would no longer be coming due to an apparent sickness.
“We really wanted to launch this collection in a big way,” said Jenner, in an e-mail interview. “The inspiration really came from Look 26 [the pastel pink couture jumpsuit she wore to the 61st annual Grammy awards] and we went from there.”
The young mogul is expected in Paris today to prep for the Balmain show and attend model castings. “She’s incredibly hands-on. It’s quite incredible working with Kylie, because she has a very clear vision of what she wants and she’s very committed to the job,” Rousteing told WWD in an exclusive interview.
“She wanted to know when the first makeup artist will be arriving backstage, so she’s going to be there at 7:30 a.m. to be the first to work on all the models,” he continued. “There’s a definite look for the show, but within that, each girl will have different makeup depending on their skin tone and the clothes they’ll be wearing.”
“This is really the first time I’ve collaborated with a fashion house, and Olivier has created so many incredible looks,” Jenner said. “We worked together the entire process and were always video calling each other to discuss colors and swatches, as well as the packaging design. When Olivier was here in [Los Angeles] for the Creative Artist Emmys, we shot the campaign images.
“Olivier and I talked through which products we wanted to create, and we agreed that an eye shadow palette, a matte lip kit and a high gloss would really bring together the look we were aiming for,” Jenner said. “We worked together and selected the colors for all products and designed the packaging. We knew we wanted to launch it the same day we do the fashion show so the whole day is about the show and the collab.”
It promises to be a hectic week for Rousteing. The day after his show, he will be the guest of honor at the premiere of “Wonder Boy,” a documentary about his life.
The film mixes the personal and the professional, from growing up with his adoptive parents in Bordeaux, France, to his designer success story, including “some of the struggles encountered in getting to where I am, the work that has gone into it and the critiques,” he told WWD last year.
The Kylie Cosmetics collaboration is Balmain’s second venture into cosmetics, following its capsule collection of lipstick with L’Oréal Paris in 2017, as the luxury brand gears up to launch its own cosmetics line and revive its fragrance division with a fresh take on its historic scent Ivoire, Rousteing revealed.
“My obsession is to update it, because I love tradition and I have a lot of respect for the archives and the work of Mr. Balmain, so I really want to do something very specific with this fragrance. We’re working on it, but I can’t tell you when it’s coming out because it will take a long time,” he said.
Cosmetics is also a work-in-progress. “Launching Balmain cosmetics with Kylie allows us to gain a foothold in cosmetics in a totally unconventional way,” Rousteing explained. “Usually, people work with cosmetics giants, but we’re doing it on a more intimate scale, because it’s based on friendship.”
Intimate is a relative term in this case. Between them, Jenner and Rousteing have 152.4 million followers on Instagram — of which the beauty mogul, who just launched her Kylie Skin skin-care line at Ulta Beauty stores, accounts for 147 million.
Kylie Cosmetics has been a formidable force in the beauty industry since its launch in 2015. WWD Beauty Inc reported the brand had $360 million in sales in 2018, up 9 percent from the previous year. Jenner has also filed trademarks for hair-care products and a baby line, and is dabbling in fragrances, collaborating with sister Kim Kardashian for her KKW Fragrance brand on a trio of scents in lip-shaped bottles.
Rousteing’s relationship with the Kardashian-Jenner clan is well-documented: The family has been key to bolstering his #BalmainArmy on Instagram.
Kardashian and Kanye West featured in Balmain’s spring 2015 men’s wear campaign, while West’s “Wolves” video served as Balmain’s fall 2016 campaign film. Kendall and Kylie Jenner, meanwhile, appeared in the brand’s fall 2015 ads.
The designer has subsequently dressed Kylie Jenner for red-carpet events including the 2016 Met Gala and this year’s Grammys, where she wore the pastel pink look that became the starting point for their joint makeup collection.
“It happened in a totally spontaneous and natural way,” Rousteing said, adding the two shared ideas via WhatsApp and Skype.
“We started talking about what inspires us, and Kylie really loved my couture collection from January with these very soft, pastel colors that are very much in tune with her universe. We decided to blend our two worlds,” Rousteing said, noting that Jenner also wears his couture looks in the campaign for the cosmetics line.
The photo shoot in Los Angeles coincided with Rousteing’s 34th birthday, so Kris Jenner surprised him on set with a birthday cake. “It was so sweet,” he said. “And the funny thing was that Kylie was telling Kris not to post anything, because she was wearing the new makeup collection.”
Jenner said she’ll be wearing makeup from the collaboration for the show this week, and has been trying the products on friends. “We’re both wanting to make anyone who wears Olivier’s clothing, or my makeup, feel confident and beautiful. We both want people to look and feel like the best version of themselves and we work to provide looks that help bring that to life,” Jenner said.
Reflecting that Balmain couture looks have been worn by women ranging from Beyoncé to Jorja Smith and Juliette Binoche, the duo designed the makeup to be worn by women of different ages and skin tones. “That was very important to us,” said Rousteing.
The Model Behavior high gloss, which retails for $16, is described as a “cotton candy pink with multidimensional pearls,” while the $29 Paris Matte lip kit consists of a blush pink liquid lipstick and soft chocolate nude lip liner. The eye shadow palette, $42, has nine shades with names like Close the Show, Attitude and Top Model.
A matte lip kit and high-gloss bundle will be offered for $38, while the collection bundle will go for $75. The packaging features a Parisian graffiti print from the couture collection.
Rousteing said he tested the color swatches with Jenner at her office in Calabasas, Calif. “I drew inspiration from the makeup for the color palette of my clothes,” he said. “It’s her first foray into fashion with her cosmetics. Since they’re only sold in the U.S., I wanted to introduce them to Europe, in a way.”
On his mood board were images of Veruschka in pastel makeup, and vintage covers of Harper’s Bazaar and U.S. Vogue, which translated into the chunky Seventies-flavored accessories, including bracelets and belts that double as eye shadow compacts, and knuckle dusters that contain lip gloss.
Jenner brought more of a late-Nineties sensibility to the project. “She’s a girl who inspires an entire generation, who is brilliant at communicating, so what I was most excited about was understanding her world to better understand makeup,” said Rousteing.
“I might have had in mind these images of Veruschka and Harper’s Bazaar, but she’s all about L.A. and Millennial culture. So I learned a lot from her, because she’s a young woman, but she knows what she wants. I enjoyed listening,” he said. “I like makeup, but I need a woman by my side to break it down for me.”
Because of their busy schedules, it’s rare for the two to chill out together, and chances are camera crews will be following their every move in Paris this week. “Our life is about being followed,” Rousteing said with a shrug. “But the great thing about Kylie is that we also know how to switch off and hang out in private.”
The two share a love of music, with Jenner appearing in the campaign for Balmain’s 2017 collaboration with Beats by Dre. Rousteing claimed credit for being the first luxury designer to merge the worlds of hip-hop and fashion, and to share his life on social media.
That has made the brand accessible to a wide audience that is evidently raring to snap up a piece of Balmain at accessible prices, as evidenced by the success of its 2015 collaboration with Swedish high-street retailer H&M.
“I call Balmain the guilty pleasure, because it’s not a brand that follows trends. It creates its own codes, and for me, it’s important to remain true to yourself. Sometimes people like it, and sometimes they don’t, but I always say I’d rather be disliked for who I am than liked for who I’m not,” he concluded.
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