Tom Pecheux has been named creative makeup director for the Estée Lauder brand in a move signalling an intention to give the brand’s color cosmetics category a catwalk edge.

This story first appeared in the November 6, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

According to Jane Hertzmark Hudis, who took over as global brand president of the Estée Lauder brand in July, the move — unusual in that it gives an outsider substantial access to the company’s flagship brand — is part of her aim to “make Estée Lauder a style leader in the global world of beauty.”

It’s not the first time Lauder has tapped a high-profile makeup artist — the late Paul Starr had been named director of the company’s national makeup artist team in 2003 — but it is expected Pecheux will have the ability to significantly affect the line in ways Starr didn’t. According to Hudis, Pecheux will collaborate on products, travel around the world representing the brand as a spokesman and “being a visionary in application and style,” said Hudis.

“The Estée Lauder brand has built its reputation over the last two decades as a skin care authority, with standout success,” said Hudis. “However, we know that many new users enter any brand through makeup. It’s time for us to redefine what our makeup means, and we selected Tom as a partner because he is a world-renowned makeup artist who has his finger on the pulse of fashion. His sensibilities will help us to modernize our color point of view, and will help us to reach out to a broad new base of consumers.”

Pecheux’s influence will first be seen on a high-impact color collection and an advertising campaign with Lauder model Hilary Rhoda in spring, although the bulk of his contributions will begin with the fall 2010 collection, said Hudis.

Pecheux has also served in similar roles for Shiseido and L’Oréal’s Gemey.

Pecheux — who began his cosmetics career as an assistant to famed makeup artist Linda Cantello more than 30 years ago — has worked with a long lineup of well-known photographers, including Mario Testino, Patrick Demarchelier, Craig McDean and Peter Lindbergh, and has also worked extensively on runway shows both in the U.S. and Europe, including the shows of Ralph Lauren, Derek Lam, Givenchy, Balmain, Yves Saint Laurent and Jean Paul Gaultier. Pecheux also frequently works with a number of magazines, including Vogue (Italy, Paris and U.S. editions), Vanity Fair and V magazine, and has worked on major ad campaigns for Michael Kors, Burberry, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Givenchy, Balmain and Yves Saint Laurent, among others.

“I think the brand has an amazing story,” said Pecheux. “I love women with power and character, and I think Madame Lauder had a lot of both. She created an incredible business that is still a market leader today.”

Pecheux said he hopes to “bring a strong fashion edge to the brand. Makeup is such a fashion accessory — I’d like to highlight that part of the brand, and also bring a playful touch to the franchise.”

And the mixing has Pecheux excited: before entering the makeup world, he was a pastry chef. “I’m playing with all sorts of textures and finishes and colors. I want to cook a new meal for Estée Lauder.”

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