If there's any luxury house with the savoir-faire and storytelling ability to create icons that will stand the test of time, it’s Hermès. Take the Kelly bag, which was named after Grace Kelly when the silver-screen siren used it to conceal her baby bump in 1956. Or the iconic Birkin that earned its moniker after Jean-Louis Dumas, then the Artistic Director, had a chance meeting with style icon Jane Birkin on an aeroplane in 1984 and created a bag to fulfil her needs.
This alchemy of expertise, craftsmanship, heritage, and the enviable gift of knowing what women want comes together serendipitously as the maison – led by Hermès Artistic Director Pierre-Alex Dumas – makes an exciting entrance into the new métier of beauty.
Rouge Hermès is a covetable 24-hue lipstick collection – with 10 matte and 14 satin finishes, complemented by
a Lip Care Balm, a Poppy Lip Shine, a Universal Lip Pencil, a hand-lacquered wooden Lip Brush, a moon- shaped mirror, and Madame calfskin lipstick cases.
Pierre Hardy, Creative Director of Hermès jewellery and Hermès shoes, designed collectable casings that are brushed, polished and lacquered in black, white or permabrass metal, with magnetic lids that close with a satisfying click; Bali Barret, Artistic Director of the Women’s Universe and Creative Director of Women’s Silk, consulted on colour; in-house nose Christine Nagel, Director of Hermès Olfactory Creation, scented the range with notes of sandalwood, arnica and angelica; and Jérôme Touron, Creative Director of Hermès Beauty, was tasked with bringing it all to life.
Giving Grazia an insight into this process, Jérôme explains, “Hermès is a house of multiple métiers, approaches and sensibilities, that together shape our singularity. We work as a creative team, as an artistic collective, formed of several personalities. It’s a multi- hand creation, a collaborative process: fluid, organic, continuous, like a conversation, between Bali Barret, Pierre Hardy and I. In make-up, the object, the texture, the colour and the gesture have to work together. Therefore, Bali, Pierre and I work all together constantly. I am the ‘eye’ – my role is to shape the vision of this new territory and to create the colours, textures and gestures of make-up, reflecting the spirit of Hermès Beauty as defined by Pierre-Alexis Dumas.”
After Christine Nagel reinvigorated the energy of the house with the launches of Twilly d’Hermès in 2017, followed by Twilly d’Hermès Eau Poivrée in 2019, adding beauty as the maison’s sixteenth métier keeps this momentum. “In a way, beauty has always been there,” Jérôme points out.
“Beauty can be found in all Hermès’ métiers, from bags and luggage, to silk, ready-to-wear, shoes, jewellery, watches and many others. So to me, make-up is a natural continuation, a new expression of Hermès’ idea of beauty. Like perfume, it adds a final touch. It’s part of the same idea of art de vivre. But we also wanted to bring something new to beauty, something that would reflect Hermès’ singularity, as well as the singularity of each woman and each personality. Therefore, it took us time. As with all Hermès projects, we took the time to do it right, to do it as we dreamed of.”
Inspiration for the colours came from the archives in Lyon. “I went there as soon as I joined the house,” he recalls. “It was a perfect introduction to the philosophy of colour at Hermès. Hermès, it’s freedom in a frame. It’s like a carré [square]; there is a profusion, an infinity of possibilities, and at the same time, a frame, that is clear and precise. Make-up works exactly the same way; there is an infinity of options in terms of colours, textures and types of application and at the same time it has to meet a certain function. Our archives in Lyon – with more than 75,000 colour references just for silk – were an extraordinary source of inspiration for the lipstick shades. That was pure freedom. And at the same time, the idea was to choose from these endless possibilities to create a perfectly edited range of 24 emblematic shades.”
In addition to the 24-strong core collection, Jérôme’s vintage book The Principles of Harmony and Contrast of Colours and Their Applications to the Arts, written by Michel-Eugène Chevreul in 1855, influenced the three tantalisingly collectible limited editions that will be released each season.
Each delicious shade is coupled with an equally evocative name that truly conjures the spirit of adventure and the dose of escape the world needs right now. Jérôme confirms, “Some of the names correspond exactly to the source of inspiration for the colour: Rouge Casaque, Rouge Hermès, Orange Boîte,” he explains.
“Others describe more precisely the undertone, almost like in a colour recipe: Rouge Bleu [red with a hint of blue], Rouge Orange [red with a hint of orange], Rose Zinzolin [pink with a hint of violet, which draws its purplish colour from the sesame seed]. Others – for instance Beige Kalahari, Rose Mexique and Rose Indien – refer to travel, escape and cultures around the world, since to me, make-up creation is like exploration, a multicoloured journey across the world.”
A word about sustainability – these lipsticks are refillable, since the mechanism that holds the lipstick in its casing is interchangeable. “The materials chosen for the Hermès Beauty objects ensure their sustainability too. These objects are made to last, favouring noble materials such as metal, with the use of plastic limited to essential elements. I believe quality is Hermès’ core value, and sustainability is more than ever a key quality factor. But this ‘ethics of aesthetics’ has always been at the heart of Hermès,” he notes.
All things considered, it looks as if Hermès has another cult hit on its hands. And Rouge Hermès is just the beginning of the beauty adventure that’s also promised us skincare. Did Jérôme predict this overnight sensation? “It’s difficult for me to answer, because today all these lipsticks live their own lives,” he concedes.
However, like Jane Birkin, whose iconic bag was created to her requirements, Jérôme wants us to feel our skintones, lifestyles, moods and whims have been catered to. “When wearing Rouge Hermès, I want a woman to feel beautiful and comfortable at the same time. I want her to feel a connection, a correspondence between the way she feels inside and the way she looks outside. With this colour, I want her to genuinely feel not transformed, not for someone else, but for herself.”
Photos: Courtesy of Hermès