Lip service: Hermès Beauté’s first release is Rouge Hermès, a line of 24 lipsticks, the three most emblematic colors of which are Rouge Casaque matte
Martin Bruno
Now you can wear Hermès on your lips
CULTURE VULTURE - Therese Jamora-Garceau (The Philippine Star) - February 23, 2020 - 12:00am

PARIS, FRANCE — Hermès, the high-fashion French brand known for its iconic bags and scarves, has ventured into beauty with Hermès Beauté. The new division’s Feb. 5 launch was on everyone’s lips — literally — with Rouge Hermès, a range of 24 lipsticks based on the house’s iconic oranges and reds that are the ideal gateway products into the brand’s aspirational luxury lifestyle.

“We felt that it was time for us to express our vision of femininity at Hermes through this ultimate gesture of beauty,” said Pierre-Alexis Dumas, artistic director of Hermès. “It’s based on expressing your natural beauty and really being yourself.”

Rouge Hermès is the first chapter in a series of Hermès Beauté releases planned every six months. This slow burn is very Hermès — a testament to how the maison does things exactingly, poetically, with utmost attention paid to perfecting every single product detail. After all, Hermès began almost 200 years ago. What’s another year or two to launch the entire beauty collection?

“We are trying to do it humbly and cautiously,” says Hermès CEO Axel Dumas, “because it’s a big market that’s already full of strong players, and therefore we have to find our place in it.”

According to Hermès’ general manager in the Philippines Mario Katigbak, Hermès Beauté will have its grand launch at Rustan’s Makati on March 4, and in the last quarter of this year the company will release a range of blushes, followed by nail colors next year, then skincare, thus completing the trinity essential to every successful global beauty brand: fragrance, makeup, and skincare. (Hermès’ fragrance division, with its bestselling Terre d’Hermes and Twilly d’Hermes, made up five percent of the company’s overall sales in 2018, or 315 million euros.)

Rouge Hermès’ launch was done in Hermès’ inimitable style, at a venue kept secret till the last minute in the Trocadero area of Paris, with a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower. A private residence was done up to house 12 rooms where media and influencers from all over the world could experience the lipsticks firsthand.

The line consists of 14 satin and 10 matte lipsticks, along with a clear lip balm and Poppy Lip Shine, a gloss that can top any of the lipsticks to give it shimmer and moisture. Hermes’ creative director for jewelry and shoes Pierre Hardy designed the sleek lipstick tubes, housing the permanent collection in white, black and brushed gold cylinders, while bullets with colorful, duo-toned bases contain seasonal, limited-edition colors that will be released twice a year.

It’s worth noting that the lipsticks are packaged in recycled paper and reusable tubes: you can buy refills at almost 40 percent off the retail price.

“It took three years to make the object look precious and sophisticated so it will last,” Hardy said. On top of the tube is the Hermes logo in gold — the historic “H” monogram of the house — placed in a tactile downward curve that comfortably fits your thumb. “With this curve like a print of the finger, we’re bringing some sensuality also in the global design,” Hardy said.

Hermès’ treasure trove of 75,000 silk and leather swatches inspired the 24 shades of lipstick, according to Bali Barret, artistic director of Hermès’ women’s and silk universe. “We started by diving into color and starting to appreciate which ones would be nice on the lips,” she said. “This was a long, long process, because Hermès is about choosing precisely what will reveal the beauty of a woman.”

The three most emblematic colors in the line are Orange Boite, the exact shade of the Hermès box; Rouge Casaque, a vibrant, soft red; and Rouge H, a deep crimson modeled after Hermes leathers.

“For the mattes the idea was really to get inspired by the doblis leather — this super-soft, velvety, almost powdery finish,” said Jerome Touron, Hermès Beauté creative director. “And then for the satin finish, we have another inspiration, which is the box leather, with its smooth, luminous and shiny finish.”

Even the subtle fragrance of the lipstick was specially developed, by Hermès’ in-house perfumer Christine Nagel: “I went with a lot of active ingredients — I worked with sandalwood and arnica — because for me the signature of the house is also the odor.”

Consequently, Rouge Hermes is not just a lipstick: it’s a status symbol, and an accessory. And this accessory is accompanied by its own accessories: a lip brush, a calfskin lipstick case, and a Moon mirror with a leather strap that can even be worn as a necklace.

And so, Hermes beauty begins

Pierre-Alexis Dumas says that beauty at Hermes truly started 183 years ago in 1837, when his great-great-great grandfather, Thierry Hermes, opened his workshop in Paris. “He dedicated all his life to beauty,” Dumas said.

Thierry, who made harnesses for horses that drew carriages, became famous for the delicacy and strength of his creations. Not only did they allow more freedom of movement, they were also so discreet they didn’t hide the horse’s natural beauty.

“And that really is the origin of the success of Hermes,” notes Dumas. “And what is incredible about this house is that, 180 years later, when we look at that, we think, ‘Bingo!’ This is really the essence of beauty.”

Thierry’s grandson Emile Hermes was the visionary who expanded his legacy by diversifying the house to include fashion, accessories, and their now-legendary handbags.

“He’s the one who brought back the zipper from the US, where he went during World War I, and he had the idea to apply it to handbags,” Dumas said.

With his wife and four daughters, Emile was surrounded by women and addressed their concerns as his first clients. “He wanted to make objects that would help them be themselves,” Dumas explained. “The 1920s is a very important period for us: for the first time Hermes designed clothes for ladies so that they could practice all sports, drive a car, pilot an airplane. It was the idea of a woman, free, who makes her own choices, who leads her life. It’s a great inspiration for us, and it continues.”


* * *

Rouge Hermes will be launched on March 4, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Rustan’s Makati.

Hermes’ Philippine flagship store is located in Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati.

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