“What is more beautiful than life?” remarks Hermès creative director Pierre-Alexis Dumas poetically. “My job is not to hide beauty, but to reveal it; reveal natural beauty.” Dumas is personally introducing a new métier, and his select guests are entranced at the opportunity to witness the exceptional occasion. The reveal is Hermès Beauté, launching this month with a line of 24 lipsticks, a nod to the address of the maison’s roots at 24 Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris.
The entry into the beauty sphere is visibly an emotive one for Dumas, and, should anyone dare tell him that it is a saturated industry, it’s unlikely he’ll flinch. He’s never been one to pay much attention to what his contemporaries are doing. Dumas, of course, has a point. It is his clients his family-owned house serves – and around the world, specifically in the Middle East, women will be delighted to discover that their beloved luxury house will now service one of their favorite sectors – beauty. New clients will flock to Hermès Beauté as a first point of entry to the aspirational house.
To introduce Hermès Beauté, the artistic director references his paternal ancestor, Thierry Hermès, who made horse harnesses to pull carriages 181 years ago. While others designed ornate pieces to reflect the wealth and power of their clients, Hermès did the opposite. Light, minimal, and functional, the Hermès harnesses revealed the natural beauty of the horse. Dumas continues that his purpose as artistic director – and that of all Hermès métiers – is to maintain this ethos. The maison embodies a philosophy and a culture. “We’re about craft, ethics, and aesthetics. That combination is what has been inspiring and driving us in our work,” he says. “We do things when we feel it’s right, and when we feel that we have something to say. Our approach to beauty is sensual, enhancing what is naturally there, creating elegance and culture and pleasure to be the best of yourself.”
Dumas describes the result as the culmination of “happy work” by an expert collective composed of directors of various métiers – Bali Barret, artistic director of the women’s universe; Pierre Hardy, creative director for Hermès shoes and jewelry; Jérôme Touron, creative director for Hermès Beauty; and Christine Nagel, Hermès’s in-house perfumer, offering a fragrance to the lipsticks with notes of sandalwood, arnica, and angelica, ensuring the experience is wholly sensorial. Together, they have created a new line under a name that is a nod to a color first introduced to the house in 1925, for the occasion of the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts – Rouge Hermès.
This founding manifesto, which will pave the way for new objects, stories, gestures, and colors, begins with lipsticks in 14 satin and 10 matte hues, a lip care balm, an ultra-glossy Poppy lip shine, universal lip pencil, and a lip brush made of precious lacquered wood. The Rouge Hermès experience begins with outer packaging in untreated, recycled paper, through which the small orange box peeks through, offering a first hint of its precious contents with a flash of color. Inside is a neutral-hued pouch, carrying a totemic-shaped lipstick case in black, white, and gold. The lipstick is refillable and the case durable and assembled by hand in France. On the cap is an engraved plate, offering a playful, sensorial experience, and immediate satisfaction, should you rustle through your bag for your lipstick. Slide a color across your lips – the formulas’ names conjure images of spicy rendezvous: Rouge Casaque, Beige Kalahari, Rose Encens – and the delicate skin of the lips absorbs white mulberry extract and a high concentration of micronized pigments in matte version to assure long-lasting color with a single application. The satin finish formulas are bright and light-filled. Following the gesture of application, the lips upturn, and the face brightens altogether.
Originally published in the February 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia