Opened last month, the French brand’s first standalone boutique located at B1 of Ngee Ann City brings with it its debut makeup collection, created in collaboration with makeup guru Isayama Ffrench. Both editorial and thoughtful, the six-piece line includes The Colour Stick – a universal product that can be used on the eyes, lips or cheeks and comes in 16 shades spanning indigo to mauve – and modern essentials such as mascara and eyeliner in cool, foolproof black. Design and fashion fiends will dig the hyper-slick packaging that makes each item look like miniatures of Frank Gehry’s work.
There have always been beautiful beauty products, but some might say that the arrival of Hermes’ makeup collection earlier this year took things to another level. The Pierre Hardy-designed lipsticks came in a canvas pouch and the brand’s signature orange box. Many – myself included – declared it too beautiful to use (I eventually caved).
This month, the French luxury maison launches a limited-edition series for Fall/Winter 2020 comprising three shades of pink – the matte Rose Nuit and satin-finish Rose Ombre and Rose Pommette – with the lippies’ lacquered metal packaging getting a candy-hued makeover. “As artisans, we are dedicated to the beauty of useful objects,” said Pierre-Alexis Dumas, the artistic director of Hermes, when the range was first announced. “Beyond their use, they should be objects that give incredible pleasure. They should give satisfaction that is not due to its function, but rather to its aesthetic.”
Well before the pandemic, packaging already played a key part in the success of the digital era’s buzziest beauty brands (exhibit A: Glossier). With most of us spending more time at home than usual today though, it’s little surprise to find a growing appetite for beauty products that are not so much Instagram-worthy, but truly, Wallpaper-worthy decorative. (While there was little data on sales of this beauty category, reports of a booming online furniture and interior design market following the arrival of Covid ought to provide some insight into consumers’ tastes – and an artfully designed lipstick or bottle of perfume ultimately costs a fraction of that of, say, an arm chair or piece of sculpture).
In Singapore, newcomers to the beauty retail scene here despite the economic climate might further attest to this. Last month, French label Byredo – best known for its artisan fragrances – opened its first standalone boutique here at Ngee Ann City, and with it comes its first makeup collection hitting shelves this month. Founder Ben Gorham says his design approach was to consider the products as obscure objects of desire to be possessed as well as worn. That translates to a streamlined collection – six products created in collaboration with the makeup artist Isayama Ffrench – in futuristic-looking packaging with the highlight being a stunning eyeshadow case that resembles a pool of molten gold.
“My idea was not just to go paint a picture; it was to be inclusive to the point of saying that this can be anything to anybody,” says Gorham. “The idea (of the products’ design) was based on a curation of objects, so I designed them all individually with unique materials and shapes. They have an almost alien nature to them – things that could be thousands of years old, yet feel modern in their execution.”
Also reaching local beauty (and design) fiends this month: the Australian skincare brand Grown Alchemist that’s almost as famous for its chic, minimalist packaging as the clean-but-effective products within, launching exclusively on Takashimaya’s e-commerce site. “Customers largely shop with their eyes before they are introduced to the finer nuances of a brand, such as the efficacy of a product,” says Jeremy Mujis, who co-founded the company 18 years ago. “Our minimalist design aesthetic speaks directly to the purity of our product formulations... Beautiful packaging to us is the marriage of form and function: packaging that is environmentally conscious, designed with customer usability in mind.”
The environment is top of mind for Hermes too – one of the highlights of its lipsticks is that the cases are refillable and few have approached sustainability with the same artfulness. “Intuitively, to become timeless, this object must be able to morph, remain iconic, but stay fluid – part of a connected sequence and perpetually recognisable,” said Hardy, who’s also the brand’s creative director for shoes and jewellery, when the range first launched.
For Byredo’s Gorham, sustainability is more about making products that last forever and find a place in people’s emotional landscapes. “I think people are really looking for something else in the things they buy,” he explains. “They have to be functional, but they also need to connect with them in some other way, be it in their design or provenance.”
I’m keeping my tube of Rouge Hermes on the display case in my living room.
The sophisticated black/white/gold lacquered cases that this exclusive lipstick line debuted in earlier this year now get a more playful, Rothko-esque makeover. The lip colours they contain are all variations of pink, inspired by the transition from autumn to winter. Rose Ombre is a muted pink with brown undertones and a satin texture; Rose Pommette – also satiny in finish – is the most vibrant of the trio; while Rose Nuit is a matte velvety pink with hints of blue.
Launching exclusively here on Takashimaya’s e-store this month, the label is known for its clean, fuss-free skincare products focused on optimising the health of one’s skin. Bestsellers include its Hydra-Restore Cream Cleanser that helps soothe and reenergise the complexion while removing impurities and makeup, as well as its botanical-scented, skin-softening hand washes. The products’ sustainable packaging is equally simple yet chic – a nod to that used at traditional apothecaries.