“The first Rouge Dior was refillable!” exclaims Peter Philips, creative and image director for Dior Makeup, referring to the 1953 version of the house’s classic red lipstick. “Christian Dior created three options: the obelisk, which was classical. It was like an objet d’art that you put on your [dressing] table. Then, the lipstick for the handbag. And then, the refills—[department] stores had makeup counters full of refills, where you could pick your shade and fit them into either one of those lipstick [holders].”
Dior might not have had sustainability in mind when he launched the brand’s now-iconic lipstick, but Philips sure did when it came to designing his own, modern-day interpretation. “I’ve been trying to be more responsible,” says the Belgian makeup artist.
Since joining the brand in 2014, Philips has also been keen to address diversity and inclusivity—that’s why the lipstick now comes in 75 shades (a combination of red and nude options) and four finishes (matte, velvet, metallic, and satin) to suit all skin tones. The variety on offer also speaks to an idea of couture beauty, where you can tailor a look to exactly how you want it. To complement the collection, Philips is also releasing a Rouge Dior lip liner in 24 shades and the Dior Vernis nail polish.
Ahead of the launch, Vogue caught up with the makeup maestro via Zoom to discuss how mask-wearing has changed the meaning of lipstick and what the future holds for beauty.
What are you most proud of in the collection?
“The whole package. It was a huge project: 75 shades. It’s a lot. At some point, I was like, ‘Ok, maybe this is a bit too decadent.’ But on the other hand, for every woman individually, I almost don’t have enough shades.”
Where does the refillable concept come from?
“For inspiration, we went back to the archives and the first lipstick from the early 1950s was actually like a refillable concept. So that made it easier to sell it to the team behind me. The refill concept is something we’ve been working on for a while; I’ve been trying to be more eco-friendly—it’s a small step, but it’s got huge consequences. And I’m very proud of that.”
We’re living in a world where masks and facial coverings are the new normal. Where does that leave lipstick?
“The importance of makeup is not only what you see, but also what it does to you. The gesture of applying your lipstick, the sound of the lipstick closing — you taste it, you smell it. Even though you’re now wearing a mask, applying lipstick is part of your morning routine, it’s how you get your day started, it makes you feel good. It’s those little things that remind you how precious it is to take care and pamper yourself.
“Then there are moments when you don’t wear a mask—when you’re with your partner or when you have dinner with those in your bubble, whatever the reason is. Those are the moments where you can actually show off. It’s funny—I mean, a year ago, who would have thought that a simple thing such as wearing lipstick would be so complex? We took it for granted. That’s what makes it even more precious. The moment that you can wear lipstick, you can actually express yourself and be yourself completely.”
How do you think our relationship with beauty will change in 2021?
“I hope people will be able to find a balance in everything. And that will also translate into beauty routines. Express yourself in the way you feel best. People are more aware of the importance of taking care of yourself, each other and the planet. It’s a strange world out there and not everybody has yet found that balance. It’s going to be a struggle, but there will be moments where you can express yourself totally and there will be moments where you will be more discreet.”
And what is your vision for Dior?
“As a house, we have the responsibility to offer possibilities and give you choices. And that’s why this range is so huge because we can provide every woman in whatever culture, whatever region, in whatever context, ways to express herself. And even if you don’t want to express yourself, you can still take care of yourself with the lip balm.”
Which trends have you been inspired by recently?
“The nude trend. But of course, nude doesn’t mean beige. There’s a whole range of nude shades, from beige to rosewoods to milky red to taupe to soft brown.”
What kept you creatively inspired during lockdown?
“I worked from home. I literally didn’t have time to do anything. I had a lot of interviews and some of the questions were like, ‘What are your favourite books? What are your favourite films? Can you give me a tip or a recipe?’ but I didn’t have time to cook for myself because I was in Zoom meetings all day. We had to reorganise all the launches. A lot of beauty shoots were cancelled, and we still had pages to fill, so I had to find an alternative. So I started making collages, which is something I used to do when I had more time. And then as I was in the countryside with my parents I had to do all the grocery shopping for them, too. It was a very busy time.”
Sounds like you need a break! OK, last question—it’s a big one: what is the future of beauty?
“I hope it’s a bright one! It’s about balance. People will use makeup products and their appearance to express themselves, and not necessarily mould their beauty to somebody else’s [standards]. I hope people appreciate and respect their individual strength so that nobody is going to be judged for wearing too much makeup or not enough. It’s all about the individual and about taking care of yourself, and other people.”