The Lanvin designer on his limited-edition makeup collection, Lancôme Show.
We’re already Lancôme devotees, especially when it comes to mascara, but leave it to fashion visionary and Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz to make us covet something we’ve been using for years. He’s reimagined the packaging for Hypnôse Doll Lashes, Hypnôse Drama, Hypnôse Star, and Definicils with adorable (but chic!) graphics. And he didn’t stop there: He also restyled the Color Design 5 Shadow & Liner Palette. Here, Elbaz talks about this foray into beauty.
What do you think makes a woman stand out from the crowd?
Alber Elbaz: It’s her true self. When people think about makeup they often think about disguising or hiding the truth. But true style—and this holds true for Lancôme too—is about bringing a woman’s individuality to the surface. Not hiding it or playing a role, but truly revealing it. That’s how I see my profession: veiling the body to unveil the person.
Did you work on this collection in the same way you work on a show?
AE: First of all, you have to find the story you want to tell. That’s what this business is all about, so the process has to start there. I wanted to think about the stories you can tell with mascaras: a story of eyes, and their shape. A musician tells a story through the notes he plays, a painter transforms his canvas, and a fashion designer works with shape and color. So I took the four mascaras and built a story around them, with polka dots for Hypnôse Drama, stars for their namesake Hypnôse Star, hearts for Hypnôse Doll Lashes, and for the fourth mascara, Definicils itself, I took the legendary Lancôme rose and mixed it up with eyes. I wanted to maintain a whimsical, feel-good style. Mascaras tend to come in just gold and black. I wanted to create more of a personal touch. When you apply mascara you’re almost touching your eyes, so it’s a very intimate moment. It needed something truly personal that you can make your own.
It’s quite rare to find joy and humor in the world of luxury…
AE: Yes, humor isn’t generally in phase with luxury. But your key aim has to be to inspire emotion. A luxury boutique where everything is perfect and the staff look like models is rather like a pharmacy. You can make people feel with smell, taste, and above all with humor. I need to have my dreams and imagination inspired if I’m to actually buy a product. True luxury is about making people laugh and smile, saying, “I want that!” That’s how luxury becomes democratic. It’s not about creating an army of clones that eat the same things in the same places and share the same aspirations: It’s about giving people a reason to feel that bit happier.