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In conversation with: Guerlain’s Creative Director, Olivier Échaudemaison

He has been with the house for almost two decades
Olivier Échaudemaison has held the position of Creative Director at Guerlain since 2000. Here, he chats exclusively with Buro 24/7 Middle East...

Olivier Échaudemaison is a legend in the world of beauty. Having worked with some of the world’s most famous women, he has acted as the Creative Director of Guerlain since 2000. Now, 17 years later, he is as much of an icon as the women whose faces he has made up over the years. Here, he speaks with Buro 24/7 Middle East columnist Farouk Chekoufi about his career, the products he can’t live without and what made the women he’s worked with beautiful beyond make-up…

How did your love for make-up begin?

It first began when I was working as studio hairdresser for Alexandre de Paris. I was working with with superstar models, like Veruschka and Twiggy, who used to do their make-up themselves and I wanted to play with the colours and make them even more beautiful. 

What’s the best thing about your job?

The fact that I get to make women happy by giving them style and radiance. 

To what do you attribute your success?

I had the chance to meet with famous women who talked about me and made me famous in this business. 

What does your make-up kit look like?

My essential products are: Lingerie de Peau foundation (in three different shades), a highlighting concealer, a black kohl and a black mascara, a hardly neutral or nude eyebrows palette, a dark eye shadow palette (smoky eyes), three or four lipsticks (a pink one, red one, as well as a matte texture), plus I never forget some Gloss d’Enfer lipsticks (clear and dark shades), and of course a Sun Trio Terracotta and a Light Terracotta, which I use as a blush or all over the face. 

What products could you not live without?

All of the above!

The evolution of textures, the quality of the products and simplification of use are the biggest changes I have noticed over the years. 

Who inspires you?

Women, no matter their skin colour or age. 

How do you transfer moodboards to a real iconic product? 

This usually takes several weeks. Meetings with the make-up team are necessary to talk, share, exchange and make suggestions about different ideas, and then we make choices that result in the products.

You have been in the beauty business for many decades. What has most changed over that time?

The evolution of textures, the quality of the products and simplification of use are the biggest changes I have noticed over the years. 

Where do you get your inspiration for colours?

I really like Li Edelkoort’s vision about fashion and travels. A recent exhibition of David Hockney also made me want to use more colours and harmony.

How many lipstick shades does a woman need?

Three or four colors are indispensable for each woman: nude for the morning, something fresh for lunch, a more intense shade after 5 o’clock and a real red or pink for the night. 

Does beauty follow fashion or does fashion follow beauty?

Make-up is fashion’s colour accessory, just like a purse or shoes. Make-up must coordinate with your look. 

How would you describe your experience at Guerlain for the last decade? 

It’s been an intense experience! Belonging to the oldest perfume and cosmetics maison in the world is a real pleasure because Guerlain reflects chic, Parisian style that all women can appreciate.

Your muse Natalia, what fascinates you about her? 

Her grace, her beauty, her elegance and her intelligence.


What is the best product for S/S18?

You are about to discover the new Rouge G, designed by Lorenz Baumer, which will revolutionise the lipstick world and will seduce women who like (affordable) luxury, modernity and exclusivity.

What are the master trends for Guerlain make-up S/S18?

The master trends for Guerlain will be high coloured lips, a bright and subtle complexion and long and feminine lashes.

Make-up is fashion’s colour accessory, just like a purse or shoes. Make-up must coordinate with your look. 

What can you tell us about the famous women you have worked with over the years?

Grace Kelly: I met her when she already was a Princess so she had a classic but fancy style, and loved to have fun and go to parties. 

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: I met her before she became Jacquie O and she always had lots of style and elegance.

Audrey Hepburn: Grace, beauty, elegance and charm in a delicate silhouette – she was always very graceful. 

Diana Vreeland: A sharp eye, a strict judgment and a gift to spot amazing talents and beauties.

Maria Callas: An absolute talent. A strong woman on stage but very delicate in her private life.

Duchesse de Windsor: She was chic and sophisticated which made this quite ordinary woman profoundly attractive. She knew how to take advantage of everything and everyone!


Now, read Farouk’s previous column with Silvia Damiani, the Vice President of Damiani jewellery which has just opened a store in The Dubai Mall.