In the world of fashion and beauty, change is the only constant. Brands study trending GRWM (Get Ready With Me) Reels to predict what the Gen Z shopper might want in their wardrobe next season. Make-up tutorial videos offer some sense of which new colour texture should be introduced in the market. There’s a constant race to capitalise on trends. But there are some establishments that continue to stand proudly with their past, choosing to stay away from a world where today’s new is tomorrow’s old.
Since 1837, French luxury house Hermès has created a world of quiet luxury that celebrates artisans and their craft. Whether it’s the elegant silk scarf or the luxurious Birkin, the design house has managed to resist change, earning a loyal following.
It follows the same principles for its beauty line, a collection of lipsticks, blushes, nail paints, lotions and more, launched internationally in 2020, as well.
“Purpose… there has to be a purpose in what you do,” says Gregoris Pyrpylis, the creative director of Hermès Beauty, which entered India in May. Pyrpylis has worked with the likes of Cindy Crawford, Carla Bruni and Alexa Chung in a career spanning more than 15 years.
In an interview with Mint, Pyrpylis talks about bringing the Hermès aesthetic to the beauty line, why skincare needs to be a core part of make-up and his idea of beauty. Edited excerpts:
It’s been a one and a half years since I joined here. When I was approached by Hermès beauty, I felt it was just a very natural fit, because throughout my experience of 15 years of working in fashion, in magazines, with celebrities, in fashion shows, I have realised that people have the same vision of beauty—enhancing the natural beauty of any person. People, at least the ones I worked with, desire make-up that expresses every facet of their personality, never transforming or masking… never trying to change. At Hermès, we don't really talk about trends, because trends have this power of unifying the idea of beauty, they put you in a box, make you disappear in a crowd.
Everyone has their own vision of beauty. We are not trying to create one vision of beauty; we are aiming for timeless beauty.
If you offer well-being in make-up, you get timeless beauty. We have kept skincare at its core. Whether it's a lipstick or a blush, there's a presence of active ingredients in our products… either they're hydrating, or anti-pollution or antioxidant, or all of them. For instance, we recently launched a bronzing powder that has a semi-matte finish to enhance your natural skin tone. It is infused with real pearls, not glitter.
It's not a marketing strategy, to be honest. It’s just giving a good product to the consumer that’s worth their money. Make-up is not just visual, it’s also a sensorial experience.
The whole collection is inspired by the main brand… from the colours of the nail paints to the finish of the lipstick. The satin finish of our lipstick range, for example, is inspired by the box leather (delicate fine-grained surface with a natural sheen) that you see on our bags. The matte lipsticks have this powdery finish that reminds you of the Doblis leather (regular suede, with a smooth touch and a napped finish).
I often wear this one red silk bandana. When it’s close to my face, it illuminates my complexion, make me look well rested, and its touch is so soothing. It just brings me comfort and makes me feel like I'm home. That’s the experience I wanted in our creations.
At our silk workshops in Lyon, we have a library of colours that has about 75,000 references. It's huge; I don't think I have even seen all of them… that library is endless. We are looking at limited collections to play with different colours but, yes, it’s a challenge. Many times you are trying to decide between two shades that are similar but still different. So, we experiment with different shades. Like, there’s a coral colour inspired from the umbrellas you see in Capri, Italy. There’s a brown of the wood that you find on the yachts.
When I joined the company, I was never asked to create a collection to sell. My goal here is to create collections that reflect the DNA of the house. That’s why it took us so long to arrive here. We could have arrived much earlier, of course, there was pandemic and all, and with the kind of resources Hermès has, we could have quickly made make-up, skincare, accessories, everything, but we took our, to bring something little by little. It’s also a way to show our respect to customers; you don’t want to bombard them with products, you need to give them some time to experience the offering and then see whether they like it in the long run.
You also need to realise that our beauty offerings are also an introduction to the brand. It opens a door for new customers who have never tried experienced Hermès before. Let’s be honest, it’s the most affordable way to own an Hermès product. You might not be able to afford a scarf but by just owning a lipstick or blush, you can really understand the values of the house and be a part of it.
I grew up in a small city in Greece. My dad was a pharmacist, and mom used to help him at our pharmacy. Sometimes, I would help them at the pharmacy after school. During those hours, I used to notice many customers returning and asking for the same skincare or haircare products over and over again. I was five or six, but I was impressed how brand loyalists people were. Around the same time, I started developing these strong opinions of what my mom or my dad should wear when they drop me to school. When I was 4, there was this mirror outside my school, where I would see myself before entering the premises. I remember seeing myself one day and thinking something wasn’t right. So I asked my parents to take me back home so I could change clothes. Of course, I am much softer now but I had this aesthetic sense of sorts since I was kid. Growing up, I watched a lot of FTV, read fashion magazines. I found this world of fashion and beauty fascinating…the hair, the make up, the styling everything. At 18, I moved to Athens to study English to become a teacher. One day I was with my best friend and she had to go somewhere. I offered to do her make-up. I used one lipstick to do her eyes, lips and cheeks. And the result, if I can say so myself, was very nice. She loved it. And that’s how I started in the world of beauty.
I have worked with people who use makeup not as a transformation tool, but more for its enhancing power. They are looking for the well-being and comfort aspect in make-up.
I know it sounds cliched but when you feel good, you're going look good.