Amid all the flair and frivolity of the Dior Men’s Spring/Summer 2022 collection, there was an emphasis on a natural, healthy glow when it came to the model’s complexion. Belgian makeup artist and Dior image director, Peter Philips recalls a simple brief from his designer counterpart, Kim Jones: “Do what you do best … great skin for the boys.”
Naturally any editor will continue to ask (myself included) on how we can achieve this ethereal glow at home. The lauded creative is not one to skirt around the truth and in our short discussion he was refreshingly honest. Philips spoke on the benefits of a healthy diet and plenty of sleep before later making it extremely clear: “I’ve got a makeup brush, not a magic wand.”
In recent years the world has seen a sharp uptake on men’s dedicated self-care and tailored makeup – even Alex Rodriguez has entered his first foray of men’s concealer. Every season it begs the question as to what’s next for men’s makeup. And almost simultaneously, if we should even speculate given society’s ongoing discussion of equality. I put the question to Philips however, as a leading expert. While the makeup artist admits the conversation is complicated, he rests on one simple point.
“I do makeup on everybody, and I think that everybody should be able to wear [makeup] and everybody should have the choice not to wear [it],” he tells ICON and GRAZIA.
Here we speak on how Philips prepares the models for the runway, avoiding the five o’clock foundation shadow for men and what’s next in makeup (for all).
ICON: Upon receiving the brief for Men’s Spring/Summer 2020 what were your initial thoughts in approaching the skincare and makeup?
Peter Philips: “There’s so many collaborations. There is a collaboration with Travis Scott, there is the painter George Condo who did the shirts, Kenny Scharf and of course Kim Jones’ own platform and the amazing set design, the music collaboration with Victoire Castellane, along with the jewellery. There were many elements. This time Jones said, ‘Ok do what you do best. You do amazing, great skin for the boys.’ It’s diverse casting and it was all about that. Very simple, very pure to make them look great in their own identity; young, healthy, great-looking men.”
How can men (and women) emulate this at home?
PP: “Well, it starts with a good, healthy, basic lifestyle. I mean, I don’t want to say make-up routine’, but it’s all linked together. So, eat well, sleep well, live well, protect your skin, hydrate from the inside [to the] outside and that’s already a big help not only for your appearance but also for your state of mind. And once your state of mind is balanced out it will reflect in your appearance. That’s already one starting point. Then of course there are all the tools that we can offer to help. It’s a good skin care routine and if needed there’s also makeup. So, foundations and concealers, some powder, some things you need that can help you to look better.”
How do you navigate applying makeup to the natural landscape of a man’s face, for example dealing with stubble?
PP: “That’s the problem when you have facial hair [or] if you shave and then wear makeup. Some men grow their beard faster than others, so some men at about midday already have a five o’clock shadow. It depends, some men can go without shaving for two to three days and you won’t even notice thing. It’s all very individual now, like with everything.
For me it’s a general rule if you want to fight against it. That’s what happens when you have that kind of growth and you put foundation on top of it, you fight against it. That means it’s going to be a constant battle. It’s the same for example, when you have heavy eyelids and you want to wear eyeliner. You can do it, but you will be constantly fighting the elements and constantly retouching. Imagine you have fine lines going up your lip and you want to have a red glossy lipstick. You can wear that, but it will be a constant battle because you will be constantly retouching. It’s the same thing, and that’s a choice you make.
There are no magic tricks, there’s nothing I can say that can change that ever. I’ve got a makeup brush, not a magic wand. It’s fact. Now, you could go radical, which is to go for laser and get it removed. That’s a choice you make, or you fight it, or you just play with it – you let it grow. I mean, if that beard is an obstacle for you, is something you don’t want in combination with your makeup, then you should take care of that beard.”
Do you have the same approach with the runway?
PP: “For the runway we have the advantage that it just needs to look good for a few hours. So even if we have somebody who has really strong [beard] growth we just shave him and we know that it will last the time of the runway. It’s a very rational approach because at the end of day it’s all facts. It’s a tool, it’s a foundation, it’s a formula.”
In your opinion, what impacts have non-binary discussions in society had on makeup?
PP: “Personally, I think it’s all very complicated. I have always had a very open mind. Makeup for men, for me, there was never a problem, never an issue. Actually, I think when I started my career, I was one of the first artists who actually did makeup on men. My editorial that got the most exposure was extreme make-up on men in the beginning of my career, because nobody really did it. For me it’s always been, if I have an interesting face in front of me and it’s in the context of styling or a shoot and my touch can add something to make the image great, I didn’t care if it was a boy or a girl or what age or skin tone. It was all about a total concept. So, for me there was never an issue or barrier or a limitation to that. Whatever your gender is or whatever [you are] in this very complex range of identities, some people don’t need makeup.
“I do makeup on everybody, and I think that everybody should be able to wear [makeup] and everybody should have the choice not to wear [it].”
While Dior has its own Homme skincare line, it’s yet to release makeup specifically tailored to men. Is Dior Makeup inherently unisex and was this deliberate from the outset?
PP: “We have our backstage line which I use for men and women’s shows. It’s basically neutral shades that fit everybody, a huge range of foundations, a good primer, eyeshadow palettes, lip palettes, plumping lip products, all the basics you need. We already had an all-gender line for a number of year. Makeup for men evolved over the years.
I remember when I started in makeup, I did my extreme makeup. [But] the approach to do men’s makeup was always to not make it too feminine. Then everything was more black and white, for men and for women. For men the rule was if you’re going to do makeup it was more about virility… I think now for most people that line doesn’t exist anymore. I don’t think men who wear makeup really care if it’s used by their girlfriend or not. So, there might be specifics for skin in formula, there might be specifics in packaging because maybe men are a bit rougher and are not so delicate sometimes when they squeeze tube or use an applicator. But those are just details.
“I think it’s very strange that when everybody is always talking about equality and the old gender thing, that the next question is about which product is specifically for each group.”
It’s very contradictory. If it’s all equality, then they can all use the same product so far as I care.”
We saw a shift during the pandemic where natural ‘no make-up, make-up’ became increasingly popular. Now that the world has opened up once again, how do you see this changing if at all?
PP: “I’m sure there is going to be an enormous desire to express themselves and play with makeup once the masks are fully off. We have some really great formulas that we launched especially for the pandemic; formulas that are transfer-proof, lipsticks, ultra-caring lip balms. But I think once the masks are fully off people will have a huge hunger for experimental lip colours and lipsticks, for example. Foundations also because you don’t have the rubbing feeling of a mask anymore. I think it will be a fun part of rediscovering. Even if it’s been a bit less than two years of almost forgotten pleasures, rediscovering the joy of doing your makeup, rediscovering the pleasure of pampering yourself, of the full experience of feeling the foundation, smelling the foundation, smelling your lipstick, the sensation of a beautiful formula on your lips. I think it’s going to be an amazing experience to rediscover all that. I think people will know that it’s time to play again.”
Is there any particular colour or product that you predict we’ll be coveting over the coming months?
PP: “Of course, from my point of view the pandemic didn’t really stop us from launching because we launched middle in the middle of the pandemic… I would say lipstick because the masks are coming off, but to say one product, Rouge Dior. From lipstick to lip balm, everyone can be covered and find something that they like.”