For Karl Lagerfeld, it was never just about the clothes. A designer, photographer, and illustrator, the German-born visionary had his hand in every aspect of what came down the runway. And while he was a man of many passions, makeup was an important part of his creative identity. In fact, it was an indispensable tool that even showed up on his drawing boards.
“Over the past three decades, whenever Karl sketched for a fashion show, or even more technically for the designers in his workshop, he used eyeshadow,” explains Caroline Lebar, head of image and communication for Karl Lagerfeld, inside the brand’s atelier on the Rue Saint-Guillaume in Paris. “He did it because he believed [eyeshadows] had the maximum [possibilities for] color.” That wide spectrum filtered into Lagerfeld’s iconic designs, from the tweed suits at Chanel to the cult Baguette bags at Fendi. “Karl was building a story with every collection, and there was no [disconnect] between the makeup and the clothes,” says Lebar. “He had a vision of how she dressed. How she did her makeup. How she did her hair.”
From graphic negative-space liner to saturated swathes of eyeshadow and bright crimson stamps of lipstick, Chanel could always be relied upon for a beauty inspiration. So it was only natural that Lagerfeld, who also happened to be a veritable master of collaborations, would have had his hand in the makeup game. In 2011, the Karl Lagerfeld fashion house released a capsule range with Sephora, and in 2018, it joined forces with beauty company ModelCo for another limited-edition collection. But before his death in February, Lagerfeld had been working on his biggest beauty collaboration yet: The Karl Lagerfeld x L’Oréal Paris collection, which made its European debut during Paris Fashion Week and will arrive in the U.S. in early 2020.
Finalized by the brand and by Lagerfeld’s team after his death, these beauty products walk the line between classic French femininity and the raw rocker aesthetic of “last night’s, lived-in makeup,” says L’Oréal global makeup director Val Garland. There’s an eyeshadow palette (from sooty onyx and navy to metallic silver and aubergine), an iridescent highlighter duo, a blacker-than-black pigmented mascara, a liquid eyeliner, and six vivid lipsticks (from orangey red Karismatic to deep purple Kontrasted). “Karl was all about black, white, and red,” says Garland. “And yet, the collection is still filled with color. He wanted to convey that you can play with it.”
Channeling Lagerfeld’s aesthetic, Garland worked on the collaboration’s campaign, which stars Helen Mirren, Doutzen Kroes, and Soo Joo Park, among other fierce women, and highlights many of Lagerfeld’s most quotable bons mots. “When I think of Karl, I think of one of his Karlisms—‘Elegance is an attitude’—because he always wanted his woman to be and feel beautiful, but with a twist,” explains Garland, who gave Mirren a glossy red lip and Park a bold reverse cat eye as they channeled Lagerfeld with powdery coifs and leather gloves for the kitschy campaign. With the industry’s collective desire to preserve Lagerfeld’s legacy, the launch of his most mass and expansive makeup collection comes at a pivotal time. “With fashion, there can be a kind of exclusivity around it,” says Lebar. “But makeup is everywhere, which means Karl is everywhere. There’s such a power in that.”
Originally Appeared on Vogue