Photography by Anya Holdstock
Styled by Jennifer Eymere
BEAUTY: Creative and Image Director of Dior Makeup Peter Philips and Dior Men Jewelry Designer Yoon Ahn talk about the ultimate timelessness of beauty, global influence, and the new Rouge Dior Forever Lipstick.
While trends move at lightning fast speeds and the TikTok generation causes makeup products to go viral in a flash, Peter Philips’ approach to beauty is rooted in timelessness. It’s apparent in his work on the Dior runways, where the Creative and Image Director of Dior Makeup has focused on stunning beauty looks that remain fresh season after season. Philips has led Dior’s makeup team for over eight years, staying aesthetically classic, but innovating when it comes to product formulations, where performance drives his creations—like with the latest Rouge Dior Forever Lipstick.
Likewise, Dior Men Jewelry Designer Yoon Ahn—who also helms her own brand, Ambush—balances longevity and innovation in her own work, taking Dior’s house codes and remixing them for modern heirlooms. Storytelling is an important component for both creatives, who work on the same shows—most recently the Dior Men Spring/Summer 2023 runway—but from different poles. On show day, you’ll find Philips backstage perfecting the models’ makeup, while Ahn darts around the dressing room with jewelry samples. Creating “the complete package,” as Philips puts it, is always the end goal.
The pair virtually reunited to speak with L’OFFICIEL about beauty, global influence, and more. Dialing in from their homes in Paris and Tokyo, respectively, the pair have complementary international perspectives that they each bring to their work for the storied French Maison.
L’OFFICIEL: Both fashion and beauty are about boosting self confidence. How do you reflect that in your work?
PETER PHILIPS: I think it’s a very specific relationship, the link between fashion and beauty. When I create products, I have to think also of the woman who just wants to be beautiful, who doesn’t know about the latest fashion trends. Everybody wants to be beautiful. From full makeup galore or just a bit of tinted moisturizer; whatever anyone wants to feel and be beautiful. Not everybody wants to feel or be fashionable. That’s a totally different state of mind.
Fashion is seasonal and trends change. People who focus more on beauty want to have a product that’s loyal to them. I always make sure that when I create products that my main focus is beauty, so that women and men of any age can find something in my collections which they are not intimidated by, with a formula that’s really going to help them. Sometimes I’ll do a little twist on something, like with color or something extreme, just to show that you can push it and you can play with it and express yourself.
YOON AHN: For me, makeup is almost like a toy; any time there’s a new shadow palette that catches my eye, I need to test it out to see what’s so fun about it. So I do like trends, trying new makeup, and changing my looks, but there’s also a side that goes for the product that works for me and I stick with it.
L’O: Speaking of eye-catching products — Peter, tell us about the new Rouge Dior Forever Lipstick.
PP: It’s a perfect matte, long-lasting, non-transfer lipstick, which normally comes in liquid. But now we have it with all the benefits of a stick; it will stay for hours. You can drink your coffee, and there’s no mark. There’s a beautiful range of shades, and all the colors have a natural feeling to them. Even the reds, the bricks, and the darks all have an earthy feeling.
L’O: There’s an effortlessness to a long-lasting matte lip. And that also relates to the French girl aesthetic that people want to emulate.
PP: There is this fantasy of the French girl. That’s part of what we do; in a way we’re selling dreams. We offer products and designs and formulas and textures and visuals that help you to recreate something. And the French girl is actually based on the fantasy of a few iconic French women. When you walk around in Paris, there’s La Parisienne, as they say, which is that idealized French girl. She’s a very liberated woman. We are here to keep that myth alive.
YA: I feel like the whole clean girl aesthetic that’s been coming in is like a new generation of the French girl. The no-makeup makeup look, clean hair, minimal color tones, and all that. But it’s the modern version of it.
PP: It looks like it’s effortless. She’s a bit like she woke up and put the pin in her hair, a little bit of makeup, and she’s out the door. It’s always stylish but it looks effortless. And there can be the red lipstick and maybe a ‘70s vibe. Like Catherine Deneuve in the ‘70s — that kind of blowout with her hair in the wind and a loose silk blouse. It’s not like a New York woman who is always under control. Or like an LA girl who takes a lot of effort to look effortless. With French girls it’s a nonchalance. That’s something that we work on all the time and it evolves with fashion and time. But effortless is actually a good word.
L’O: Is that something you see in Tokyo, Yoon?
YA: Oh no, there’s no effortlessness. In Tokyo, they’re very calculated with how they put things together. The Tokyo aesthetic is a little bit different than what people think. Like how Peter puts it, there’s a lot of fantasy around what the Tokyo aesthetic could be, which is kind of stuck in the ‘90s and 2000s. A lot of people are still thinking about that kind of loudness. But if you come to Tokyo now, the past five years have been just…beige. Like, literally no color; everyone’s wearing shapeless silhouettes, but it’s all controlled, too. So it’s interesting what’s happening with Japanese trends right now. I would like to see girls kind of turn around a little bit. I miss the spice.
L’O: You both have to dream up new products quite often. How do you deal with the pressure to constantly innovate? Where do you look for inspiration?
PP: When I do shows, I have to take into consideration the vision of the designer, and that’s my inspiration. Where do I push it? Where do I hold back? What can I do to complete his vision, in combination with the whole team behind the scenes. I also have to make sure the makeup is balanced out. The collection is sold worldwide, can appeal to women, men, everybody who passes the counter in South America, in Asia, Australia, Europe, wherever. And they all have different expectations of a makeup product. They all have different beauty standards and makeup rituals and climates. And so in that vein, I try to be creative and then do what I can in my colors and my collections. I actually don’t mind working within those limitations, because you explore more. If you can do whatever you want to do, it’s easily lost. And if you work in a frame of limitations, you actually have to push the few elements that you have, and then you come up with something great.
YA: I think design is like problem solving. It’s a little bit different from beauty, although the approach to creativity could have overlapping similarities. For the House of Dior, it’s more about longevity, right? Is it going to be a lasting design? Does it make sense in the whole scheme of this storytelling of the house? It’s about introducing the elements that were found in the house and retelling or re-showing those things. I don’t look at it as a pressure necessarily. I have a clear understanding of what the objective is when I’m designing different things. I just have to have a different mind shift to understand what the place in the world is for those things.
L’O: Peter, you brought up the global aspect of the beauty industry. What global influences do you see on French beauty today?
PP: Formula-wise Korea has always been a front runner—BB creams, cushion foundations, and all that. In luxury, Paris has always been ahead. But there’s so much happening in beauty and so much openness because of social media. Even 10 years ago you didn’t have access to all that information. Now, you just order online and you can get anything. It’s a great opportunity to play around, discover things, and to express yourself. So where does inspiration come from and who’s the leader? It’s all a melting pot, which actually represents what the world is now. A nice melting pot of all kinds of influences, inspirations, and expressions.
MAKEUP Peter Philips
HAIR Seb Bascle
DIGITAL TECH Benjamin Markowicz
PHOTO ASSISTANTS Pawel Herman and Ocave Pineu Furet
STYLIST ASSISTANT Kenzia Bengel de Vaulx
MAKEUP ASSISTANTS Julie Camus and Yazid Mallek
by Sophie Shaw