"Make-up is the most incredible fairytale" – Natalia Vodianova on Guerlain
The muse and her make-up
D rawing inspiration from India — think glowing golden powders, bursts of bright blues and enigmatic purple hues — comes Guerlain's latest collection designed by supermodel Natalia Vadionova and Guerlain's Creative Director, Olivier Echaudemaison. Here, Farouk Chekoufi for Buro 24/7 Middle East sits down with the creative duo in Paris to discuss the dynamic new Shalimar beauty collection and why it's as spontaneous as it is symbolic...
Tell us about the new Guerlain x Natalia Vadionova collaboration?
Natalia Vodianova: It's a product of love with Shalimar, with Guerlain, with Oliver, with India. It's been eight years since I first became the Face of Shalimar and it was a very spontaneous idea. I love this perfume, I love working with Guerlain.
Olivier Echaudemaison: It was a pleasure to create a look inspired by Shalimar, the fragrance, with the muse of the fragrance! Natalia has many ideas to appear even more beautiful than she already is. In my office at Guerlain, I have big bowls containing pigments; it really fascinated her. We wanted strong, saturated colours — the colour of gemstones plus gold, which are very present at Guerlain and in India.
How did the Guerlain Holiday Collection initiative originally begin, Natalia?
I came up with the idea, because, of course, Guerlain is always about beauty, it's about makeup as well as the perfume and it's about women. I love women, you know, I have great friends who are women, and there are some women who I really admire. The collection also has a philanthropic angle to it. Part of the proceeds go to the Naked Heart Foundation so we can build a play park and give laughter and love to children, which is also very precious to me.
What was the best part of this collaboration, Natalia?
Working in the ateliers with Olivier, who is one of the greatest makeup artists of our time. It was a dream. I felt like a child in a candy shop, choosing colours and textures. It was delightful.
How would you describe your experience at Guerlain, Natalia?
To me Guerlain is not just the most beautiful maison with the most beautiful products, it has an incredible history, an incredible heritage; it's also a real family. I love working with the team, they're very close. Also, pretty much from the beginning, the team has been involved in my charity work and together we've raised close to €1 million over the years. It means a lot to me that I have this incredible support, understanding and relationship. It's very rare.
Olivier: We share a special bond, a friendship, which goes beyond work and we trust each other. We both love beauty, sophistication and femininity: all of the values of Guerlain!
You went to India to shoot this campaign, and you travel a lot! How do you get rid of jetlag?
With Christmas approaching a lot of people do travel, and the only way to put yourself back into a routine is to adjust your body by manipulating it. Eat according to the time zoen. I mean, we're not starving children, we can afford to wait for the right time to eat.
When we went to India to shoot the commercial for Shalimar, together with Bruno Aveillan, it was just the most incredible fairytale-like experience. This makeup is the product, the child, of that story.
Which Guerlain products are your favourite in this collection?
Well, of course, I love everything. I love the Rouge G de Guerlain lipstick; it's really lovely. But my favourite product would probably be the golden eyeliner because it's a Christmas collection and this product is very, very sparkly. It's also waterproof and, of course, that's important for dancing all night.
How many cutting-edge products and colours do you have in the collection, Olivier?
Well, Météorites has its Stardust technology, Rouge G contains ruby powder, and both KissKiss and Rouge G have pure colours thanks to a very special treatment of their pigments. The pigments are actually crushed one by one to fully express their colouring power.
What is your vision of the Guerlain woman?
Natalia: I would say that it's a woman who wants to be feminine but who is also strong, who has self-respect and the self-confidence not to cover herself and not to hide behind her makeup but to allow the makeup to help her most beautiful features to come out.
Olivier: The Guerlain woman uses makeup to enhance her features, to boost her natural beauty. I do not transform a face, I try to make it even more beautiful with a few products. Guerlain is a style.
You once said there are so many ways to give. And your Naked Heart Foundation has teamed up with both Guerlain and Buro 24/7's Fashion Forward initiative. What are you planning to do next to 'give back'?
What's next in my philanthropic journey? I'm working on a project called Elbi, which is a platform that brings the power of the social and digital worlds to charities, to connect them with people around the world. It's an app that allows you to do small, quick actions every day from your phone.
In order to donate?
Not necessarily, no. It can be drawing a picture or posting a photo. It's the things that we're used to doing on social networks, but these are designed to help someone and make someone's life better. For users it would maybe take three minutes of your life, but to someone, it may mean everything.
The Guerlain Holiday make-up collection is available in the Middle East now. Also don't miss the newly opened Guerlain Spa at The One & Only, Dubai.