French-born Brooklyn-based makeup artist and influencer, Violette, has amassed a sizable following across her social media — namely 417k on Instagram — and her YouTube channel (violette _fr) where she doles out advice on how to achieve that always en-vogue effortless French girl look. It makes sense that the former Estée Lauder Global Beauty Director was chosen to succeed Olivier Echaudemaison as French luxury beauty brand Guerlain’s Creative Director of Makeup. In her new role, Violette will be releasing new cosmetics, including a new iteration of the brand’s cult Rouge G range of lipsticks.
A trailblazer in the world of makeup, Violette who believes in harnessing femininity through beauty will be using this to guide her and her creations in her new role with Guerlain. “My story with Guerlain is really the story of my femininity… As a little girl, Météorites with its little pastel-coloured pearls for the complexion had a real aesthetic impact on me. I’d stare at the box fascinated; I couldn’t wait to become a woman… I pictured myself at my dressing table putting on lipstick, perfume and dipping a brush into these incredible Météorites. Today, I’ve been invited to write the next chapter in Guerlain’s history as Director of Makeup. That’s the magic of beauty,” she says in her official statement.
We spoke to Violette to find out more about her new appointment, her influences and the power of makeup.
What do you see as your main challenges as Guerlain’s Director of Makeup?
I don’t think too much of the challenges. I am an Aries so I act more than I think ha! But as always, the one challenge for a creative is to make my dream come true. Sometimes I have this perfect product in mind but labs are not ready yet to develop it. I have to wait a few years. or sometimes you think of something fabulous but it’s just a fortune to make. Patience is a good ally to creativity!
How would you describe your unique place in the beauty world?
My first job is that I am a makeup artist from the fashion industry. But today I am also a CEO and entrepreneur. My mission is to help people use beauty as a way to celebrate who they are and nourishing a healthy relationship to beauty. I believe beauty is very much connected to mental health so I take this to heart. My only training is art and fashion design so I do my job with a very creative instinct.
Makeup isn’t just for fashion shoots, it’s for everyday too…
Sure! But I don’t see makeup as just an “everyday” aesthetic tool, it’s really a way to assert yourself through your own style and personality, and to some extent power. With a little red lipstick on your lips, black mascara across your eyelashes and a little blush over your cheekbones nothing feels impossible, the world’s at your feet! Makeup can have a profound impact on our emotions. I like the fact that Guerlain doesn’t impose anything or try to transform anyone with its makeup. They’re not about repairing, disguising or improving people, they want to celebrate beauty in all its forms and boost people’s confidence, putting on makeup is like slipping on a nice pair of heels.
Would you say makeup is like a fashion accessory?
Yes, exactly. The look and design of a product is equally important to me, it means you can put your makeup on in front of people in the street, in a taxi, on the metro or in the office. I don’t see it as something you systematically have to do on your own locked in a bathroom… Makeup products have to be beautiful if they’re going to bring out our own beauty. I can’t wait to start developing new pieces with Guerlain, I’m already dreaming about some of the objects I have in mind.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I “feed” on everything around me: an encounter, a beautiful landscape, the scent of my daughter’s skin… But above all I’d say that art provides me with endless inspiration. I’m in the habit of saying that art is the love of my life. I’m a fan of Jean Cocteau’s work; of painters Mark Rothko, Gustav Klimt, and Yves Klein; and Irving Penn’s photography… Their approaches to colour, lines and materials are all so inspiring to me.
Does Paris sometimes inspire you?
Of course, Paris inspires me, because even though I’ve lived in New York for several years I’m a Parisian above all else. I’m proud to be French, I miss my country so much! That’s why I’m so happy to take the makeup reins at Guerlain, a Parisian House through and through. I owe a lot to my French upbringing, from which icons I’m fascinated with, to that provocative insolence that only we as French people have, not to mention spontaneity and unabashed elegance. French women always prefer spending a little less time on making themselves beautiful so they have more time to enjoy life. This is the best definition of style!
A few months ago you launched Violette_FR, your own makeup brand. How do you envisage these dual roles?
After 17 years of experience in beauty, I really wanted to develop products that looked like me and embodied my vision of beauty and beauty ideals. Especially when it comes to sustainability and inclusivity. So when Guerlain asked me to head up its makeup collections I didn’t hesitate! It was such a gift and I feel deeply lucky and fulfilled. Developing my own innovations and thinking about a few others to add to Guerlain’s iconic legacy are two jobs that complement and enrich each other. My inspiration isn’t divided in half, on the contrary it’s just multiplied…
Can beauty as we know it today help women in their fight for equality?
I really hope so! I still think of how a red lipstick felt like a connection to my femininity and myself as a woman after I gave birth. Like “oh I am still there”. Make up is a powerful wellness tool and can help empower women. And I want to say women at any time of their life. The beauty industry has a tendency to not celebrate women after their 50. That is not helping to fight equality. We need to make sure once again everyone feels welcome and seen.
Harnessing femininity through beauty, is that what you would like to teach your daughter?
First of all I want her to know that beauty is plural, subjective, imaginative and without limits! And then I want her to know that she is perfect exactly the way she is, in the same way that we are all perfect as we are… All different and all unique. My little girl watches me put on makeup, she sees that it is not something I feel I must do, but that it’s a celebration. She has already started playing with my colour palettes and I think the word makeup (in French) was one of her first words… What I want to convey to her can be summed up with the following phrase: “be humble, have trust in yourself and work hard,” then the sky’s the limit.