“I never assisted anyone,” says Peter Philips, the creative and image director of Christian Dior Makeup. “I learned from my mistakes. It gave me a chance to develop my own style.”
A painter’s son from Antwerp, Belgium, Philips was studying fashion at the city’s famed Royal Academy—fellow alums include Haider Ackermann and Dries Van Noten—when he realized he was more interested in what was happening backstage than on the runway.
Following graduation, he moved to London, worked for indie magazines, and soon established a reputation for thinking outside the kit. (Of particular note is an industry-heralded shoot with Raf Simons circa 2000, where he drew Mickey Mouse’s profile on a model’s face.) Collaborating with the likes of Steven Klein, Craig McDean, and others, Philips became a mainstay of every fashion photographer’s go-to list.
By 2008, he had been tapped by Karl Lagerfeld to lead Chanel’s makeup division. Six years later Philips decamped to Dior to reunite with Simons. And since the latter left the company, Philips has adjusted his approach to suit current creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri’s pared-down vision, a shift from Simons’s graphic aesthetic. He’s also gotten to know Bella Hadid, the brand’s new face. “She’s great but always late,” Philips says with a laugh.
His big releases for the fall include a long-lasting Rouge Liquid lip color in metallic and velvet shades, as well as Double Rouge, a two-in-one contouring lipstick juxtaposing a dark matte outer layer with a pearly color on the inside. “It kind of gives you that effect of the ’90s Linda Evangelista lip,” he says.
Even while working for one of the most vaunted brands in the world, Philips still appreciates today’s uninhibited beauty culture. “With the Internet, it’s all about experimenting and just having fun with it.”