Hong Kong Madame - English

La Bouche Rouge, a manifesto for a new era of beauty

May 14th 2019

La Bouche Rouge, a manifesto for a new era of beauty
by Aude Camus
Last week I was invited to the Hong Kong launch of La Bouche Rouge  in Lane Crawford. La Bouche Rouge? The first ever makeup house in the world, and it’s a French one! A makeup house launched by a man – Nicolas Gerlier – who was looking at bringing meaning back to his professional life by combining years of experience in the cosmetic industry and environmental responsibility awareness. A man who wanted to show to people of his generation that you have to believe in your values, and you can succeed by sharing those values, you don’t have to wait to be successful for sharing. 


La Bouche Rouge, a manifesto for a new era of beauty
Hi Nicolas! Thanks a lot for meeting me today. Launching a make-up brand when you are a man must be quite a challenge right? 
Yes and no. Makeup is my background. I am initially not a marketer as I started my professional career at Sotheby’s after graduating in Art and Finance. But I very soon felt like it wasn’t the right place for me, and I moved to L’Oréal. I didn’t choose make-up, they chose for me, I believe it was also their way of testing me. So yes, it wasn’t easy at first, I mean I didn’t know anything about make-up. But I very quickly learnt to love it, I actually found it quite fascinating. Make-up is a perfect combo of formula, research, design … I also learnt a lot about the history of make-up. I find it crazy to see how something which was once a piece of art, a work of craftmanship, has now become the epitome of mass-market products. This is when the idea of launching my own make-up house. I wanted to put craftmanship and before marketing strategy and brand name.

And when did you start thinking about the environmental component? 
Again, my environmental responsibility awareness is the result of my previous professional experiences. I spent many years at L’Oréal, worked for beautiful luxury brands but at some point, I was like: “what is the meaning of all this?”. 
Also, our world is changing, and I am changing with it. 
In 2015 I’ve heard about this news which I found shocking: for many years, Western countries couldn’t care less about their plastic wastes because all of these wasted products were sent to China, until China decided they didn’t want to be the garbage of the world and wouldn’t accept those trashes anymore. This news wasn’t widely broadcasted yet I saw it and thought “I can’t believe people really don’t care at all about this”. I was working in an industry which was producing basically only plastic, but no-one seemed to give a shit about it. Do you have any idea how many lipsticks are thrown away every year? A billion! 
I first tried to change things where I was, at L’Oréal, but seems like it wasn’t the right place for my project. So, I knew I had to do it by myself. 
We are not a big brand, but I pride myself on making something meaningful. We made the choice to put our values before anything else and seems like it is a winning strategy since we are opening Hong Kong only a year and a half after launching in France and will also be opening South-Korea and Japan very soon. We are also exploring entering other countries in the next few months but won’t go to China as we will not test our products on animals. 
Really, just launching a new product wasn’t something I was interested in. It was more about sharing values than launching a brand. 

Why starting with a lipstick rather than any other product?

La Bouche Rouge, a manifesto for a new era of beauty
Lipstick isn’t just make-up. A lipstick is an accessory, it’s something you wear, something you show so it made sense to use it as a manifesto for a new beauty era. I want women to be proud of wearing La Bouche Rouge. 
But launching a lipstick with eco-friendly guidelines wasn’t an easy thing. The formula was quite a tricky part. I’ve been lucky to win the French Cosmetic Valley award and therefore be supported by great scientists. Thanking god for winning this award! Our formula is our signature. We needed the purest formula ever: no parabens, no perfume, no allergens, no endocrine disruptors, no plastics (which you would find in any lipstick from a big brand) … Lipstick is something you eat … it’s on your lips so it  goes into your mouth, don’t you think it should be eatable? We created a lipstick which is “so pure you can eat it”. That’s our motto. Marketing is great but I am putting my money on research first. 
But not only had we created a pure lipstick, we also have created something which is desirable. Eco-friendly today has to be desirable otherwise people won’t change their consumption habits. 

Today what is your first branding argument? Are you first a luxury brand or first an eco-friendly brand?
First of all, La Bouche Rouge is more than a brand, it’s a make-up house. Why so? Because a house has a unique savoir-faire. You have fashion houses, perfume houses but we are the first ever make-up house. I love to think that it’s a French house which is leading this new era in the beauty industry, using our unique cultural heritage to create new standards for tomorrow. For me, you cannot succeed if you are not proud of where you come from.
The French DNA of the house is key.

What’s next?

La Bouche Rouge, a manifesto for a new era of beauty
We have other projects, other objects that we are thinking of. La Bouche Rouge is a manifesto for a new era of beauty, and it cannot be a new era with only one product. But we don’t want to rush anything. 
We are lucky to make roaring debuts and can therefore afford to take our time. 
Actually, we are also announcing this week the use of a brand-new wax in our lipstick. So far, we have been using natural beeswax, but we realized that natural doesn’t always mean traceable. You can’t prevent the bees from foraging whichever flowers they want so can’t 100% be sure there are not toxins. This is why we decided to switch to a synthetic wax. Yes, it is not natural but what we also need to understand is that nature can’t provide it all to us humans. Nature resources are not inexhaustible, and we need to preserve them when we can. 

You are mentioning roaring debuts. What would you say is making you successful?
Having Ezra Petronio on board as our Director for design and creation definitely makes a difference as he also brought along a great network. 
I also think that people needed some fresh things. Beauty brands are launching something new every day but in the end it’s just always the same. I like to think that we brought back a bit of magic. 

One last thing. You are today selling in department stores, is having your own store something you would be interested in?
Of course. We’d love to have a house for our make-up house. But one step at a time. Today we are lucky enough to be selling in some of the most beautiful department stores over the world so there is no rush.


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