The Genteel
April 21, 2021


Shu Uemura and Karl Lagerfeld. Source:
Karl Lagerfeld Shu Uemura
Mon Shu: "I wanted to invent my  
personal vision of a Japanese manga."

Karl Lagerfeld is collaborating with renowned beauty brand, Shu Uemura, in a limited edition 2012 holiday cosmetics collection. The 17-piece collection includes eye-and-cheek shades, nail lacquers, lip colours, a base mousse, makeup remover, false eyelashes and various application tools including Lagerfeld's take on the iconic Shu Uemura eyelash curler - replacing the brand's signature black silicon with Lagerfeld's manga-inspired red. Prices range between US$27 for nail lacquer and about US$350 for a makeup box and products will be available online and in Shu Uemura stores in October.

While the fashion designer may not use the makeup line on himself, he has been a long-time customer of Shu Uemura's eye shadows, using them as his palette of choice whilst sketching his fashion designs: "I use Shu Uemura shadows to sketch, since they are such fantastic colours... other manufacturers do not offer such beautiful colours."

The use of red throughout the collection may seem unexpected from a designer who is partial to black and white for his fashion collections, but Ludovic Engrand, a Shu Uemura makeup artist, told WWD that Lagerfeld has always longed for the crimson shade in a cosmetics collection. "Red is a symbolic colour for Karl Lagerfeld, because he always dreamed of a red eye shadow to make his sketches. So they [Shu Uemura] created it in this palette for him."

  ...[Shu Uemura] was the benchmark for cosmetics lines that followed, such as NARS, MAC and Make Up For Ever.

It's a striking touch that is especially evident in the red-eyed gaze of the Japanese manga figure named Mon Shu whom Lagerfeld create specifically for the line's packaging. As an artist with an eye for detail and high ideals, the designer told WWD, "I wanted to invent my personal vision of a Japanese manga."

With black and red nail lacquers sold with nail strips featuring Lagerfeld's magna, as well as red and black fabric eyelashes, Lagerfeld's collaboration with Shu Uemura has led to a line that will appeal to a younger, urban demographic who covet an edgier look, over the more conservative 40-something, Chanel-wearing set. 

Renowned for his ground-breaking approach to beauty, the late Shu Uemura (who passed away in late 2007) moved from Tokyo to Hollywood in the late 1950s. He got his big break when he transformed actress Shirley MacLaine into a Japanese geisha in My Geisha (1962) and by 1964 Uemura had returned to Tokyo and founded the Shu Uemura make up school in Tokyo, where he taught aspiring make-up artists how to achieve techniques that he had learned while working on various movie sets.

But Uemura's most enduring contribution to the field of makeup artistry was the creation of the brand's mode make-up collection that combines intense hues with artful design - and, perhaps, was the benchmark for cosmetics lines that followed, such as NARS, MAC and Make Up For Ever. Through bi-annual cosmetic collections, the inspiring brand continues the legacy of its founder; one of innovation painted in the breathtaking shades that remain a key component in Lagerfeld's designs.

Karl Lagerfeld Shu Uemura
Shu Uemura x Karl Lagerfeld. Source:

As WWD reports, Shu Uemura's General Manager Vincent Nida agrees the collaboration strikes a creative chord between fashion and beauty. "Blending the borderless creativity of Karl Lagerfeld to the makeup expertise of Shu Uemura, we believe this collaboration will bring fun, excitement and modernity to the brand."

One may say that Lagerfeld's fashion vision hinges on the basics of black and white, in the same way that Shu Uemura's line was shaped on the founder's belief that beauty began with healthy, beautiful skin. As an artist himself, Lagerfeld's appreciation for colour appears to have led to the creation of a makeup collection that is as individual as the designer himself. By breaking away from monochrome shades and providing unexpected bursts of colour, purple liquid eyeliner and red pressed eye shadow really are the new black this Fall.

By focusing on innovation, which allows for such dynamic and colourful collaborations, both Lagerfeld and Shu Uemura continue to elevate the status of the fashion and beauty industries to their artful place. Although some may be hoping that this limited edition line will become part of Shu Uemura's regular collection, as it stands, the collection will be available in 18 countries only until supplies run out or, if you're lucky, until February 2013. No surprise, as with nearly all of Lagerfeld's projects, a touch of exclusivity is part of its beauty.




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