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Chanel makeup guru Peter Philips on his most popular shades

June 24, 2011 |  3:58 pm


I'm working on a profile of Peter Philips, the global head of makeup for Chanel, who has made the brand's seasonal nail polish and lipstick shades as hotly sought after as its handbags.

He visited Los Angeles recently, and we had a lovely chat at the Chanel boutique on Robertson Boulevard. Naturally, he brought along some of the most popular products he's created in his three years with Chanel, and told me the backstories.

My favorite story was about Particuliere, the putty-colored nail polish from the spring 2010 collection, which was apparently created by accident.Chanel-particuliere-nail-vernis

"They were mixing colors in the lab and I said, 'Stop!,' " Philips recalls. "I took a look at the shade and thought, 'This is kind of particular. It's not gray and it's not beige, it's kind of weird.' " He brought the shade to the women he works with and they couldn't wait to put it on. "I know when I like a color, but that doesn't mean it makes a good nail polish," said the Belgian-born Philips, who can be credited with helping to legitimize funky nail polish colors and making them acceptable for all women to wear, no matter their age or occupation.

Once he had the Particuliere color, he needed a collection in which to put it. And he heard that Karl Lagerfeld's spring 2010 runway show was going to be set in a barn. "In French, the color is taupe, which is a kind of animal, a mole," explains Philips. "I said, 'Karl, I got a taupe for your barn.' "

That was the same season the wildly popular Chanel temporary tattoos debuted too. "The theme of the runway collection was Marie Antoinette in a barn, it was rough but elegant, and I thought we should do tattoo jewels," Philips says. The rest is waiting-list history.

Among the other popular products Philips created are the nail polish Jade, the Rouge Coco line of lipsticks (including the ingeniously named neutral shade Boy), the $250 Lumiere Byzantines compact and the Robertson Boulevard range of nail varnish colors for the opening of the store here. 

But what he's really excited about now is the fall 2011 collection, which will be in stores next month. He's going with metallics this season, and his favorite is Peridot. "It changes colors," he says, demonstrating on his own fingernail. "Like a peacock feather or a beetle wing." 

Very cool indeed.

-- Booth Moore

Top photo: Peter Philips, global director of Chanel makeup. Credit: Mariah Tauger/ Los Angeles Times

Bottom photo: Chanel's Particuliere nail polish. Credit: Chanel