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Meet Mon Shu: Karl Lagerfeld and Shu Uemura’s Iconic, Ironic Holiday Collection

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After using shu uemura’s eye colors to sketch his fashion illustrations for over 20 years, Karl Lagerfeld finally decided to put powder to paper to product, collaborating on a holiday makeup collection with the iconic Japanese brand. Prismacolor just doesn’t do the job like shu, and if you’ve ever tested their ME or IR formulas, you’d tend to agree.

The lineup is a salute to Mon shu, the collection's black-bobbed, ruby-eyed, Uma Thurman-meets-manga mascot. Mon shu’s crimson gaze touches every element, balanced out with wearable jewel tones for eyes and cheeks. The cherry-padded eyelash curler will make you feel like a Sanrio kid again, and the decorative and desirable premium eye lashes  are among the most unique pair we’ve spotted. Everything has a texture, a luster, and a pigment so divine, it has to be shu.

Karl worked closely with shu uemura artistic director Kakuyasu Uchiide on developing the line, who said the collaboration was a personal dream come true. We asked Uchiide to share the Mon shu experience with Beautylish. His words, below...

“It has been a long-time dream to work with Karl Lagerfeld. [He] and Mr. shu uemura were close friends. They had a strong mutual respect for one another. He has been using our eye shadows and blushes for his drawings for over 20 years. [Karl Lagerfeld] says they are better than pastels, and that no one else produces colors like we do.

Deep in his mind, he feels he has a very similar aesthetic to Japanese people. We are very proud that the master of design and fashion strongly believes in shu uemura quality.

When I first visited his atelier last summer for a meeting about this project, I was immediately impressed by his huge presence—a kind of powerful presence only a true master can have. For the collaboration, he prepared some drawings and a package mockup by hand. He drew even more—using our eye shadows—during the meeting. It seemed he was like a limitless source of ideas. I felt that he is pure and serious about beauty. I’m sure even his huge book collection cannot outdo him. He is probably one of the busiest people in the world; I’ve never seen a person enjoy such an endless schedule like him!

Mon shu girl wears the iconic style of Karl Lagerfeld, white shirt and black tie, and a very oriental hairstyle and makeup—just like him. It is the red that Karl Lagerfeld likes—the iconic color of shu uemura as well as Japanese culture. Mon shu girl has red eyes, a tint of ironic expression; mischievous and daring. It truly reflects his own personal vision of a Japanese manga character. It’s about the mood, spirit and inspiration.

There are six shades in each palette. The top two shades combined help to create a beautiful contour and gradation around the eyes. The left shade in the middle section can be applied on top of it for blending. Although the shades look classic and luxurious at once, the texture is very modern. The glitter shadows in the lower part create an accent. My recommendation is to apply them in the inner corner of the eyes or lower lash line. The red is meant to be used as blush.

The creation of new premium eye lashes came out of an interesting process. Karl drew a sketch, then I translated it, and created a handmade mockup. It was like a designer and an artisan working together in a fashion atelier.  

To me, although makeup is as a form of art, makeup alone can't be art. Illustrations can live in the imagination of the creator, but makeup and model must be together. In this sense, makeup should be real.

I believe Karl Lagerfeld’s presence and creations are timeless. I have always wanted to create a type of beauty that can be appreciated timelessly. 'Timeless' is a common thread we share. We often forget time has passed when we’re experiencing something wonderful.”

—As told to Beautylish

Karl Lagerfeld for shu uemura Holiday Collection 2012, available October at shuuemura‐usa.com