We are here for a reason! It was decided to hold a photoshoot for Harper’s Bazaar in this old mansion. I couldn’t pass an opportunity to meet an incredible person – the creative director of Guerlain Olivier Echaudemaison. He is considered the main celebrity stylist of the last few decades, as he created looks for Jacqueline Kennedy, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. Olivier shared some of his thoughts, secrets and stories with me. Here are some of them!
I never did anything I didn’t want. When I was somewhere between 28 and 30 years old, I decided that I want to be free. I was constantly suggested to create my own cosmetics line, but I always refused, thinking it would be too hard. I never wanted to make decisions, feel that responsibility of power – it was too risky and dangerous. I just want to be happy every minute of my life.
People are usually afraid of change. But not me. I always wanted something new. I always tell myself “Ok, so what’s next?” And as soon as an event or situation ends, I forget about it. That was already in the past.
Modern fashion has a short shelf life. It changes every three months. Back in the days, trends could exist for years. For example, eyeliner arrows were popular for decades, while “smokey eyes” went out of fashion after just a few years.
Now there is more freedom in make-up. Want bright eyes and dark lips? Do as you wish! Before fashion was far more fixed, dozens of taboos, hundreds of prohibitions and endless “bad manners”. It’s much easier nowadays. And I think it’s for the better, because make-up is always a game and it has to be fun. You shouldn’t be too serious about your looks.
When you stand in the bathroom, look at yourself in the mirror and say: “Gosh, I’m hideous!” believe me, that would exactly the way you feel. In days like these, I recommend doing the best make-up you can do: red lipstick, pink cheeks, long eyelashes… Trust me, your mood will change with the first compliment. That’s because when people say “I like your lipstick”, they say “I like your smile!”
Being beautiful is not important. It’s important to be attractive. That’s not the same thing, you know. I look at people as if under the x-rays, as it’s the least significant details that make the look.
I am lucky in that I can be genuine with my clients, since I don’t sell them anything. I feel like the moment you start offering something to people, your relationship changes and not for the better.
Sometimes, lipstick is all a woman needs to feel like a celebrity, this is why little girls secretly try their moms’ lipstick, as this is a chance to feel beauty in its purest form. These first awkward strokes and sloppy contour – these are very important in any girl’s life.
You and Murad wrote two books. I wrote one, too. The difference is that you wrote yours for someone else, and I wrote mine for myself. It was therapeutic for me. My publisher literally made me do it, because I had so many stories: about stars, fashion, beauty and traveling.
Every story told by a person is mostly about him/ her. To write a book is to visit a psychiatrist. You share your thoughts, fears, successes and failures. You basically open up your soul.
The hardest thing in writing a book is to start it. I didn’t have a single note anywhere, even on a napkin, no diary, nothing. I didn’t know where to start. But one morning I woke up earlier, made myself a cup of coffee, put a piece of paper in front of myself and wrote my first sentence. Not perfect, but mine.
I served two years in Algeria when I was young. I ended up in the midst of warfare. We were constantly bombed, it was scary. Still, even in those terrible times, I didn’t lose my optimism. I was always one of the people who saw the glass as half full. And that it was a glass of champagne.
I don’t like serious people. Even in business. I like happy carefree people. Life is too short to take everything close to your heart.
Actresses and singers, icons and celebrities, even queens are just like you. Everyone has the same problems in the bathroom.
I adore working with members of aristocratic and royal families. They are always intelligent people with exquisite taste and perfect manners. They talk to others like their equals. Believe me, the higher the title, the better the manners. I can’t say the same about movie stars. They are constantly surrounded by a crowd of freeloaders, moral prostitutes, who try to get their piece.
I worked with global celebrities: Judy Garland, Mireille Mathieu, Sophie Loren… The most beautiful face I’ve ever seen was Elizabeth Taylor’s. Every facial feature was carefully sculpted by nature. She loved to love. And to be loved. That’s why she looked like she would go on a date with her lover in a minute.
I adored working with Audrey Hepburn. People still try to copy her legendary look, but they can’t. She had a very bright and pure soul; she never behaved like a diva. She was genuine and open-minded.