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The latest creation by Guerlain is a gem of a lipstick made with the powder of real rubies and designed by innovative jeweler Lorenz Bäumer.

There is an unorthodox economic theory that during a recession, women substitute small, entry-level luxury goods such as lipstick for more expensive products such as designer handbags. Reported by The Economist and The New York Times, it was Leonard Lauder, the chairman of cosmetics conglomerate Estée Lauder, who coined the phrase “Lipstick Index” as a proxy to the NASDAQ after he noticed an increase in lipstick sales in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks. And although the evidence to support this hypothesis is somewhat sketchy (or should that be smudged?), a gem of a lipstick is about to hit the market – in the midst of the credit crunch – that seems to have been designed specifically as an affordable alternative to high jewelry.

From a make-up artist’s perspective, the most important feature of Rouge G, the latest lipstick by Guerlain, is the ingredients that include the powder of real red rubies, which are said to contribute to a spectacular level of radiance. But, according to Olivier Echaudemaison, Guerlain’s creative director, this is a lipstick that was always intended to be much more than a beauty tool and was designed to “capture the quintessence of luxury in an object dedicated to the lips.” Fashionable jeweler Lorenz Bäumer was commissioned to create the Rouge G case, a striking vessel coated in polished white gold that recalls the rock sculptures of Arik Levy. (In fact, Bäumer cites Levy’s gold bar sculpture as his source of inspiration.)

“I longed for a new mysterious beauty icon that united the qualities of a powder case, a jewel and the most precious lipstick. This is why we called on the talented Lorenz Bäumer,” explains Echaudemaison, a long-time friend of the jeweler whose showroom is located on Paris’s renowned Place Vendôme. As briefed, Bäumer’s design surprises with a hidden mirror that springs open and turns the lipstick into a beauty hybrid that is part lipstick and part traditional make-up compact – a seemingly simple feature that women who have used Rouge G comment is in fact a genius innovation.

More impressive than its multifunctionalism is the satisfying tactile element of the case. Both its significant weight and the heavy click that resonates when opening and closing the lipstick are evidence of Bäumer’s training as a graduate engineer and the meticulous attention to detail that this instilled in him. The precious feel of the Rouge G case is such that Bäumer has successfully fulfilled his brief to create a “jewel” of sorts.

By selecting a jeweler to design a lipstick, Guerlain is acting in a long tradition of producing innovative beauty packaging. How a product is presented is of particular importance to cosmetics companies, and calling on the talent of a jeweler is just the next step in an industry that frequently collaborates with artists (in the 1930s Elsa Schiaparelli commissioned perfume bottles by Salvador Dalì) and architects (in 2008 Yves Saint Laurent asked Jean Nouvel to design a limited edition bottle for its L’Homme fragrance). Bäumer’s casing for Rouge G is particularly successful, perhaps because he is used to designing on a small scale, and is a lesson in product design that proves luxury can be produced on a mass scale and offered at an affordable an affordable price point (38 euros in Europe).

As Rouge G prepares to hit the stores, Lorenz Bäumer talks to us about his friendship with Olivier Echaudemaison and explains how this creative collaboration came about.

More info:

Rouge G is available from April 13, 2009.
www.guerlain.com
www.lorenzbaumer.com

To be placed next to photograph of Lorenz Bäumer:

“My collaboration with Olivier Echaudemaison came to life through an encounter, a friendship, which over the last fifteen years gave rise to this beautiful object: the most recent lipstick by Guerlain, the “Rouge G”. Many things bring us together: our love for quality, a feel for luxury, a job well done and our taste for real creation. This project appealed to me from the start. I am used to creating unique pieces and the possibility of touching a large number of women seduced me. What a formidable challenge!

The question that we asked ourselves from the outset was the following: “What can both our universes share”? Sublimate women, make them dream, glorify them. The texture of the lipstick, its color and its new perfume are the realm of the great creator Olivier Echaudemaison. Indeed, Guerlain magnifies femininity, bringing with it this hint of universal sensuality through touching, smelling and seeing. My universe is that of jewelry, of that setting for this beautiful gem that contains ruby powder. From a gold bar, I gave it curves with timeless sensuality. I tried to create a novel case, integrating haute joaillerie codes like invisible hinges, the spring that makes the mirror shine, the magnet, the laser inscription… innovation being at the heart of both our institutions. The aim of my creations has always been to offer a dream to women, so that they feel not only radiant with this new lipstick, but also so that they can treat themselves to a genuine jewel. This collaboration with Guerlain and Olivier Echaudemaison has inspired me an awful lot and the result satisfies all my expectations!”
Lorenz Bäumer



“I longed for a new mysterious beauty icon that united the qualities of a powder case, a jewel and the most precious lipstick. This is why we called on the talented jeweler Lorenz Bäumer.”
Olivier Echaudemaison

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