Laura Mercier Celebrates 20 Years in Beauty | Nordstrom Fashion Blog

Laura Mercier Celebrates 20 Years in Beauty | Nordstrom Fashion Blog


Industry icon Laura Mercier's French accent is as smooth as her widely worshiped translucent powder. When we spoke with her at the 20th anniversary celebration for her cosmetics line, her voice lilted musically as she reflected sincerely and serenely on her two decades in the business.

As a sought-after makeup artist turned beauty maven, Laura Mercier has developed a successful global line with a devoted following; many of her signature products have become the industry gold standard-her tinted moisturizer has a spot in most pros' bags. In a candid conversation, Mercier shared a sliver of the wisdom she's gleaned from her achievements, including the beauty trends she's glad to see fade, the ones she's embracing and how bloggers have revolutionized the industry.

Laura Mercier with fashion blogger and photographer Garance Doré What have been some of the biggest changes in the beauty industry in the past 20 years?

Today it's obviously social media, pop culture, reality TV that's really influencing the beauty industry more than anything. You no longer can talk to people the way you used to. Even advertisements are done differently. I mean, bloggers! We were laughing at the beginning, like,"Oh my God, do they think they are beauty editors?" We didn't take it seriously. And look at it now. They are the biggest influencers. And we have great ones! So it's like a new generation, new culture, almost, in the beauty industry. I talk about it as a culture.

But we hopped on the wagon of using bloggers-they use us, we use them. I hate to say that word but it's a perfect exchange, the perfect relationship. It was important to choose the ones who had a link to our personality and our philosophy. One is Aimee Song. [She] was the first one and we developed a great relationship with her, and then Garance Doré is more [of] the French culture. She's my buddy. She talks with my same words. She has the same philosophy. It's almost like, "See? I'm not a unique weirdo alien from this country over there." Someone else is explaining the culture in France the same way that I've been explaining it. There are lots of differences in the way we see beauty, in the way we wear makeup, and so it's great because she can be the link to Europe in a blogger way.

How does social media affect what products you decide to launch and create?

I'm going to take an example: the contouring and the baking. We used to do that, especially the makeup artists in the studio. I started at the end of the '70s-I've seen a lot of trends. So obviously we did that, but in my mind it was purely super professional for the studio or for the videos or special things, not for real life.

Well, today, they're all into it. And that's what the Internet does. You know that it's happening as a trend-you see it on video, people show you and show this perfect reality-TV icon. Especially the young generation is just jumping on it. They're already convinced it's for them, so obviously then you can really create something that's already sold. It's almost like, okay, give them what they want. So I did it my way-I did a palette in a crème form because I feel it's more friendly. This way, if you don't control the pressure of your brush, at least you can take it off much more easily and blend it. It's natural.

Out of all the trends you've seen, which are the ones you're happy to see go away?

Well, that's a normal thing, it's a cycle. Everything is recycled. So we've done the '70s or the '80s, then '50s and '60s. Everything's kind of mixed with a new wind, so you never go completely back. I'm going to give an example: we had a little bit of the '70s coming back. We went for the lashes, but we didn't go for the harsh white liner and big lashes-it's never a literal copy of what it was, so it's much better.

In the '80s, the blush that you put at the temple in fuchsia and orange-that was weird to me. The placement of the blush, the colors, felt like all these butterfly colors on the eyes, and so it's great because we're reinterpreting this and I'm glad I'm not seeing them come back completely. I feel that in the evolution of the modern makeup we get inspiration from that. However, when I think back, when I was in the '80s, we had a ball! I mean, what a way to go. We thought it was fabulous. It's just because we are in a different time.

Also, the covered skin that we used to do. Makeup, especially in the studio, was very controlled. And the skin with white or peach and the rest of the body was kind of yellowish olive. And so that evolution in doing the skin like that is something that I would never go back to. Same thing with the dead matte face-powdered to death, when you don't see one inch of glow. I don't think we're going to see that again, and that's good.

Laura Mercier and Nordstrom Regional Beauty Director Derek Miller What would you say is the thing you always want Laura Mercier, the brand, to embody?

The soul. I truly believe that if we destroy the soul of this brand, we no longer have a point of difference and we no longer have a reason to be. Because there are great cosmetics out there, left and right. We see it all the time. It's not that people have bad product-not at all-so we all compete to have the perfect formula. And the labs are so highly technologically advanced today that we really have a great bag of options. Everybody pretty much has a pretty good product, more or less.

And the soul is also the approach to...I love the human being. I love women who are insecure and I love to give them something. I've done personal appearances where it was very emotional at times, where you could actually bring something to a woman who thought she was ugly and she would start so negatively in the chair and say, "I have this, I have that, I should have plastic surgery but I'm scared, and my skin is not good, my eyes are falling down and my mouth is not big enough." And envelope them in sort of "Stop it! Be more gentle with yourself and this is what we're going to teach you."

So there is a philosophy of we love you, we want to do something for you and we are at your service to teach you how to look at yourself in a different way-and cheat! Because makeup can make miracles. Our team of makeup artists has always been very faithful to us because of that. They love that they felt important. They were not just makeup sellers. Their artistry, their talent was very important to me, because at the end I'm just a makeup artist and I'm like them. So I know how they feel, how they breathe, how they work and it's important to give them enormous value for Laura Mercier because they're going to have to pass it on.

And like I said, there is no room for mean people here. If you're here just for the commission, I'm not interested in having you around. Please, you have my blessing to go somewhere else. So I ask more from them, which is a big challenge when you have so many people and you have turnover, too, but we re-teach and reform everybody every time. And I want to do that even better and better, where we have groups of people who are the perfect ambassadors for Laura Mercier in terms of being smart and talented and a little bit of a psychologist, and warm and loving so they can give more than just a bunch of colors on the face. And we have a lot of people like this, which I'm very proud of. And I want more of them!

SHOP: Laura Mercier

As told to Derek Miller, Nordstrom regional beauty director.
Copy by Hannah Cross.

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