Tom Pecheux

the backstory behind estée lauder's first-ever front man

Ten years ago, makeup artist Tom Pecheux had a distressed Gisele Bündchen in his chair backstage at the Prada Spring 2001 show in Milan. The face painter was giving models fluorescent red lips and nothing else, and Bündchen—who preferred contours and mascara to bright pouts at the time—wasn't pleased. "I told her we'd try it and if she didn't like it, I'd tell Miuccia Prada myself that she would be the one girl in the whole show who didn't have to wear it," Pecheux recalls. With Bündchen's famous face in his hands, Pecheux painted on the red pigment while sneaking in a slight cheek contour to make the lip color work for her angular features (and her self-image), thus sending her happily down the runway.

"I always try to respect the woman and make the makeup work for her," Pecheux says, referring to his trademark sexy, chic aesthetic—a "beauty before creativity" mantra that has earned him campaigns with Gucci and Missoni and backstage turns at shows like Derek Lam, Marni, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Yves Saint Laurent.

After a career that's spanned two decades, Pecheux joined Estée Lauder as its creative makeup director last November, with the intention of injecting "fashion, fantasy, naughtiness, and above all youth" into the 64-year-old brand. His fall color collection hits counters this month, and with it, the self-proclaimed "bad boy with a good education" is out to have a little fun. Here, Pecheux talks about the joys of playing with makeup.

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—Celia Ellenberg

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