August 29 2014

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Meet Clarins’ Ambassador Artist


The ties between fashion and art run deep. Who can forget the medium collisions that brought us such smash hits as Takashi Murakami for Louis Vuitton, or James Jean’s “trembled blossoms” prints for Prada? This collaborative spirit was in full effect at the Venice Biennale last week, as brands like Missoni, Hogan, Trussardi, and Hugo Boss vied for sponsorship duties. Similar partnerships between art and beauty are far less visible, but that’s about to change. A few months ago, Clarins named Chinese artist Yi Zhou its first-ever “Ambassador-Artist,” subsequently sponsoring her Venice exhibition, The Days of Yi. “Clarins supported my video Labyrinth that’s playing at the biennale,” Zhou explains, adding that “it’s free of any advertising or commercial restraints.” In return, Zhou is getting down and dirty with the brand’s vast collection of skin salves and cosmetics. “I’ve been doing a lot of intense training,” she laughs. “I’ve actually been taking classes to learn how to apply the creams!” Here, Zhou talks about her makeup bag essentials and some very exciting video projects that may make the next Clarins commercial a youTube phenomenon.

How did your new role with Clarins come about? Have you always been a fan of the brand?

I met with the family—Christian and Claire and Virginie [Courtin-Clarins]—we’re great friends. It goes beyond endorsing a brand. I respect the brand because I respect the family, the natural kindness that they have. But it’s quite a unique and unusual partnership. They sponsored my film and part of my exhibition at the Biennale and people were like, “Wow, we’ve never seen a beauty brand support the work of an artist before.” They support my work, and I can be a face of the brand in China.

So what does that entail—being the face of the brand, that is?

I’ve been working with them more closely, learning more about what I use. I’ve actually been taking classes to learn how to apply the creams. As an artist, one of the most interesting things I learned in these classes was that there’s a technique to applying them—the demos were almost like a conceptual piece of art. If I could take the aesthetician and put her up against a white wall and film her going through the motions, it could be like a Yoko Ono piece!

What is your typical beauty regimen like?

I don’t wear a lot of makeup because I’ve always been very careful about my skin. I started wearing masks when I was 11 because my dad was obsessed with perfection—so he wanted me to start taking care of my skin really early. Sometimes it’s fun for an evening to wear a lot of makeup but I do it very rarely.

But for an opening, you might break out a statement lip or something similar, right?

Yeah, a lip gloss like Clarins Gloss Appeal and maybe a red or dark burgundy lipstick. I always have a lipstick in my makeup bag. I apply eyeliner sometimes too, depending on the intensity I want.

Any newfound beauty tips you can share?

Hand creams are very important. It shows your status and how you take care of yourself. You can’t hide your hands. I use the Clarins Crème Jeunesse des Mains. And face oils! I love Clarins Blue Orchid Face Treatment Oil. I never really used them before because I thought they would be too oily. But this one leaves the skin hydrated without becoming greasy. I use it every night.

So can we expect to see some super-conceptual ad visuals from Clarins now that you’re on board?

We haven’t started anything yet, but maybe possibly. I will say that I am currently working on something about beauty. For now it’s confidential and secret but you’ll be surprised!

Beauty Insider