Dior’s Peter Philips on Male Beauty in Miami (Including Blade Runner-inspired Airbrushing)

The world-renowned makeup artist reflected on his work for the house’s Pre-Fall 2020 show.


Just before the annual Basel crowds descend, Miami and Miami Beach’s local rhythms invert. This happens pretty much overnight. Their paces get wound up; yes, the towns are known for their speed and splashiness, but on a day-to-day basis, things are pretty relaxed. Come early December, tense expectations have begun to effloresce.

The feeling coursed through a conference room at Miami Beach’s The Confidante hotel this past Monday afternoon, lights clinically bright, air extra conditioned. The annex was serving as the beauty testing area for Dior Men’s much-discussed Miami fashion show, which was held last night at the new Rubell Museum complex in the city’s Allapattah neighborhood. Peter Philips, Creative and Image Director of Christian Dior Makeup, sat down and cut right to it: “It’s like there’s this mellowness, but it’s also chaotic right now. Interviews, celebrities in town… there’s a lot to do.”

Belgium-born Philips is a world-renowned makeup artist at the pinnacle of his game. He retains remarkable versatility when it comes to image-making; he can do subversively bold (there’s a brilliant Irving Penn photograph, with styling by Phyllis Posnick, of a model’s milky-white complexion screened by a lace Mickey Mouse-esque mask), he can do polychrome bodacious, but he can also do supremely clean and effortless. His work that complements Maria Grazia Chiuri’s womenswear shows at Dior are a testament to no-fuss beauty. He has also created an all-gender makeup line, called Dior Backstage by Peter Philips, which is anchored in simplicity—earthy, neutral fundamentals like a lip palette with nine gradations of rose-y hues.

His men’s beauty tactic, since Kim Jones arrived, consists of a calibration between the fresh-faced and boosts of flash. “It’s natural looking, with a little twist from time to time, where we push it a bit further,” Philips said.

He pointed to Dior Men’s pre-fall 2019 show in Tokyo, where he and his team created adhesive skin decals inspired by Hajime Sorayama’s retro-futuristic cyborg illustrations and sculptures (Sorayama was a collaborator on the show and collection). Those metallic robotic accents were exactingly glued down models’ arm tendons and necks.

The Miami concept also had a “twist” befitting of the area’s reputation for fast living and even faster color: “We have airbrushed, Blade Runner-style eye makeup for some of the guys, mirroring the palette of the set. Greens and yellows. There were also a lot of bucket hats, which Stephen Jones made, so when the guys are wearing these, it sort of blends in with the shadow,” he said, “I’ll call it a ‘luminous shadow.’ And it was meant to give you a cyber-futuristic element.”

Dior Make-up created and styled by Peter Philips. Photography: J’Dee Allin for Christian Dior Parfums.

Dior Make-up created and styled by Peter Philips. Photography: J’Dee Allin for Christian Dior Parfums.

“I work intuitively,” Philips added. (He has done the makeup for Jones’s shows dating back to his eponymous label, Dunhill and Louis Vuitton). “We said, ‘ok, let’s try the Blade Runner in pastel thing,’ and then we tried some more and it became too much. There’s a lot happening with the collection, so we had to scale it back.”

The idea paid off, and spoke volumes as to why Dior Men has become one of the most influential labels in the menswear sphere: Jones surrounds himself with a sharp group, from Yoon Ahn on jewelry to Melanie Ward on styling to Philips on beauty, and more. It all gels together to maximize novelty and newness, with the bonus synergy of the final product genuinely coming across as a team effort. The beauty at Dior Men’s Miami show, though, was no doubt one of the night’s highlights.

Dior Make-up created and styled by Peter Philips. Photography: J’Dee Allin for Christian Dior Parfums.

Dior Make-up created and styled by Peter Philips. Photography: J’Dee Allin for Christian Dior Parfums.

Reflecting on his work for the show, and as a general practice, Philips concluded on a straightforward note. “I don’t think men’s beauty is seasonal. It’s about looking healthy, looking groomed, and bringing out the best of the subject,” he said. “It’s more like a basic routine. Basic essentials. Not too complicated.” That is, of course, unless you’re going for a neon band across the brow.