Erdem Moralioglu Talks Beauty, Blooms, and the Power of Makeup

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Erdem NARS
Photo: Courtesy of NARS

When fashion designer Erdem Moralioglu teamed up with NARS to create a makeup collection, we knew we’d be in for a treat – introducing ‘Strange Flowers’, a dreamy line inspired by (you guessed) flowers. “It was really interesting to explore my aesthetic in collaboration with NARS and see how far we could push different elements through color and product,” he explains. “It was fascinating to develop new pigments and palettes as well as the cosmetics themselves.”

Featuring 13 petal-themed products – from beautiful blushes and eyeshadows to pigment-loaded lipsticks – the collection also boasts a first for the brand: a lip-powder palette featuring matte and metallic powders to perfect your pout. In this exclusive interview with Savoir Flair, Erdem reveals what it’s (really) like to create a makeup line and what inspired him with ‘Strange Flowers’.

Erdem NARS makeup
Photo: Courtesy of NARS

Why did you choose to collaborate with NARS?
I have been collaborating with the NARS brand for a few years now for both, our runway shows and pre-collections. It first started in 2013, so it’s been five years since we started working together. It’s been wonderful to collaborate with NARS; not only are the makeup artists extraordinary, but also the product developers.

How was designing a makeup collection different from designing your fashion collections?
The main difference is time. It takes more time to develop the products, and there’s so many other things you have to consider when developing new formulas – and specifically new products. As much as it was about formulas and new colors, it was also about new products all together, so this took much more time. In some ways, the creative process was very similar; the idea of where you want to go and how you want to explore certain ideas.

What challenges did you face when creating the beauty line, and how did you overcome them?
I wouldn’t say it was a challenge, but – again – developing something slowly and over time in a very considered way was a different experience. As you know, things move very quickly with fashion and you have to be able to make quick decisions. This project was something I was able to really develop. Every detail was something I was able to collaborate with, and it’s something I really enjoyed.

Erdem NARS
Photo: Courtesy of NARS

What inspired the new makeup collection?
I had a few different inspirations, and one of them was Molly Ringwald. There is an image of her photographed by Sheila Metzner that I find incredible. I was also inspired by my mother, but to me, the most overriding inspiration was the idea of a kind of flower and individuality. As much as there’s a beauty to them, there’s also a strangeness there. Some of the colors are more pretty, let’s say – and then some of them are more odd. I like the tension between colors in my own work.

Flowers have also inspired your fashion collections. Tell us why you’re so drawn to them.
One of the primary things I’ve always been fascinated by, and my work will always be about, is the exploration of the feminine with all its strengths and nuances. I think my work has also always been about that juxtaposition between the delicate and the bold. Part of that language of femininity has an element of flowers as well – the idea of them, their beauty, and their strangeness. I’ve always been fascinated; playing with them, manipulating them alongside their darkness and the lightness. It’s definitely something I explored within this collaboration as well.

Who are your ultimate beauty icons?
There are countless women I find amazing and inspiring for different reasons. I love Molly Ringwald, as I mentioned earlier. I’m also inspired by Alfred Hitchcock films with heroines like Tippi Hedren. I’m very attracted to strong, powerful, interesting, and intelligent women.

Erdem NARS Strange Flowers Makeup
Photo: Courtesy of NARS

What’s your earliest beauty memory?
My first beauty memory would be of my mother. She never really wore anything on her face, but she did wear very bright-red lipstick. I remember looking at the makeup in her bedroom – specifically at the colors – and really gravitating towards her brightest, reddest lipstick. It was very much the inspiration for two of my lipstick colors: ‘Bloodflower’ and ‘Carnal Carnation’.

Who is the Erdem woman?
The Erdem woman – and this is something I’ve certainly learnt since I opened my flagship store in London – is a gallerist. She’s a mother. She lives in Hong Kong, she lives in Paris, she’s so many different women. She’s 23, she’s 53. Even with this collection, I think there are so many different ways of wearing it, there are so many different licenses to it.

Beauty is a sincerity and honesty in yourself.

Is there one product in the collection that stands out as your favorite?
The ‘Poison Rose Lip Powder Palette’ is one of my favorites. I wanted to develop something that would be very graphic and bright for the lips, touching upon the early memories of my mother that I mentioned. I wanted something that was saturated in color, and the idea of the lip powder came about. It’s something that’s very new to the NARS brand. I also love the ‘Lip Priming Balm’ and all the different shades that can be used with it.

Complete the sentence: To me, beauty is…
Beauty is a sincerity and honesty in yourself. I think when you look completely natural in your own skin, that – to me – is completely beautiful. Not whether you’re wearing no makeup, one shade of lipstick, or you’re a boy trying on your mother’s eyeshadow. Beauty is when you’re truly yourself – whatever yourself is that day.

Erdem NARS
Photo: Courtesy of NARS

The Erdem for NARS ‘Strange Flowers’ collection is now available at all NARS beauty counters.

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