Beauty / IN THE BAG

Gregoris Pyrpylis on Rothko, creativity and coloured mascara

Gregoris Pyrpylis holds maybe the most covetable job in the makeup industry: he's the creative director for Hermès Beauty, and has largely steered the luxuriate's launch into colour cosmetics.

Despite his relaxed disposition — he's Greek, after all! — Pyrpylis is the brain behind some of the most notable beauty moments in recent years: looks on Alexa Chung, Laetitia Casta and Ana Girardot, not to mention the biggest launch of 2023, Le Regard

Its first foray into the eye category, Le Regard made waves with its lineup of unexpected eye palettes (Ombres D'Hermès), coloured mascara (Trait D'Hermès) and artful 'objects' such as makeup brushes. Functional but with plenty of the quirk and whimsy Hermès is known for, Le Regard plays perfect with the existing beauty categories, Rouge Hermès (lips), Rose Hermès (cheeks) and Plein Air (complexion).

Upon returning to work after a summer off, RUSSH caught up with Pyrpylis via Paris to hear all about Le Regard, his current makeup mood, what's inspiring him and just what it's like helming the beauty luxuriate.

What originally interested you about beauty?

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an English teacher — nothing to do with makeup. But I was very interested in fashion, magazines, beauty and aesthetics in general. I would always stop at the kiosks in Greece that sold newspapers and magazines; I’d pour over the covers, the beautiful people on the pages. I was very interested in how such beautiful images came to be and the elements involved: hair, lighting, makeup, styling, photography… I found myself very interested in the individual elements and how they intersected.

It was at this point I started learning more about fashion, models, the big names at the time. Simultaneously my parents ran a pharmacy in Greece. I spent a lot of time there, and found the interactions between my Mum and clients interesting. There was trust, loyalty — there’s great loyalty in beauty. I think a lot of this played a role.

Mythology is also a big part of growing up in Greece, and our culture. Everything and everyone was portrayed beautifully. Medusa was evil, but she was beautiful! These were our cartoons growing up. In hindsight I think it had a significant impact on me.


How did you fall into makeup artistry?

I moved to Athens at 18, that was my coming of age. I was very interested in fashion and that world, but not yet makeup. I met my best friend there, we were getting ready to go out and she asked me to do her makeup. It felt very natural, I did quite a good job. From that point I enrolled in makeup school, and it grew from there.


What inspires you, creatively?

There is actually a beautiful exhibition in Paris right now by Mark Rothko. The colours are incredible. I have a feeling that Rothko would make an incredible makeup artist.

Everything is associated when it comes to creating a beautiful look or image. That’s why the great photographers always have an opinion on the hair, the makeup, the styling. I find a lot of inspiration in working with these creatives. One thing I’ve learnt working as a creative in this industry is that you need to have a point of view.


Do you find a lot of colour inspiration in the art world?

I do. There's another exhibition in Paris right now at the Museum of Modern Art by Nicolas de Staël. He has a similar approach, using condensed, very fragmented colours. His work is not the same as Rothko in the intensity, but colour plays an equally important role. It doesn’t surprise me that makeup artists find a lot of inspiration in art, myself included. I once read that Rothko would dilute his pigment with mediums to make them thinner, but then paint layer after layer to achieve a vibrant, opaque finish. I like to work in a similar way, applying weightless layers to achieve a certain intensity as opposed to one application of a densely pigmented powder.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Gregoris Pyrpylis (@gregoris)



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Gregoris Pyrpylis (@gregoris)


On the topic of colour, talk to me about the Le Regard eye palette collection. The colour combinations are fresh and unexpected, but still wearable. How did you arrive at the final edit?

Thank you for saying that. We spent a lot of time thinking about them, and how they would be used in real life. Some of the palettes are softer, more quiet. But then there is a surprise element or colour within each. They aren’t meant to intimidate, but inspire the wearer. I feel Hermès Beauty is well known for this — it’s practical and easy but also makes us dream. It appeals to the inner child, there’s always an element of whimsy. 


Eye shadow can actually be quite intimidating, especially for those that don’t wear a lot of makeup. Any practical tips for us?

Like the entire Hermès beauty line, Le Regard is very user friendly. There’s an ease to it. Part of the reason for the palette design is also to assist with application. There’s a base shade, a highlighter, a surprise hue… of course it’s open to interpretation but it offers a starting point for anyone unsure.  

The formulas are also very lightweight. As a makeup artist I love heavy pigment, but there’s a difference when you’re using something at home. It’s very considered, and I think it combines fun with usability. And of course it’s very special to look at. 


Initially I found it interesting that you launched with a full suite of coloured mascara, but colour is such an important Hermès house code, that I suppose it makes perfect sense?

Colour is such a big play for us! But six coloured mascaras is an interesting concept, I understand this for sure. What I love about Trait d’Hermès is that the pigment is quite discreet. It’s not overly obvious until you see someone up close, at that point you notice their lashes are burgundy or green. It’s a fun detail, and an accessible way to inject more colour into your makeup routine. You can play with two different shades actually, either one on each lash, or one on the top lash with another hue on the bottom. I think of it as a beautiful twist on classic eye makeup. 



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Gregoris Pyrpylis (@gregoris)

In your own words, what is it that makes Hermès Beauty different from other luxuriates?

I don’t see us as a professional makeup brand, we will never be the one to offer six different foundation options. But we do play with innovation, technology and creativity to create products that are useful, beautiful and of the highest quality. 

I feel what also differentiates us from other houses is that out products aren't born from a single point of view. it's not just me as the Creative Director of Beauty. It comes from an artistic collective, there's nothing one dimensional about it. I work on the textures and the colour theory, Pierre Hardy who works on the objects, perfumer Christine Nagel creates custom fragrance, she decides how each product should smell. We work very closely with the creative director of the women's silk universe Cécile Pesce. And of course everything is supervised by Pierre-Alexis Dumas, the artistic director of the house.  

This exchange of ideas is what gives us – what I believe to be – a creative edge. It's a wonderful way to work.


Who has inspired your career in the most profound way?

I worked with Tom Pecheaux for many years as his assistant. My vision and the creative universe I’ve built around makeup started with him. He’s very talented and discerning in his work. He looks for harmony in an image. He knows when to create something bold and when to withdraw to serve the overall vision. He never brought his ego into the room and that was an important lesson for me as a young artist. His technical skills are also incredible. He has this ability to add seamless highlight, or craft an intense lip and eye that are perfectly balanced. It was a privilege to work with him. We’re still in contact. 


What about your own beauty habits? Do you subscribe to any rituals?

I’ve always been very interested in skincare. My parents played a part in that! My mother was very loyal to her skincare routine. I definitely don’t have a nine step routine but I do cleanse, I use a serum and I moisturise. I’ll always do a mask too. 


I read you use the Tata Harper Clarifying Mask? I love that formula personally…

Yes! I do love that formula. My skin can be sensitive but it’s perfect for breakouts. It’s so cleansing. 


What about wellness?

I do love to eat well, exercise, I certainly notice a difference in my skin when I’m looking after myself versus periods where I’m busy or traveling and push it all out. 

I also love to hike, I love nature. I like to re-centre outside. I think it’s good to recharge the batteries. 

I think I’ve always had the best intentions to look after myself but as I age it’s becoming more important. My attitude at 27 was very different to how I am now at 37. 


Do you love to buy and test products?

I was recently in Asia and visited Tokyo and Korea. I bought so many masks, I was using them every second day. For a moment my skin had never looked better, but it  became too much. I became sensitised and had to stop! 


To finish, can I ask what’s next for Hermès Beauty?

Le Regard was obviously our entry into the eye category. I can’t say a lot but I will be generous and say it might not be complete just yet. There’s always incredible limited shades in Rouge Hermès, as well! 


Stay inspired, follow us.


Image: @gregorispyrpylis