Terry de Gunzburg, touted as the guru of colour, is still raring to go.
IT WAS a product that revolutionised the beauty industry when it was launched in 1991. But Yves Saint Laurent’s Touche Éclat – the brush-on concealer-highlighter coveted by celebrities and make-up artists the world over – would not have existed without French woman Terry de Gunzburg.
Born in a family of scientists, de Gunzburg loved to innovate and “wanted a bespoke house of colour that was very extravagant, completely free with no limits for creativity and luxury”. She launched By Terry in 1998, her own uber lavish make-up and skincare brand.
Two years later, de Gunzburg ended her 15-year stint as the international marketing and creative director of YSL Beauté to forge her own path. The story goes that she took Touche Éclat’s original formula with her, so YSL had to come up with a slightly different version of the product.
By Terry’s Touche Veloutee has been hailed as the holy grail of concealers, coveted for its ability to reanimate tired faces and sculpt a catwalk-worthy bone structure – no Photoshop needed.
Highly sophisticated and incredibly user-friendly, it combines “the purest, most precious pigments with light diffusing technology and ultra precise textures in the most luxurious formulations”.
“From YSL, I learned not only the essence of how to anticipate women’s needs, but how to create unexpected textures and formulas,” said de Gunzburg in an interview with Wall Street Journal early this year.
By Terry’s Baume de Rose, a nourishing lip balm, also gained overnight success among Parisian models and Hollywood actresses when it was launched in 2003.
“I like when science has a huge part in glamour and femininity. It has to have sensible science behind it, but a mascara or lipstick must always be a pleasure to use,” she was quoted as saying in The Formula, a beauty blog.
Now By Terry is in Malaysia, thanks to Kens Apothecary, the same company which brought in Aesop, Annick Goutal, Diptyque and other cult labels. de Gunzburg’s lofty presence was noticeably absent at the brand’s recent launch, but in her place was the affable, platinum-haired Sophie Kilian, another accomplished French make-up artist who has worked with a number of European celebrities and royals. Having freelanced for By Terry for the past three years, Kilian has adopted de Gunzburg’s “less is more” philosophy as her own.
“By Terry personifies French simplicity and elegance. The focus is always on the complexion and using minimal products to achieve a flawless face,” says Kilian, who adds that the skin-loving properties in each and every By Terry product set it apart from other cosmetic labels.
“Touche Éclat is just water and pigments; Touche Veloutee, on the other hand, helps you achieve more luminous, moisturised skin upon each application.”
According to Kilian, many women make the mistake of piling too much make-up on during the day, especially heavy foundation.
This new minimalism is what de Gunzburg has once described to the New York Times as “the colourless make-up, no-foundation foundation” trend. Although the look appears effortless, Kilian pointed out that, in fact, it requires a certain amount of work. But de Gunzburg has come up with the perfect solution, and one that most Malaysian women might appreciate: the Sheer Expert foundation. It’s sheer and lightweight, perfect for our hot, sticky weather.
For those who are into trends, take note: Kilian says brows are big this season. The brow mascara from By Terry’s Autumn 2013 Graphism Collection contains a tinted gel brush that structures the eyebrows, intensifies their colour and fills in gaps.
Meanwhile, Kilian, who has met de Gunzburg a grand total of four times because “she is always in the laboratory in France”, says her employer is a woman with a strong character. She related an incident in which de Gunzburg was searching for the scent of her new fragrance, Parti-Pris.
“She sniffed over 500 scents before she came upon the smell of tuberose. It’s not a very popular scent, but it didn’t matter as long as she loved it. It is her Parti-Pris and no one will change it. That’s Terry for you.”
But de Gunzburg had, for the longest time, yearned for a high-end, finely tuned fragrance collection based on quality, creativity and pure essences.
“My grandmother and mother were obsessed with French haute parfumerie,” she said to Harrods Magazine. “Growing up with that, it was natural to me to refuse an opportunistic, marketing-driven launch.”
And after last year’s successful introduction of her fragrance series, she’s all ready to launch the next batch, this time, an Oriental scent called Terrific Oud, out soon in 2014.
By Terry is available at Ken’s Apothecary, Bangsar Village II, Kuala Lumpur.