Dior’s Peter Philips Combats Digital Fatigue by Making Collages

Selfie by Peter Philips for W magazine.

Peter Philips, the creative and image director of Christian Dior Makeup, does not own a computer. He has an iPhone, an iPad Mini that he’s “never used,” and prefers to do various administrative duties offline (for instance, Philips doesn’t use online banking—opting instead to visit his local bank in person to deposit checks). So when the coronavirus pandemic forced him and the rest of the staff at Dior to work remotely, he suddenly had to be equipped with a laptop and, like much of the global workforce, learn how to join meetings via Zoom.

This sudden thrust into the world of technology was “kind of fun,” Philips admits, but true to his base inclinations, he longed for a more grounded respite. So he hightailed it from his apartment in Antwerp to his country house in Belgium (his parents live across the street), embracing a life not too far off from what might be seen on an idyllic cottagecore mood board. Inside the house, he rediscovered shelves filled with old magazines, something of a archive from the ‘80s and ‘90s, a time when Philips describes himself as a full-on “fashion victim.”

Pages from The Face Magazine, Architectural Digest, Wallpaper Magazine, and W were strewn in piles all over the home. To combat ennui in quarantine, he decided to put these vintage magazines to use, and pick back up his old hobby of collaging.

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Here’s part two of my ‘surreal ‘ collage beauty story for @voguegermany . I spend my confinement in Antwerp, in the country side. All my old magazines are in storage there, so I started flipping through them, in between zoom meetings , cooking and cleaning. I started tearing out images that I liked and that I could play with. Made tons of little, themed piles of images ( colour themes, shots of hands, flowers, lips, eyes, accessories, furniture, interesting backgrounds,….). I mean, there were piles everywhere, so much fun, but kinda addictive. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. It’s also very therapeutic, it was just great to have the time to work on it. And than it was all about cutting and pasting, all by hand , no photoshop, no computer involved. Just good old school collage craft. I just keep repeating this, cause people keep asking about photoshop. 😉 so, again, the collages are inspired on Dior linked themes, like the Domino Ball, red 999, Femme Fleur , Rouge Trafalgar,….. please enjoy! #rouge999 #dior @diormakeup #collage @christianearpvogue

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Here’s part two of my ‘surreal ‘ collage beauty story for @voguegermany . I spend my confinement in Antwerp, in the country side. All my old magazines are in storage there, so I started flipping through them, in between zoom meetings , cooking and cleaning. I started tearing out images that I liked and that I could play with. Made tons of little, themed piles of images ( colour themes, shots of hands, flowers, lips, eyes, accessories, furniture, interesting backgrounds,….). I mean, there were piles everywhere, so much fun, but kinda addictive. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. It’s also very therapeutic, it was just great to have the time to work on it. And than it was all about cutting and pasting, all by hand , no photoshop, no computer involved. Just good old school collage craft. I just keep repeating this, cause people keep asking about photoshop. 😉 so, again, the collages are inspired on Dior linked themes, like the Domino Ball, red 999, Femme Fleur , Rouge Trafalgar,….. please enjoy! #rouge999 #dior @diormakeup #collage @christianearpvogue

A post shared by Peter philips (@peterphilipsmakeup) on

When he was a university student in the 1980s (Philips studied graphic design at Sint Lukas in Brussels) his instructors assigned the students to make five collages each week. “It was a way for our professors to teach us how to work with images,” Philips explained on the phone in May. “And how to work perspective, how to trick people. From one image—or three different images—you could make a new image.”

At the time, Philips “fell in love” with making collages—as a form of expression, sure, but also as a zen, calming act. “It was all before computer times and pictures were retouched by hand, and you had to sometimes make make-believe worlds by cutting and pasting, literally,” he said. True to form, Philips has made dozens of collages in quarantine by hand: he’ll cut images out of the magazines with a pair of scissors, and tack them artfully onto card-stock paper with a glue stick. 

While the photo shoots Philips had scheduled pre-COVID steadily continued to be canceled, Philips decided to glean inspiration from collaging in the interim.

“I started thinking, ‘Because I can’t be shooting, maybe I’ll start to think about alternative beauty stories in collage,’” he said.

He flipped through the pages of French Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, making piles of lips, eyes, hands; piles of red, blue, green, or yellow motifs to stay organized. Philips created pieces based on various makeup items from the Dior Beauty line: one collage’s theme was inspired by the Rouge 999 lipstick color, another mirrored the color scheme of a denim-focused eyeshadow palette. Fashion editors took note of these humble works of art—German Vogue editor in chief Christiane Arp even invited Philips to create a spread of collages for a summer issue.

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Because of the Covid-19 confinement lots of shootings got cancelled or postponed. One off them was a six page beauty story for Vogue Germany. Christiane Arp , Vogue Germany’s editor in chief, offered to her contributors the platform of the magazine to find a creative way to make stories within the confinement restrictions. So I picked up one of my old passions, collage art, went through some of my old magazines and started cutting and glueing. I called it ‘Surreal Beauty forSurreal Times, each collage is inspired by something linked with Dior beauty. I hope you like it, check out the Vogue Germany Summer Issue. Thankyou @christianearpvogue for believing, creating and doing. @voguegermany @dior @diormakeup #dior #editorial #beauty

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Because of the Covid-19 confinement lots of shootings got cancelled or postponed. One off them was a six page beauty story for Vogue Germany. Christiane Arp , Vogue Germany’s editor in chief, offered to her contributors the platform of the magazine to find a creative way to make stories within the confinement restrictions. So I picked up one of my old passions, collage art, went through some of my old magazines and started cutting and glueing. I called it ‘Surreal Beauty forSurreal Times, each collage is inspired by something linked with Dior beauty. I hope you like it, check out the Vogue Germany Summer Issue. Thankyou @christianearpvogue for believing, creating and doing. @voguegermany @dior @diormakeup #dior #editorial #beauty

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Collage permeated Philips’ daily life in lockdown—he’d make multiple pieces in the evenings, after toiling away in the mundane universe of working from home. Following numerous Microsoft Teams meetings, phone calls with a member of Dior’s IT team to figure out how to use a laptop that’s “been in a drawer for six years,” Philips would sit at a desk and snip away, helping him reconnect with the foundation of his art: working with his hands. Resuming this old hobby had such an impact on Philips that he said he’ll keep up the habit of collaging in the future. Pre-COVID, his apartment in Antwerp was being remodeled. Once the construction resumes, he plans to convert what was intended to be a second bedroom into his own personal collage room.

“I’ll cling onto the scissors and glue because I totally lose myself in a virtual world,” he said, laughing.

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