Derek Lam’s Travel Kit for Kiehl’s
Derek Lam began his career assisting Michael Kors in the 1990s. Since 2003, he’s branched out with his own unique label, and has most recently been responsible for the Tod’s ready-to-wear collection. His jet-setting lifestyle often finds him boarding planes for exotic locations around the world. So how does the womenswear designer brave a long flight, with all the crying babies and turbulence? Here, while discussing his new limited-edition travel kit for Kiehl’s, Lam reveals the secret. Two words: Lip. Balm.
Any tips on how to make flying less unbearable? I just totally relax and enjoy not being reachable by phone or computer, and getting meals at the right times. I mean, come on, you get to watch movies! You really have to make it a spa moment.
The great thing about Kiehl’s is its no-nonsense approach to making its customers look good. But you’re in fashion. I imagine you spend lots of time in front of the mirror, no? The first thing I look for is the quality of one’s skin. I really think that’s the most fashionable thing, starting with the best canvas you have. And that means, besides all the cosmetics and products, having a way of living that reflects on your skin. Having said that, I’m very low maintenance and I really don’t want to spend a lot of time putting myself together. You’re telling me that on the eve of, say, the CFDA Awards, you just slap on some moisturizer and head out the door? Definitely. Red carpets are made for women and what they are wearing, anyway. Guys are secondary. Why not include any face cream in the travel kit? Is that not the Kiehl’s cash cow? There were size limitations and we wanted to make sure that the kit worked with all of the universal flight restrictions. And besides, I use body moisturizer on my face. I mean, I sometimes even use it to condition my hair. The most essential item in the kit is the lip balm. My lips are always chapped when I am traveling. Plus, you can always use lip balm under your eyes, although I’m not sure if that’s dermatologist-approved.
What is it about Kiehl’s, specifically, that sets it apart from other cosmetic brands? I didn’t know about Kiehl’s until I arrived in New York about 20 years ago. I was working at Barney’s at the time, and everyone was talking about it. They’ve always had this kind of street credibility. When you think of New York now, there are only a few brands that come to mind: Barneys, Tiffany, and Kiehl’s. That store on 2nd Avenue is like an icon of the city.
Is it weird to think that the next time I floss while on vacation, I’ll look at my travel kit and think of you? Um, no. It’s amazing to be partnered with Kiehl’s. Whether people are flossing their teeth, using the lip balm or reaching for a condom, I hope travelers will think of me.
What do you make of this recent trend that pairs top designers with affordable chains like H&M and Target? I think the ultimate goal is to make clothes with integrity. I don’t think anyone goes into any field and says, I don’t want to have a large audience. I think consumers are so smart now that they can sniff out a purely commercial transaction. There are a bunch of celebrities who are doing their own clothing lines or cosmetics lines, and I’m always like, what’s the association? Like Jessica Simpson and her wigs. I don’t wear wigs, but yeah, I’m not really sure what that’s all about.