Lee Dong Wook, the face of Boy De Chanel, with the new cosmetic line

Ninety four years after the launch of its first cosmetic collection, French fashion house Chanel is launching its first range of men’s makeup – Boy de Chanel.

Named after Coco Chanel’s muse and lover Captain Arthur ‘Boy’ Capel, the range is currently made up of just three products −  a tinted fluid in four colours, a matte moisturising lip balm, and an eyebrow pencil in four shades.

Announcing the launch of the range which is bound to be watched carefully by other cosmetic companies considering investing in the largely untapped men’s market, A Chanel spokesperson told WWD that “beauty is not a matter of gender”.

“Just as Gabrielle Chanel borrowed elements from the men’s wardrobe to dress women, Chanel draws inspiration from the women’s world to write the vocabulary of a new personal aesthetic for men.

“Lines, colours, attitudes, gestures… There is no absolutely feminine or masculine prerequisite: Style alone defines the person we wish to be.

“By creating Boy de Chanel, its first makeup line for men, Chanel reaffirms the ever-changing codes of an unchanging vision: Beauty is not a matter of gender, it is a matter of style.”

The line will be launched in South Korea on September 1 with an advertising campaign featuring actor Lee Dong Wook, and will then be launched globally two months later.

The actor’s agency told South Korean media that it is the first time that a Korean celebrity has been chosen to model for Chanel rather than act as a brand ambassador.

“Chanel chose Lee Dong Wook for his stylish and confident masculine image, which they determined was a good fit for ‘Boy de Chanel’. Lee Dong Wook receives a large amount of love from not only Korea, but all over Asia including Japan, China, and Southeast Asia, so we expect positive effects [from this decision].”

According to leading data and analytics company Global Data, South Korea is an ideal launch location for the prestige makeup range as around “75 percent of South Korean males claim to do a beauty/grooming treatment at home at least once a week”.

GlobalData consumer analyst Lia Neophytou says “this offers a strong customer base for Chanel to launch a prestige, high-end beauty range for South Korean men to engage with, increasing the likelihood of product adoption and success”.

“Similarly, this will allow Chanel to leverage its strong brand heritage and luxury credentials within beauty and fashion to offer a point of differentiation in the male beauty space.

“This can be expected to be well received given the already established beauty regimes evident among South Korean men.”

Neophytou says Chanel’s new strategy contrasts with that of mass brands, such as L’Oréal and Covergirl, which have recently enlisted male brand ambassadors in the West to promote their makeup but are yet to launch male-specific beauty products.

“They have simply sought to make their existing portfolios more inclusive”.

She adds that while it is still relatively rare for a prestige beauty player to cater to the needs of men, it is not unprecedented, with Tom Ford having launched a range of male cosmetics in 2013.

“Looking ahead, ample opportunities remain for luxury brands to penetrate the relatively untapped male beauty space, particularly in the realm of colour cosmetics.

“Eastern markets will be a key platform for growth and for these brands, the success – or failure – of Chanel’s venture in the beauty innovation capital of the world will present a key indicator of the opportunity to invest in this trend.”