Behind the scenes: New shade development and the naming process
As a writer looking through the Vapour canon of beauty, I can’t help but notice the names of the products and shades. Questions like: “What’s in a name?” and “Who names these products and how?” leads me to the doorstep of Vapour Co-Founder and Formulator Kristine Keheley’s Southside loft.
Large abstract paintings recently taken down from a show in a local salon are layered over Kristine’s living room and furniture, gorgeous colors everywhere. We sat on her large comfy couch and she told me about a re-upholstery project she’s been working on for the couch’s pillows; a new color was coming forward.
Kristine has “been an artist forever.” She began showing her work professionally when she was 25 and brings her experience titling paintings to naming Vapour products. About paintings Kristine says, “Titling a painting is an important piece of the communication that I’m having with the viewer. I don't title gratuitously and I’ve never shown an untitled work.”
When titling shades of Vapour or works of art, Kristine finds words with richness and depth, then the “user or viewer has an interpretation of what that word means to them.” Kristine paints about beauty and calls Vapour, for herself and Co-Founder Krysia Boinis, “an act of creative love.”
“There’s a long history in cosmetics of being evocative with names,” Kristine says. Vapour is meant to “coexist in a meaningful way with fashion house brands,” such as Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. When creating Vapour, she and Krysia want Vapour “to exist in a realm of glamour and poetry.”
While naming shades Kristine is thinking about “weather, romance, sex, love and flirtation.” Light is an important part of Vapour, which is “light on the planet and light on your skin,” but Vapour also creates light; a radiant look.
Take Stratus Skin Perfecting Primer as an example. Stratus is a type of cloud and the word stratus comes from the Latin prefix strato-, meaning layer, which is exactly what the product Stratus is doing. Kristine says, “Stratus is optically blurring. It’s perfecting. It’s kind of a cloud.”
In college, Kristine majored in Greek Archaeology, which inspired the name for the lipstick line: Siren. Sirens were the femme fatales in Greek mythology who lured sailors to a shipwreck with their entrancing music and voices.
Practically speaking, the question “What is the product?” is often answered poetically in the name. Mesmerize for the eye products, Aura for the multi-use color, Solar for the bronzer and Clarity removes make-up while clarifying the skin.
When we get to the names of the shades, Kristine says, it’s “about having fun.” And the most uniting theme for shades is romance and “playing with that idea.” Tease, Purr and Tempt are only a few examples. Mesmerize names speak to the imagination with names such as Nightfall, Smolder and Firefly. Trick Stick Highlighter is named what it does, with Dazzle and Luster, but also what it hopes to be, Star. Marrying the practical with the poetic truly is a gift of Kristine’s, and she’ll tell you, “it’s a dream job,” perhaps both literally and figuratively.