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Megan Hess x Estée Lauder Holiday Collection

It is absolutely no secret that I absolutely love the holidays! I am that person who starts getting excited about Christmas in July! I love the decorations, the tree, planning presents, the holiday menu for Christmas day… I love it all. So, when Estée Lauder approached me to create the holiday 2019 packaging for their beauty products that would be seen in every one of their stores world wide… Well, I could not contain my excitement!

I’ve loved Estée Lauder as a brand for many, many years and knowing that the brand was started by such a trail blazing woman in Estée herself also makes me so proud to have even been approached to work with such an iconic brand. For the project, I would not only be designing and illustrating the global packaging for the holiday season, but each Estée Lauder counter, store and pop-up would feature my illustrations reimagined in different ways; turned into animations that were displayed on huge screens, life-size cutouts positioned around the store, interactive installations and my absolute favourite, an advent calendar full of Estée Lauder products!

One of the final holiday gift boxes designed by Megan that would be seen at every Estée Lauder store worldwide
Life-size cutouts of Megan’s illustrations at Estée Lauder Melbourne

But before I could experience any of that, I had to first plan what I would be illustrating. I completely immersed myself in all things Estée Lauder and festivities (no complaints here!) before I started to illustrate. I needed to incorporate games into the festive illustrations so I illustrated my chic characters onto playing cards, a backgammon board and giant swings! I worked closely with the Estée Lauder team based in New York, going back and forth with ideas and feedback for months until the illustrations were ready. I then flew to New York to meet with the team… I was so excited but also very nervous!! The Estée Lauder head office is on one of the top floors of a building on 5th Avenue, overlooking the hustle and bustle of New York and the beauty central park.

After a brilliant meeting with the incredible Estée Lauder team, they told me they had something exciting to show me and brought me to a set of doors at the end of the boardroom. I had no idea what to expect. And then like something out of a movie, the doors opened to reveal all of my Estée Lauder illustrations brought to life! The room had been set to look like an Estée Lauder store, full of the products with the Holiday packaging that I had designed, huge cutouts of my game playing characters, the countertop decorated with all my designs… It was so surreal seeing the illustrations that I had been working so hard on for months, actualised right in front of my eyes.

Megan’s favourite holiday swing illustration actualised onto the beautiful Estée Lauder packaging
One of Megan’s original illustrations for the campaign

Once I had popped my excitement bubble, it was back to Melbourne to finalise the project before it’s official launch. In the midst of everything else, I had also been working on my latest book, Elegance The Beauty of French Fashionand I was getting ready to embark on my international book tour to celebrate the launch of the book. And so off again I went! My New York book signing perfectly coincided with the official launch of the Estée Lauder collaboration – a jam packed schedule to say the least.

So, after over a year of designing and illustrating, there I was in Bloomingdales, New York, experiencing my work like I had never seen before. The whole fit out of the store in red, white and gold was the embodiment of the holiday spirit. To celebrate the launch, I illustrated live in store, creating bespoke illustrations for all attending, taking in every second of the incredible event.

Megan’s holiday packaging full of beautiful Estée Lauder products
Megan’s illustrated gold swing brought to life in store at Estée Lauder Haitang Bay

But that was not the end of it! Next, I flew to Haitang Bay, Sanya in China, for the unveiling of the Estée Lauder Holiday installation. The unveiling showcased all of the incredible Estée Lauder products with my illustrated packaging, beautifully displayed in a huge 3D structure created from my designs. The structure was over two stories high situated in the centre of the CDF Mall in Sanya – one of the world’s most high-end luxury shopping centres. When you looked at the structure from above, it looked like a beautifully wrapped present, so incredible!! The guest of honour at the unveiling was Yang Mi, a renowned actress and singer and one of China’s most popular celebrities. So popular in fact, that when Yang arrived at the event, there had to be a literal wall of hundreds of security guards positioned between where she was in the event; with the other media personalities, VIP’s and press, and the crowd. It was insane!

Following the unveiling of the installation was an extraordinary private dinner with some of China’s most influential personalities and celebrities. The dinner was hosted at a private villa in Haitang Bay that had huge illustrations from the campaign displayed throughout the space and even the table setting was decorated with my illustrations. What an unforgettable experience!

The Estée Lauder whirlwind of tours and events wrapped up in the most perfect way possible, illustrating live at Estée Lauder Melbourne, my home city, right before Christmas.

The whole project was a true ‘pinch me’ moment and honestly, one of the most exciting and enjoyable projects that I’ve ever worked on. It is something that I’ll never forget.

Megan in front of the incredible 3D structure, filled with Megan’s illustartions, seen right in the centre of the CDF Mall in Sanya, China
Getting ready for the Estée Lauder dinner in Sanya, China

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