Makeup brand founder Uemura dies

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Shu uemura Cosmetics

The Japanese makeup artist Shu Uemura, who built up an
international brand of the same name, has died of acute pneumonia
aged 79.

The creator of the Shu Uemura makeup and skincare company, which was sold to L'Oreal in 2004, died on December 29, announced a spokeswoman for the company earlier this week. L'Oreal has named Uemura's chief makeup artist, who worked alongside the man for over 20 years, as his successor. The cosmetics giant has released a statement mourning the sad loss of 'a pioneer in the art of makeup and skincare, who upheld the great Japanese tradition in all his creative work'. "We are all extremely affected by this very sad news. Mr Shu Uemura was an extraordinary individual with whom we had the great privilege of working with great passion and enthusiasm over a seven year period,"​ said Jean-Paul Agon, CEO of L'Oreal. Uemura, born in 1928, attended beauty school in Tokyo before moving to Hollywood to become a makeup artist in the 1950s. He became known when he was called in to do the makeup for Shirley McLaine in the film My Geisha to replace the chief makeup artist who had fallen ill. Success in My Geisha led to Uemura becoming a favourite of many of the Hollywood stars of the time. In the late 1960s he returned to Japan, creating the company Japan Makeup in 1967 that became Shu Uemura in 1983. The company soon moved onto the international stage opening stores in many global locations including London, Paris, New York and Los Angeles. One of his first commercial successes was an oil based cleansing product which became a great hit with his followers in Tokyo in the late 1960s. The brand still specialises in cleansing products producing a range based on pure deep sea water and Japanese phyto ingredients, as well as an extensive range of colour cosmetics and makeup accessories. A controlling share in the company was bought by L'Oreal in 2004 when it increased its shareholding in the company to 52.9 per cent. At the time of the acquisition Shu Uemura was thought to have an annual turnover of €70 million, with the move reflecting L'Oreal's interest in the emerging Asian market. "This majority shareholding enables L'Oreal to strengthen its position in the luxury sector in Japan, and boost the pace of this brand's expansion all over the world,"​ said Gilles Weil, president of luxury products at L'Oréal at the time of the acquisition.

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