Monday, 26 April 2010

Fashion taps into the Beauty market

The beauty industry, famously, can weather any recession. Be it the lipstick factor, or more recently ascribed to the foundation factor, we will always make sure there are funds for a quick pick me up. So perhaps that accounts for the influx of fashion houses turning to beauty for a more ready and willing clientele.

Most recently, Burberry have announced their beauty line. As WWD quipped, this brings a whole new meaning to "a coat of lipstick" haw haw. But indeed, quite seriously, Burberry insist that there is no makeup equivalent to the timeless, understated elegance and versatility of the famous Burberry trench coat. "When we were doing make-up, I felt like we weren't able to get the right attitude. It was either caked-on makeup or then just the wrong colours or tones. I wanted it to be this kind of effortless elegance," said Christopher Bailey, chief creative officer for Burberry. Of course this is clearly absurd, god only knows how many neutrals one could lay one's hands on - yet still, I am excited!

I think the packaging and pitch looks great: quintessially British (groan) and, as the Harrods buyers explain “Whereas other brands are screaming out for Hollywood glamour, Burberry Beauty has created a colour palette that is aspirational yet stunningly wearable”. The models will be wearing the Burberry trenchcoat in the promotional images and it's shot by Mario Testino. The line will accordingly take a natural approach, so will include sheer foundation, blush, pressed powder, bronzer, liquid foundation, eye shadow, eyeliner, lip gloss, lipstick and mascara. The products will be a permanent fixture and the line will expand “when we feel it needs a new pop of something, we will start adding things and that will all flow with fashion, as well."

Using the same approach, Topshop have suddenly retrieved their age-old makeup sideline. Yet this time around, it will be utterly associated with the great bastion of British High Street value, and its own renowned and cultivated fashion-forward attitude. The kudos bestowed upon its collections (not least by me, I spend thousands there!) is set to be refracted through the forthcoming makeup line.

Like Burberry, the core collection will be sheer foundations, or "tints", and seasonal collections - which from promotional images (there was an embargo on any info until magazines got exclusives so here are Grazia and Elle with some) looks quite interesting. I like the instantly Topshop black and white doodle packaging, and the limited edition gold 'YSL' like packaging looks cute too. It's been designed by a Topshop designer and created by a makeup artist, so it's pulling out all the stops.

The price points seem assuringly realistic, so I imagine this will do well. Again, we are told this is a niche product: the makeup artist Hannah Murray explains, "Usually you’ve got to go to specialist shops to find the kind of makeup girls wear at festivals". I reckon I could get the essentials courtesy of Collection 2000 actually, but nevertheless I am looking forward to seeing Topshop's makeup.

Some fashion led companies leave me cold however. D&G's relatively recent colonisation, in spite of Scarlett Johansson's best Marilyn Monroe impression, never lured me in. And similarly, Tom Ford's new lipsticks, £35 a piece, will not be on my birthday wishlist. I would need an elusive promise of plumping, anti-ageing, cosmic and life altering, to contemplate £35 on a lipstick. £20 is already pushing it but I can accept.

This is at the crux of the change. I assumed beauty was moving in a direction where the all-important link between organic, healthy, science filled world of cosmetics was paramount, yet here we are faced with a beauty landscape where fashion and colours are the basis. In Topshop/ H&M/ High street makeup, this equates to an impulse makeup purchase to match your shoes and fringe cardigan; in D&G/ Burberry/ Tom Ford et al, it is to attain a pinch of the label's luxury and designer status - with packaging a deliberate echo of the brand's eponynymous hero product.

Then there is the dreaded feeling that the beauty buyers are being exploited, sold something we already have ...

It is too easy to get embroiled in the Lime Crime fiasco, but in a similar pattern, the founder started out in fashion and settled on makeup - and there is yet another example of the creator insisiting she "couldn’t find makeup bright enough for her tastes and so Lime Crime was born... The line fills the voids in the makeup universe where 'whimsical' and 'high quality' are rarely found together." This review belies that. I would certainly never be tempted to buy any of Doe Deer's products, I find her constant references to unicorns and such rather grating. And her infamous (yes everyone INFAMOUS means notorious, it is not just 'famous' with 'in' there for emphasis get it straight aargghh please!!!) anyway yes her infamous attitude, coupled with a premium priced yet inadequate product, makes me hope that cosmetics are not being seen as a soft touch in today's fraught economic climate.

I want makeup to be constantly evolving, with an emphasis on new formulations, new colours, ok even exciting new packaging. Seeing it being absorbed into fashion seems to undermine the essense of my beauty fixation, and compromises its unique appeal. What do you think??


  1. Love your blog!...even though I think Tom Ford is a GENIUS I wasn't too keen on his lipsticks. I mean how different can you make it to justify the price point? I do love the look of the Burberry line being the packaging whore that I am ;-P...I will say that I am totally in love with the creamy eyes from Ellis Faas. Absolutely extraordinary product!! I just wish she would stop making those lousy sponge applicators. Thank goodness the creamy eyes come with a brush tip. You may want to investigate. Would love to know your thoughts. xoxo

  2. @Kokolaroo Ellis Faas is definitely on my radar! I am def going to check out and buy a couple of the eye pens I reckon... xx I appreciate innovative packaging too! Thanks!!

  3. I was at H&M's a while back and was gawking at that whole wall of makeup products that they'd come up with. Interesting to look at but funnily enough, I wasn't at all tempted to buy. I must have had some preconceptions. H&M = clothes and shoes and fashion accessories. Does not = makeup. I could be proven wrong, but I just wasn't diggin' it.

  4. @Witoxicity
    I think a big part of me agrees with you, it's confusing really - where fashion ends and beauty begins, or whether they really are all that related at all! Thanks xx