Monday, 26 April 2010

Homely Beauty vs Movie star Glamour

Following on from my last post regarding the blurring of lines between fashion and beauty, I must now consider the distiction between pitching a makeup line to an "us" or a "them". On the one hand, beauty products, by their very nature, are designed to embellish and enhance; on the other hand, beautiful models can be very intimidating - even alienating. Where to balance oneself, as a makeup line??

Interestingly, taking the fashion route - such as MAC have done for years, collaborating with designers, and now with various fashion houses branching out into the beauty sector - eliminates the need to "define" a brand, as its collections become fluid and unfixed, liberated by a license to follow trends as desired.

But a makeup company aiming to attract sales otherwise has to align itself either with aspirational beauty, or with attainable beauty. NARS for instance, in their new collection (pictured above), take Catherine Deneuve's Belle du Jour film as inspiration - injecting the glory days movie star glamour. Conversely, Dove famously made it their mission to "campaign" for "real beauty" (just not too ugly). And recently Bobbi Brown has done the same, with "Pretty Powerful".

I found the Scott Barnes book, "About Face" somewhat patronising in its attempt to insist all the women were beautiful "inside" and all had great causes... I prefer not to make makeup be about empowerment and outdated concepts such as releasing inner beauty. We have come far enough to be able to treat makeup as a fun expression of our artistic taste, or an extension of our wardrobe, so why the need to bring pop psychology into it?

I am currently reading L'Oreal's marvellous 100,00 years of Beauty tome, (review to come!) which, with around 300 authors - including artists, historians, philosophers, anthropologists and other specialists of 35 different nationalities - reinforces that there is no need to dumb down beauty with simplistic and dogmatic promotions.

What do you think, do you prefer overt beauty, or subtle beauty, in your promo images?

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