Luxury & Fashion Biz News: November 11th, 2011 (Designer Lipstick, Lagerfeld = Snooki, and the Dior search goes on)

1.) Pricy Designer Lipsticks are the New Lower-Cost Luxury Indulgence:
“A decade ago, Leonard Lauder (of Estée Lauder) said that in a recession women flocked to buy cosmetics. He told The Wall Street Journal that ‘when lipstick sales go up, people don’t want to buy dresses.’ But these days, they might well find dresses more affordable. Designer lipsticks, like those by Chanel, Dior and Dolce & Gabbana, and ones from the small independent lines Edward Bess and Ellis Faas retail for more than $30. Guerlain, with its Rouge G de Guerlain line, and By Terry are closer to $40 . . . La Prairie Cellular Lip Color (is) $55 … while Clé de Peau Beauté Extra Rich Lipstick retails for a jaw-dropping $60.”

Adding to the heap, designer Tom Ford recently debuted an expanded line of lipsticks that sell for $48 a tube, and the Sisley Paris brand’s Hydrating Long Lasting Lipstick is $55.

These are not “inexpensive” little luxuries, and the popularity of designer lipsticks with prices this high seems to run counter to the idea that in a time of economic recession, women turn to cheaper items like lipstick, nail polish and perfume to make them feel better, as they can no longer readily afford new shoes, handbags or jewelry.

But the continuing buzz of high-designer collaborations with fast-fashion retailers — like Versace for H&M, Missoni for Target and Karl Lagerfeld for Macy’s — reveals that, no matter the economic jitters, the trend-conscious consumer still wants a wow-inducing designer name attached to her purchase and she’ll pay a premium to get it.

With designer brands Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana and Burberry recently entering the world of cosmetics (and in big ways), it’s clear that they understand exactly what’s going on.

*Related News: King of the High-Low Collaborations, Karl Lagerfeld, is even dipping his designer toe into the world of cosmetics with a limited-edition collaboration with global beauty retail chain Sephora (the collection is only available in Europe and Singapore), featuring two nail polish colors, an eye shadow palette and a holiday themed snow globe.

Yes, that’s right — a Karl Lagerfeld snow globe. Is there anything that man won’t put his name & image on? He’s everywhere lately, from designing wine labels, stemware, fountain pens, watches and Diet Coke bottles, shooting advertisements for ice cream bars and German cars, and getting his own stuffed-bear version, it’s turning into kind of a joke.

“Gorgeous . . . nice . . . sex-zee!”

*NOTE 1: Maybe Karl can try his hand at scented shoelaces next?

At this point, I think Jersey Shore’s Snooki perfume is more exclusive than the tidal wave of products by Lagerfeld.

“This is some fancy champagne. I’m gonna take it!”

*Speaking of perfume and Jersey: Simon Doonan writes at that he was mystified by the decision of the team at Chanel to name their latest Les Exclusifs perfume “Jersey”, but soon realized, after finding the perfume sold-out in NYC’s SoHo Chanel boutique, that the “good old-fashioned fun (of) cross-referencing the top notes of musk and lavender with the Jersey Shore gang and the table-flipping Real Housewives” might just have been a brilliant pop-culture marketing move.

Again, Lagerfeld isn’t any more exclusive than Snooki. The world is upside down.

*If it can work for Snooki: Former Reality-TV star Nicole Richie is inexplicably named “Influencer of the Year” at the Accessories Council Excellence Awards: “with an empire that includes jewelry, footwear, sunglasses and handbags, Richie refuses to expand for expansion’s sake. ‘With everything I do, I want to make sure that I take the time and make each category the best that it can be,’ she said.”

But what does that even mean . . . ? It’s not like Nicole Richie is sitting at a jeweler’s table cutting gems and soldering metals, or stitching boots and handbags together herself out of leather she scouted on a buying expedition in Italy.

So how exactly is she taking the time to make sure that each category is the best it can be? Is that like saying, “Sure, it’s manufactured on a mechanized factory line out of materials from a third-world country that I’ve never visited, and yes, we’re marking it up about 500% for retail, but it’s the best factory made, on the cheap, dramatically marked-up sh*t you can get!”

Influencer of the Year, indeed.

*Speaking of cheap trash: Christian Louboutin created an $1100.00 “Ecotrash” slingback that incorporated “actual detritus from the atelier’s dumpster, including thread, postage stamps, leftover sequins and fabric swatches from past seasons.”

The shoes look just about as bad as they sound, and remind me of the crime against humanity that Louis Vuitton committed back in 2007: Louis Vuitton Tribute Patchwork Bag

*NOTE 2: The Daily Mail reported that Louis Vuitton is “the most counterfeited brand in the world — just 1% of all products claiming to be made by Louis Vuitton are genuine.”

*Since we mentioned Sephora: Intrepid scent scientist Avery Gilbert takes a trip through the Sephora Sensorium interactive exhibit in New York so that you don’t have to: “Sniffing two dozen (fragrance) dry downs in a row was quite an experience, and the results were shocking . . . Enormous effort goes into designing the short-lived top notes that leap from the bottle and grab your nose and credit card. The heart gets some attention, if only as a pleasing transition. But dry down is almost an afterthought, murky and indistinct. Perfumes for the age of the short attention span.”

2.) House of Dior Still Looking for a Head Designer:
“Dior appears to be no closer to naming a successor for John Galliano following reports that negotiations with front-runner Marc Jacobs have come to a standstill . . . Jacobs’s ascension to the Dior ranks seem to be stymied by both his loyalty to the Louis Vuitton label as well as his desire to take his LV design team to Dior, should he be named creative director.”

WWD also reported that Phoebe Philo, said to be Jacobs’ replacement at Louis Vuitton should he move to Dior, is happy right where she is as head designer for Celine and doesn’t really want to take over Louis Vuitton, which would leave one of LVMH’s biggest cash-cow labels struggling to find an appropriately experienced and talented designer to replace Jacobs, precisely the situation that Dior is in now.

So it’s back to the drawing board for team Dior. While other names are now furiously bandied about in speculation, it’s becoming more and more likely that LVMH executives will simply leave Bill Gaytten and his team in charge of Dior. After all, it was reported that revenues increased for the label by over 17% for the latest quarter, meaning that Dior without a star-designer in the hot-seat is doing just fine anyway, thanks — and why put both Louis Vuitton and Celine in possible chaos just to fill the chair at a label that doesn’t seem to be suffering.

Despite the bomb of his Fall 2011 Haute-Couture Collection and the sniffy condescension from fashion critics like Cathy Horyn and Suzy Menkes, I think Bill Gaytten might just be the last man left standing, proving himself to be the perfect, understated and hard-working person for the job at Dior.

With Gaytten and his team successfully producing retail-friendly collections for Dior mens and womenswear, as well as Galliano mens and womenswear, for the latest round of Spring fashion shows — and sales holding steady — it does seem somewhat unnecessary for LVMH executives to keep trawling outside the fold for design talent.

Galliano Spring 2012 – designed by Bill Gaytten

*As long as we’re on the subject of global brands doing well: Watch and jewelry sales boost Hermès third-quarter revenue by 15.8%, with the company also announcing that they’re going to build two new leather processing factories because consumer demand is outpacing their ability to keep up: “Sales of leather goods and saddlery, Hermes’s largest product category, advanced 10% . . . .apparel and fashion accessories revenue rose 32%, while silk and textiles sales gained 24%.”

Perfume sales for Hermes were up 11.2%, even though they spend a fraction of their luxury-brand peers on fragrance advertising.

3.) Guerlain Woos Asia Market by Hiring Michelle Yeoh as New Spokesmodel:
“Malaysian actress and producer Michelle Yeoh will be the next face of a Guerlain fragrance, it has been announced by the house. The name of the perfume has not been revealed yet. The thinking heads at Guerlain are pinning their hopes on the actress’ popularity to help the Asian markets warm up to the idea of wearing perfume, a cultural habit which remains yet to be developed in the region.”

Other websites are reporting that in addition to (or perhaps instead of?) fronting a new Guerlain fragrance, Ms. Yeoh will be the face of the brand’s Orchidée Impériale skincare line in Asia.

Which makes more sense to me, as skin care is the real star of the global beauty market.

“The very magical side of what Guerlain represents”

*Meanwhile: The Oscar de la Renta brand moves in a completely different direction for their new “Live In Love” perfume launch, deciding against a celebrity spokesmodel and utilizing retro-glamor line-drawings that “look torn from a page of a 1950s Harper’s Bazaar” to represent the spirit of the brand, instead: “When I create and sell a fragrance, I’m not trying to say that [the women who buy it] should look like Jennifer Lopez. I think that woman should have an identity of her own!” said De la Renta.

“The new fragrance for women created by the man who adores them”

This is the second perfume launch for the Oscar label since they bought their beauty/fragrance license back from L’Oreal in 2010.

*Totally out of left field: And while in Tokyo for the opening of a new flagship store, Roberto Cavalli said that Chanel is for grandmothers, so hey, if you’re young, hip and fake-tan orange, then maybe a Cavalli perfume is more your style . . . ?

Though that sounds an awful lot like Snooki. And Jersey.

*Completely unrelated but nonetheless interesting: The West Hollywood city council voted to approve a ban on the sales of fur coats and clothes: “On November 8: WeHo’s leaders tentatively approved the first-in-the-nation ban on the sale of fur clothing. Pending a second and final vote, the ordinance will be passed . . . how this will affect Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs and Carolina Herrera stores, all near Melrose Place – and Fred Segal on Melrose and Crescent Heights – will be interesting to observe. Will we find some designers moving shops to other parts of town? That could be the fallout.”

The article notes that the Fur Information Council of America is located in West Hollywood — which is kind of awkward when you think about it — and that while most of the fur that’s sold in Los Angeles is from Beverly Hills boutiques, nearly half of the two hundred apparel stores in West Hollywood (which includes trendy Melrose Avenue) sell at least some fur items, with merchandise fashioned from animal pelts estimated to bring in up to $2 million in revenues each year.

If given final approval, the West Hollywood fur ban will go into effect in September of 2013.

I guess it’s a good thing that Lagerfeld already trotted out a full collection of faux fur for Chanel’s Fall 2010 collection, right?

Why wear real fur when you can fake it out of coal, petroleum and limestone?

So you see — Lagerfeld, Chanel, Snooki, they’ve got it all wrapped up. The rest of us may as well just order in some pizza and call it a night.


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