An era is ending at Chanel: after nearly three decades of helming the iconic brand's makeup creation division together, Dominique Moncourtois and Heidi Morawetz will retire on Jan. 1. They will be succeeded by Peter Philips.

"This is an historic moment for us," said Maureen Chiquet, global chief executive officer of Chanel, in an exclusive interview Wednesday afternoon. "We feel very passionately about creativity at Chanel, and we give our creative people the reins, so choosing a new creative person is not taken lightly for us. We've had the most dynamic duo in makeup working for us for the past 30 years, and we've benefited greatly from their creativity and expertise. And now they're passing the baton to a new generation."

Moncourtois, international director of makeup creation, joined Chanel in 1969 after working briefly as a cinematographer's assistant and a professor of makeup at the Film and Theater Academy. Hired by the house's namesake, Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, he worked with her until her death in 1971. In 1980, Moncourtois helped hire Morawetz as director of the makeup creation studio. A graduate of the School of Art and Design and the School of Fashion Design in Vienna, Morawetz had spent more than a decade working with leading photographers such as Helmut Newton and Patrick Demarchelier as a makeup artist.

During their tenure, Moncourtois and Morawetz masterminded some of Chanel's biggest cosmetics hits, including Vamp and Black Satin nail polishes and Rouge Allure lipstick. Even the pair's Paris studio has influenced Chanel counters: late last year, the company used it as an inspiration when creating a store-in-store specialty store concept for its highest-end U.S. doors. Together, they initiated Chanel's limited edition Star Products — fashion-forward color cosmetics compacts tied to what's headed down Chanel's runway that season.

Moncourtois has often described himself as a technician, calling Morawetz the "aesthete."

"Dominique has always been on the forefront of technology, both in textures and delivery systems," said Chiquet. "And Heidi has an incredible eye for color. Together, they've been unstoppable."

Chiquet, who joined Chanel four years ago after spending 14 years at Gap Inc., added she always saw Chanel makeup as "the gold standard.""While I was at the Gap, I was always keeping an eye on all of the interesting things Dominique and Heidi were doing at Chanel," she said. "Over the last few years, we've worked very closely, and I feel very close to both of them. They really took me under their wings when I arrived."

Two years ago, the pair decided it was time to step down, and a search for the next Chanel makeup creator started, said Chiquet. "They had both always been open about saying that they wanted to eventually pursue their own passions," said Chiquet. "When they decided to retire, they both wanted to stay in place to ensure a smooth transition and to train the next generation of Chanel creators. And they've promised to be on call if we need them."

The Belgian-born Philips has done several projects with the house during the past few years, making him a natural choice to succeed Moncourtois and Morawetz, said Chiquet. His title will be creative director of cosmetics when he starts in January.

"We've worked on several projects with Peter — he has worked with Karl [Lagerfeld, the house's designer] on several shows and he's done several makeup projects for us. In a way, this has been like a courtship — we knew Heidi and Dominique wanted to leave and we were able to see how well Peter understands Chanel and will live and breathe the brand," Chiquet said.

In fact, Chiquet added, the work proved that "Peter has displayed an ability to capture the very essence and spirit of the brand. His exceptional creativity, his sense of perfection and his attention to the smallest detail have all contributed to his worldwide recognition today. His thoroughly modern approach will play a key role in his new position and his focus will be on style. He will draw his inspiration from the timeless images of Chanel, while always looking toward the future. He has an incredible ability to make women beautiful in both overt and natural ways."

Added Lagerfeld: "Peter Philips is not only an excellent makeup artist, he also has the ability to create the perfect complexion. I was fascinated by his art when I worked with him for the first time."Philips graduated from the fashion design program at Académie des Beaux Arts in Antwerp and became interested in makeup after assisting former students at their Paris ready-to-wear shows. Over the last decade, he has worked on a long list of runway shows, fashion editorials and advertising campaigns, as well as with photographers such as Irving Penn, Mario Testino, Peter Lindbergh, Craig McDean and Mario Sorrenti. Philips also designed the makeup for the Chanel, Alexander McQueen and Balmain spring rtw shows.

"I believe confidence is what makes a woman truly beautiful," said Philips in a statement. "And cosmetics are something that can make a woman feel special and give that luxury of confidence."

Philips' first makeup collection for Chanel will bow for fall 2008 and will be on counter in July.
— Julie Naughton

L'Oréal 3rd-Qtr. Sales Up 7%

PARIS — L'Oréal announced Wednesday that third-quarter sales were up by 7 percent year-on-year to 4.13 billion euros, or $5.67 billion at average exchange, for the three-month period. On a like-for-like basis, sales grew 7.7 percent in the quarter.

That showing brought the French beauty company's sales for the nine months ended Sept. 30 to 12.64 billion euros, or $16.99 billion at average exchange, up 8.6 percent versus the same period in 2006, or 7.7 percent on a like-for-like basis. In a statement, the firm said currency fluctuations had a negative impact of 3.2 percent in the nine-month period.

On the back of sales growth for the nine months, L'Oréal's chief executive officer, Jean-Paul Agon, confirmed the company's like-for-like, full-year sales growth target of between 7 and 8 percent.

"We are confirming our target of double-digit net earnings per share growth in 2007," he continued.

By division in the third quarter, sales of professional products increased 16.7 percent to 615.9 million euros, or $846.4 million, boosted by the acquisition of PureOlogy in May; sales of consumer products grew 5.8 percent to 2.01 billion euros, or $2.77 billion; sales of luxury products rose 3.5 percent to 938.8 million euros, or $1.29 billion, while its active cosmetics division grew by 11 percent to 268.3 million euros, or $368.7 million. On a like-for-like basis, sales were up 7.1 percent, 8 percent, 7.2 percent and 9.4 percent, respectively.By region, L'Oréal reported "strong dynamism" in its "rest of the world" zone where sales grew 15.6 percent to 1.13 billion euros, or $1.56 billion. Western Europe increased sales by 3.7 percent to 1.68 billion euros, or $2.31 billion, and North America showed a "gradual improvement," according to the company, with sales up 3.9 percent to 1.04 billion euros, or $1.43 billion.
— Ellen Groves

Ulta Begins Nasdaq Trading

NEW YORK — Beauty retailer Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance Inc. is slated to begin life as a public company at the opening bell of the Nasdaq Global Select Market today.

Ulta's president and chief executive officer Lyn Kirby is scheduled to preside at the opening bell.

Earlier this week, Ulta raised the estimated price for its initial public offering of about 8.5 million shares to a range of $17 to $18 a share, up from its original forecast of $14 to $16 a share.

Ulta expected to raise $121.2 million by selling about 7.7 million shares, and to use the net proceeds to pay accumulated dividends in arrears and repay debt. The shares will trade under the symbol "ULTA."

The Romeoville, Ill.-based beauty retailer has built a chain of about 211 stores across 26 states by planting its flag in suburban off-mall shopping centers. Unlike its competitors — which include drugstores, department stores, specialty shops and electronic retailers — Ulta stores house a mix of more than 500 mass, salon and prestige beauty brands under one roof.

Its full-service salon component allows Ulta to stock professional hair care brands, and its emphasis on service has attracted upmarket players, including Bare Escentuals, fragrances from Chanel and Estée Lauder and professional lines from L'Oréal. It also stocks its own private label beauty products.

The store's aim is to offer the service mass retailers lack, and an alternative to the brand-dedicated, commission-based sales approach found in department stores. For the fiscal year ended Feb. 3, Ulta's sales were $755.1 million, up from $579.1 million in the prior year. Last year, it opened 31 new stores and is on track to open about 50 this year, according to an IPO registration filing. Over the next decade, the retailer said it believes that it has the potential to grow to a 1,000-plus-store chain.
— Molly Prior

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