Christmas Comes Early in London

LONDON —
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Actors Jim Carrey, Colin Firth and Bob Hoskins kicked off the holiday selling season here Tuesday, when they switched on “A Christmas Carol”-themed festive lighting around the city, including on Oxford and Regent streets.

Retailers on Oxford Street, one of the city’s busiest shopping thoroughfares, are apparently looking to encourage early yuletide bustle with a plethora of offers to entice shoppers into stores.

On Tuesday, gift sets, many making their value-for-money message explicit with stickers, were on prominent display in a number of department stores. Health and beauty retailers Boots and Superdrug were offering multiple purchase deals on beauty products.

A stand offering an Elle Macpherson The Body gift set and handbag marked down to 26 pounds, or $43 at current exchange, from 40 pounds, or $66.23, greeted shoppers entering a large Boots store on Oxford Street. A display of Clinique gift sets also made money savings a key selling point, with an Aromatics Elixir coffret priced at 58 pounds, or $96. Promotional materials indicated the set has a value of 79.13 pounds, or $131, for instance.

Similarly, at a Lancôme counter, a Magnifique gift set was priced at 30.50 pounds, or $50.50, which apparently represents a savings of 17.50 pounds, or $29. In an area dedicated to fragrance gift sets, prices — which for the most part were rounded pound figures — were indicated on shelves using large red cards.

At the scent counter, a display promoted savings of up to 50 percent on selected fine fragrances. There, a bottle of Cacharel Noa was on sale for 12.92 pounds, or $21.43, and YSL Baby Doll for 35.70 pounds, or $59.

At Debenhams, value for money seemed also to be a key selling point. A display for an Elemis Exotic Treats gift set, for instance, indicated the coffret, priced at 25 pounds, or $41.50, represented a savings of 6 pounds, or $9.95, on its actual value. At the Estée Lauder counter, display materials for a Make-Up Artist Professional Color Collection set, which was available for 49 pounds, or $81.13, once a customer bought a Lauder fragrance, indicated the kit was worth more than 312 pounds, or $516.63.

The store also had a significant collection of fragrance gift sets, including ones for Davidoff Hot Water and Paco Rabanne 1 Million. A selection of scents were apparently on sale — a 100-ml. bottle of Mariah Carey’s Luscious Pink, for instance, carried a sticker marked “now 30 pounds” or $49.68, though an original price was not on view. Fragrances by Britney Spears, Hilary Duff and Usher had similar stickers.

Space was also given over to gift sets at House of Fraser. At the Shiseido counter, The Skincare Collection coffret was priced at 40 pounds, or $66.30. A savings of 20.10 pounds, or $33.33, was made apparent by promotional materials. Displays of fragrance sets were dotted around the beauty floor, which included products by Marc Jacobs and Versace. In the store’s fragrance area, a large display was dedicated to Issey Miyake, Jean Paul Gaultier and Narciso Rodriguez sets. Coffret prices were also clearly indicated at John Lewis, where sets were displayed on shelving units. These included ones for Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb for 75 pounds, or $124.20; Thierry Mugler’s Angel for 86 pounds, or $142.40, and Vera Wang Princess for 45 pounds, or $74.57.

At The Perfume Shop, value was front and center. The store’s window display included a number of fragrances at knock-down prices. A 100-ml. Burberry Touch eau de parfum spray, for instance, was advertised for 27.99 pounds, or $46.35, while its recommended retail price was flagged as being 57 pounds, or $94.40. A 100-ml. flacon of Eternity Moment was priced at 19.99 pounds, or $33.10, while the store said its recommended retail price was 54.81 pounds, or $90.76.

In a Superdrug store on Charing Cross Road, which connects to Oxford Street, special offers were also on display. Gifts-with-purchase, including a necklace for Sarah Jessica Parker fragrances and a bag with Nina Ricci’s Ricci Ricci scent, were labeled with shelf signage. Signs by the fragrance counter indicated savings of up to 60 percent, while other offers around the store included buy one L’Oréal Paris product and get a second for half price. There was also a three-for-two offer on gift sets from brands including Nivea and Adidas.

Shopping on Oxford Street was recently given a boost when the Oxford Circus intersection was redesigned in the image of Tokyo’s Shibuya crossing. The move, meant to ease pedestrian congestion in the area, also means 1,640 feet of Oxford Street and connecting Regent Street are being redesigned with wider pavements and new lighting.

— Brid Costello, with contributions by Hardeep Chohan


Neon Takes the Lead

Although spring is a long way off, beauty brands are offering Eighties-inspired bright pops of fuchsias, pinks and corals for an optimistic take on balmier times ahead, and a definitive break from this fall’s neutrals.

Standouts in the lip category include a juicy pink lip gloss in a shade, called Easy Lover, from Nars and two pigmented neon hues from Smashbox’s spring Heartbreaker collection.

“I think people are looking for a more colorful palette when coming out of the winter season,” said Christina Klamser, director of global brand marketing for Smashbox. “This high-energy collection includes vivid shades of eye shadow, cheek color and punchy shades of lip gloss that are reminiscent of the Eighties. We wanted bright pops of color that are still wearable.”

In February, Lancôme will introduce L’Absolu Rouge lipstick in Chris and Tell, an upbeat shade developed in collaboration with fashion designer Chris Benz for his spring collection. “There’s a lot of optimism in the air for spring,” said Gracemarie Papaleo, assistant vice president for Lancôme’s new product development.

“We were thrilled because the coral-peach color is on trend with our spring collection, which is all about peachy-orange tones for lips and cheeks,” she continued. “Chris’s spring 2010 collection is all sorbet color with feathers, sequins and polka dots. It doesn’t get more optimistic than that.” The shade name was chosen from a Chris Benz fan who won a Facebook contest.

In January, Buxom, a division of Bare Escentuals, will offer Buxom Big & Healthy Balms, mineral-infused tubs of gloss, topped with colorful printed caps.

“We decided to include bright, wet, sheer glazes of color in the lineup to capture the refreshing spirit of the balms and the beaches they’re named after,” said Sylvie Rouaix, vice president of product development and new business. “The balms provide the same look and plumping power you expect from Buxom with the deep moisturizing and conditioning benefits of a balm.”

Tarte’s newest lip offering, Natural Lip Stain, available in January comes in a spirited shade of magenta.

“For Spring 2010, I thought nothing can lift your spirit and convey confidence like bright color,” said celebrity makeup artist and Tarte collaborator Tina Turnbow. “It’s the message of color, especially from nature. It’s about what it can do for your soul [and] how it can help express a feeling or mood. The bright pink has the same uplifting effect and reminds me of looking at wild flowers in the sunshine.”

On the spring face and nail front, hues were equally bright, with variations on juicy orange tones and bold shades of pinks.

In February, artistry makeup brand Mehron will unveil creamy cheek colors, previewed at Miami’s Rock Fashion Week. “The new Cheek Cream colors for spring were inspired by Eighties fashion and trends, said Stephanie Ferreira, marketing director. “Mehron is all about extreme beauty makeup and neon definitely fits that category.We wanted to bring neon brights to women of all skin tones. Tech-Orange looks amazing on darker skin tones while the Pink Coral looks fabulous on fair cheeks.”

Come January, MAC Cosmetics will launch MAC in Lillyland, a Lilly Pulitzer-inspired collection, featuring a creamy cheek concoction in shocking pink.

“It is fresh and young; vibrant, but not garish,” said Nicole Masson, vice president for MAC global product development. “The collection references all the colors associated with Lilly Pulitzer, Palm Beach, southern Florida and resort. Oranges and corals are very important to get the look.”

Nail tips will also be shining with fresh-picked colors ripe as summer fruit. Anna Sui will introduce celebratory-themed colors in January, while OPI’s Hong Kong collection will include a vibrant shade, called A Good Man-darin Is Hard to Find.

Anna Sui’s polishes in Passion Pink and Sunny Orange are themed after the feel of a retro circus. The shades were designed to convey a feeling of being “cute” with a dash “rock ’n’ roll,” said Haruka Kobayashi, marketing manager for Anna Sui Cosmetics.

“A Good Man-darin Is Hard to Find adds a burst of energy and cutting-edge style,” said Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, vice president and artistic director. “We designed this color to complement the strong, sexy fashions seen on the spring 2010 runways,” she continued. “Combined with this season’s body-skimming lines and textured leathers and metallics, it makes a statement that is very ‘right now.’”

-Belisa Silva

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