Putting together this issue of WWD Beauty Biz, our sixth annual awards issue, was a conundrum. On the one hand, our economy continues its descent into chaos, each day bringing a fresh crisis, each crisis eroding consumer confidence even more. On the other hand, for the beauty industry, this was a year in which innovation eclipsed the insipid. Despite the calamitous nature of the times,there’s still a lot to celebrate and it’s that spirit with which we edited this issue. This was a year, for example, in which class traded over to mass and back again, in which dynamic new technologies ignited once staid categories, in which design fused with popular culture to produce a fragrance frenzy. As always, choosing our winners wasn’t easy. The debate between our editors was vigorous, but, using a set of criteria based on retail performance, industry feedback and our reports throughout the year, we’ve compiled a roster that we think encompasses the best of beauty for 2008. Check “The Winner Is” for full coverage of the WWD Beauty Biz awards.
This issue’s cover subject, Nastia Liukin, is no stranger to being the best. Catapulted into the role of America’s sweetheart after winning the gold medal in the all-around gymnastics competition at last summer’s Beijing Olympics, Liukin has just what it takes to succeed in times like these: a lasersharp ability to focus, a keen competitive spirit and a message that resonates with consumers. Oh—and she’s also able to flip, fly and twist through the air as explosively as a Fourth of July firework, and has the ability to rest her foot in the vicinity of her ear as easily as you or I might cross our legs. Now, the 19-year-old is on a quest to prove her mettle on the marketing front as well as the gymnastics mat, eager to join the ranks of athletes who have transcended their sports to become part of popular culture—think Tiger Woods and Mary Lou Retton. Discover how in “Strength Training.”
The nation’s hair salons are also in a period of transition. Once considered recession-proof, even they have begun to feel the pinch. As Rachel Brown and Andrea Nagel write in “Cutting Room,” “Hair grows and grays regardless of government policy or the unemployment rate.” During the past few months, though, the salon sector has become increasingly susceptible to consumer shifts in spending. Women may not be cutting back on basic services altogether, but they are waiting longer between visits. As history teaches us, the salon slowdown portends change for the beauty category overall. While it’s impossible to anticipate the long-term ramifications, one thing is for sure: WWD Beauty Biz will remain on the cutting edge of covering the news and trends that impact our business most. On behalf of executive editor Pete Born and the entire WWD Beauty Biz team, I’d like to extend congratulations to all of this year’s winners.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast