Editor’s Letter: Current Events

Discover how John Demsey has leveraged his cultural connectivity to drive the businesses of some of the most storied names in beauty.

John Demsey and Nicki Minaj sitting front-row at Prabal Gurung’s show.
Appeared In
Special Issue
Beauty Inc issue 11/11/2011

Not every beauty executive would relish being compared to a teenager, but Estée Lauder group president John Demsey takes it for the compliment it is. Demsey is a voracious consumer of pop culture, with an astonishing feel for who (and what) is hip, hot and happening in the worlds of music, movies, celebrity, style, art, fashion and photography. In his stewardship of brands like MAC and Estée Lauder, he has proven himself equally adept at translating that knowledge directly into sales. Spend any time with him, and what becomes immediately clear is that Demsey is a man in perpetual motion, who is equally as comfortable crunching numbers with the chief executive officer of Saks Fifth Avenue as he is whispering conspiratorially with pop star Nicki Minaj as he leads her to a front-row seat at a fashion show.

This story first appeared in the November 11, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.


“If anyone else looked at my schedule, they would think, Why on earth is he doing those things?” Demsey told me during a recent long-ranging interview in his New York City office.


For the answer, one need look no further than the numbers. MAC, for example, which industry sources estimate had a wholesale volume of $140 million when Demsey took it over in 1998, is today estimated to have a global wholesale volume of more than $1.5 billion. Discover how Demsey has leveraged his cultural connectivity to drive the businesses of some of the most storied names in beauty in “The Plugged-in World of John Demsey.”

Brands like Range Rover, Grolsch and Converse also know that there’s a direct link between style and substance. They’re at the forefront of companies whose branded entertainment strategies are redefining the term performance art. From producing movies (whose plotlines can be decided by viewers) to operating a recording studio for up-and-coming bands, these companies are evolving the model from one of sponsorship to content creation. London-based writer Steve Mullins found some of the most compelling examples for “Beauty Marketing as a Performance Art.”

Elsewhere in this, our first Style issue, we have an in-depth interview with Coty Prestige president Michele Scannavini. The avid music lover and former Ferrari executive has brought both qualities to bear as he works in tandem with Coty chief executive officer Bernd Beetz to take the company from a fragrance powerhouse into a full-fledged beauty behemoth, as you’ll read in “Master Class.” We’ve also put a new spin on our coverage of the major hair and makeup trends to emerge from the spring 2012 runways, asking the creators themselves what they consider the season’s most important directions. I hope you’ll agree that their answers, in “Spring Beauty Trends: The Creative Class” are as varied as they are fascinating, and bode well for the season ahead.


Drop me a line at jenny_fine@condenast.com and let me know.