As I was making my way through Interwoven Globe, a fascinating exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that covers the worldwide textile trade from 1500 to 1800, I was immediately reminded of this issue’s cover subject, Laurent Attal, the executive vice president of research and innovation at L’Oréal. The show is a beautiful examination, through richly embroidered and decorated fabrics, of the cross-pollination of ideas between Europe, Asia and the Americas, demonstrating how themes, motifs, materials and ideas travel beyond borders. It is a concept with which Attal is intimately familiar. His domain is vast—L’Oréal has research facilities all over the world—and since being appointed to his post in 2010 by chief executive officer Jean-Paul Agon, Attal has expertly interwoven and transferred ideas, innovations and breakthroughs from one area of the globe to another. He recently invited WWD’s executive editor of beauty, Pete Born, to spend two days with him touring L’Oréal’s facilities located just outside of Paris. In addition to this rare glimpse inside the company’s state-of-the-art laboratories, Attal shared his strategic vision for how L’Oréal is evolving its approach to science and innovation. As Born writes in “Doctor of the Universe,” “Clearly, the ‘hope in a jar’ school of marketing hype of decades past is dead; the future will be fought in the lab.”
This issue, WWD Beauty Inc’s third-annual Science Issue, explores that idea in depth. In “The Innovation Exchange,” I asked leaders from five different sectors of the industry—marketing, research, supply, retail and editorial—how they see the skin-care sector evolving in an era that is absolutely transformational for the category. Meanwhile, in “The Unstoppable Entrepreneur,” Gail Federici analyzes the myriad factors that have led to her incredible—and continuing—success in hair care.
Of course, the digital revolution continues to exert a profound influence on beauty. Most recently, we are seeing a new class of influencers emerge on YouTube, personalities who are quickly becoming the voice of beauty authority for Millennials. In “Screen Grab,” our West Coast–based beauty editor, Rachel Brown, presents a compelling overview of the YouTube ecosystem, including a comprehensive list of the channel’s rising stars in four key global markets. Many have fan bases that number in the millions, and while some of the names may be new to mainstream marketers, no doubt Attal and his colleagues are tuned in to this—and all—of the changing dynamics of the beauty industry.
“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