PARIS — The Helena Rubinstein beauty brand has a renaissance in the making, in the view of executives at its parent, L'Oréal.
As reported, Rubinstein has signed American actress Demi Moore to be the "muse" — or spokeswoman — of all its products. Designer Fabien Baron is in the midst of renovating the brand's packaging. And its new merchandising units, called "beauty boudoirs" and designed by Andrée Putman, are being rolled out internationally.
"We're positioning Helena Rubinstein as a real luxury brand," said Simona Cattaneo, the recently named international general manager of Helena Rubinstein, in a phone interview Thursday from London, where she was involved in Moore's photo shoot by photographers Mert and Marcus. "We're working on it 360 degrees — for the image, with Demi Moore, and at the same time, we're also focusing on the marketing mix."
Cattaneo replaced Catherine Fulconis as international general manager in September. Prior to working at Helena Rubinstein, Cattano was the international general manager of Kerastase, another L'Oréal-owned brand that she joined in 1995.
Helena Rubinstein's revamp was begun a few months ago, according to Patricia Turck Pacquelier, international brand president of L'Oréal's prestige and collections division.
"For a long time, it was managed as a second Lancôme, which it is not," she said, referring to another high-end beauty brand owned by L'Oréal. "Lancôme is huge and international."
Instead, Turck Pacquelier chose to emphasize Helena Rubinstein's premium positioning, particularly since luxury beauty products are flying off shelves worldwide these days.
Turck Pacquelier said she and the team at Helena Rubinstein looked through their microscopes at what they call the brand's DNA, at how ahead of her time was the brand's founder who pioneered the art of advising customers on beauty. Given people's increasing longevity, Rubinstein executives decided to center the brand on the 40-plus demographic.
"But we saw something was missing: We had to give Helena Rubinstein a face," said Turck Pacquelier. "Demi was a perfect match. She's not 20 or 30 — she's 43. She's always avant-garde and daring as a woman. Demi is extremely glamorous and charismatic."
This is the first time Helena Rubinstein has had an actress as its spokeswoman. And she happens to be an American.Could this signal the brand's return to the U.S., a market that Helena Rubinstein left about 18 months ago?
"Not immediately," said Turck Pacquelier, who explained that growth in premium beauty brand sales in the U.S. has been accelerating nevertheless.
Helena Rubinstein's strongest markets are Italy and Japan, followed by France, Spain and travel retail.
In China, the brand's yearly sales have spiked 35 percent and more, said Turck Pacquelier, who added that Russia has been "an amazing success."
While L'Oréal executives would not discuss Helena Rubinstein's sales, industry sources estimated the brand ranks 10th worldwide in the skin care and makeup categories combined.
Next year, Helena Rubinstein will focus on launching "expertise" products, each with one main claim. The brand is also set to launch a new whitening collection for Japan.
Price positioning for the brand is expected to be in the 100 euro range, or $125 at current exchange, for the expertise products. Other new items should run between 120 euros and 250 euros, or $150 and $314.
“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
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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