By and  on December 3, 2004

NEW YORK — Gucci Westman, international creative director at Lancôme, has created her first cosmetics color story for the brand by putting the girly back into glamour.

It’s meant to be in step with fashion, Westman said — observing that “we’re definitely heading toward celebrating being women. [Look] how feminine the clothes are, the tweeds and the curves and the skirts. It’s a lot more fun to dress up and exciting to be a girl.

“Personally, I’ve never worn this much makeup,” she continued. “But now I’m just so excited to get dolled up, lately. And for a makeup artist, that’s really not that common. Typically, before, I would just wear a little black eyeliner and that’s it.”

In fact, there’s a swing in popular mood toward looking and feeling pretty, Westman added. “[The trend is] to be beautiful, to just be pretty — beautiful clothes, pretty beautiful makeup. I love feeling pretty, and when women feel pretty, I think it’s the best feeling — we’re lucky we are allowed to express ourselves. Boys have electronics and we have makeup.”

With a little help from her pal, Drew Barrymore, who appears in the ad for the collection, Westman has put together a palette that recalls star-studded days on the beaches of Saint Tropez in the Sixties. Some of the colors are bold and vibrant, such as Mediterranean greens and blues. But the collection, called Spring 2005 in French Riviera, is designed to be mixed and matched, allowing consumers to produce fresh, subtle tones dripping with femininity.

The collection will appear on counter throughout Lancôme’s U.S. department store distribution of 2,200 doors from mid-to-late January. In Europe and elsewhere, the collection will make its debut in February. And Lancôme and its L’Oréal parent have high hopes for this launch. Although executives declined to break out sales targets, industry sources estimate that this collection could do as much as $10 million at retail during the spring season, which is significantly more than the brand’s last seasonal target.

For her part, Westman frames the project in artistic terms. “I was inspired by artists like Chagall and Degas, and Georgia O’Keeffe — just in the way to mix bold colors, like very vivid colors either subtly or boldly,” she said. “They are very true to what you see, if you look at this color and then you put it on your hand, it’s what you get.“They are bold [colors] but you can use them in a fashion,” she continued. “They can be very subtle, but you have options. Depending on [your] personality, you can either go all the way or just have a beautiful bronzy-brown and add a little bit of blue or a little bit of green. It’s not your regular brown.”

The what-you-see-is-what-you-get strategy is echoed on the packaging of five compacts. Instead of the solid black look usually offered, the colors of the products inside are displayed on the outer lid — a first for Lancôme.

The outer decoration is included on five quad compacts — two containing eye shadows, one of lip color and one with a combination of eye and lip shades — priced at $37 apiece. The collection also includes creamy blush, loose powders with shimmering highlights, metallic loose eye powders, a French manicure kit featuring silver tips instead of white, and baby pink moisturizing lip balm.

The debut of Westman’s first color collection for Lancôme is high in significance, since she is only the second creative director Lancôme has had. The first was Fred Farrugia, who created a series of groundbreaking collections that produced many notable products that sold well enough to become permanent fixtures in the lineup. The most famous was the top-selling Juicy Tubes lip gloss, which not only set sales records but also caught the eye of younger customers — a top brand priority. Another winner to emerge from Farrugia’s tenure of 13 seasonal color collections was Transparence de Teint foundation. When Farrugia’s departure was announced last December, Marc Dubrule, managing director of Lancôme International, issued a statement that said: “We have come to the end of a cycle that has seen the rebirth of Lancôme makeup under the magical fingertips of Fred Farrugia, and international development in the image of boldness, trendiness and constant innovation.”

Now, executives at parent L’Oréal are ready to adjust course. Westman is also a celebrated makeup artist who has worked in the fashion, film and magazine worlds with the likes of Bruce Weber, Spike Jonze, Steven Meisel, Mario Testino and Annie Leibovitz. She is seen as an exponent of the softer side of femininity — underscored by the fact that she is a woman.“Fred was really a great kind of makeup artist to say, ‘Lancôme can be unconventional, Lancôme can dare, Lancôme can be very creative,’” said Marie Cesbron, assistant vice president of makeup marketing at Lancôme.

“Gucci is saying, ‘Lancôme can be very feminine, it can be very pretty, with strong universal appeal’ and very much on trend, she’s very visionary on what type of beauty women are looking for. This whole type of Brigitte Bardot thing is so hot right now, and she envisioned it more than a year ago — and it’s now that you start seeing French Riviera references and Brigitte Bardot. She’s very intimate with women and we wanted to express this intimacy, because it’s important for Lancôme, which is a very approachable brand.”

Cesbron noted that the color story will be launched in a different way, with a major emphasis on in-store makeup artistry events, because “Gucci is new to the Lancôme family.” The strategy will be to communicate to consumers the Gucci doctrine: “You have to play with makeup, you have to combine colors, you have to customize your look, you have to express yourself with makeup.’ We have to have makeup artists out there, showing women how to play with this collection, getting across all the tips and inspiration that Gucci had. It’s about proximity. We really wanted to create this proximity with the one-on-one contact.”

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