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Chris de Lapuente, president and chief executive officer of Sephora Global, looked both into the past and into the future Thursday morning in accepting WWD Beauty Inc.’s Visionary Award during the publication’s annual awards ceremony in Manhattan’s Rainbow Room.

“Many years ago, no matter where you shopped, no matter what country you were in, perfumes were sold behind counters guarded by salespeople until an audacious Frenchman named Dominique Mandonnaud in the early Seventies decided to challenge the industry,” said de Lapuente. Due to a calendar conflict, he was speaking via video from Paris. “[Mandonnaud] basically took prestige beauty products from behind counters and gave customers the freedom to move around, to try, to experiment, to explore. This was totally disruptive in its day,” de Lapuente said.

Then it took another visionary, Bernard Arnault, chairman and ceo of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, to buy what was still a small French perfumery chain in 1997 and turn it into the first global brick-and-mortar beauty retail chain.

De Lapuente’s ambition is to evolve the specialty chain and stretch the boundaries of typical retail thought.

“We aspire to make Sephora the most loved beauty community in the whole world by offering the most amazing prestige beauty selection of products in a stimulating environment where you can teach, inspire and play with beauty together.”

Another highlight came when makeup artist Pat McGrath, who won the Prestige Launch of the Year award, walked back to her table amid the roar of sustained applause from the audience. Waiting at her table was her friend, Naomi Campbell, who later took selfies with people in the crowd.

Before awards were distributed, Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president and group head of market insights for MasterCard Advisors, gave a presentation that showed insight into consumer spending this year and how brand marketing should reflect consumer behavior.

“Seventy-five percent of transactions are made by women,” she said. “We have to be marketing to her and understanding what her daily life is. The reality is that she works all the time, so time is her most valuable option. She’s spending, but she’s spending at half the number of places she used to spend at prior to the recession…because she doesn’t have time.”

When analyzing holiday shopping, Quinlan discredited the perception that online shopping is overshadowing in-store shopping, stating that for the month of November in the U.S., the entire share of online sales was only 8.6 percent.

“We did see people buy online [for holiday shopping], but we also saw an increase in-store because we still like the experience of being social with each other,” she continued. “Eighty-five percent of people use a mobile device while they’re shopping, but actual buying takes place in-store.”

As for the award recipients, here is a full list of the winners:

Product of the Year, Prestige: La Mer Skincolor de la Mer (makeup), SK-II R.N.A. Power Essence (skin care), The Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer (hair care), Charlotte Tilbury Scent of a Dream (fragrance)

Product of the Year, Mass: CoverGirl Katy Kat Collection (makeup), L’Oréal Paris Pure-Clay Mask Collection (skin care), Tresemmé Beauty-Full Volume Reverse System (hair care)

Digital Innovator of the Year: Huda Kattan of Huda Beauty (Prestige), NYX (mass), Tarte Cosmetics (specialty)

Ad Campaign of the Year: Kenzo World (prestige), Shea Moisture’s #BreakTheWall campaign (mass)

Launch of the Year: Pat McGrath Labs (prestige), Neutrogena Acne Light Therapy Mask (mass)

Brand of the Year: Urban Decay (prestige), Garnier (mass)

Beauty Newsmaker: Marc Rey, president and chief executive officer of Shiseido Americas, and Jane Hertzmark Hudis, group president of The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.

Disruptor of the Year: Grace Choi, founder of Mink

Brand Builder: Kilian Hennessy, founder of By Kilian (prestige), Evelyn Wang, senior vice president of marketing of Wet-n-Wild (mass)

Creative Influencer of the Year: Jen Atkin

Indie of the Year: Kylie Cosmetics

Newcomer of the Year: Milk Makeup (prestige), Lyle Tick, managing director of Boots Retail USA. (mass)

Corporate Social Responsibility: L’Oréal USA for Women in Science

Visionary Award: Sephora

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