By  on January 18, 2008

Guerlain is eyeing a supercharged color cosmetics business in the U.S. with the launch of a high-tech mascara in March.

The mascara, dubbed Le 2 de Guerlain, is the brand's first two-brush mascara, which will be powered by space-age polymers.

"Le 2 de Guerlain is a completely new concept in the mascara world," said Olivier Echaudemaison, Guerlain's creative director. "It will allow Guerlain to become a major player in the cosmetics business as we are in the fragrance business. We are already great in lipstick with Kiss Kiss and first in sun powder with Terracotta."

Linda Maiocco, vice president of marketing for Guerlain, added, "Over the past several years we have been examining and upgrading each of our beauty categories, in an effort to create the ultimate luxury brand. Skin care was first with Orchidée Impériale [launched in 2005]. For color, our Kiss Kiss lipstick [launched in 2005] led off the makeup effort — but in order to have a strong color business, you have to have a strong eye business. We believe Le 2 will deliver that."

Le 2's two-ended brush is molded of a single piece of flexible material. A larger brush at one side is designed for the top lashes, while the second brush is smaller and angled at seven degrees to reach into the corners of the eyes and to coat lower lashes without smudging. Both brushes are shorter than traditional mascara brushes, allowing for greater control, said Maiocco.

The formula — developed with the input of makeup artists and research and development specialists — replaces the traditional waxes used in mascara with two polymers. One polymer, traditionally used in surgical adhesives, sets and holds lashes; a second polymer creates volume and length without clumping, said Maiocco.

Le 2's architectural packaging — an angled gold-tone sphere with the Guerlain name etched in a delicate script — was the brainchild of Danish designer Helle Damkjaer, who said her aim was to create luxurious, yet highly contemporary packaging.

The mascara will be available in four colors — black, brown, blue and violet — each retailing for $35.

Le 2 will be available in March in some 300 specialty store doors, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Sephora. It will launch globally in April. National advertising is not planned, although Guerlain will partner with retailers to do catalogue and store advertising, said Maiocco. Visual weeks are planned for Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, she added.While Maiocco declined to discuss sales figures, industry sources estimated that Le 2 would do about $3 million at retail in its first year on counter in the U.S.

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