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PARIS — It’s back to the future with Rouge G de Guerlain, the lipstick collection due out April 1 worldwide.
This story first appeared in the February 6, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
A mix of the old and the new, the line’s name was taken from the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned brand’s archives. Its product formula and packaging contain high-tech elements alongside vestiges from the past.
For the project — Guerlain’s third lipstick line — the house’s creative director Olivier Echaudemaison teamed with longtime friend and Place Vendôme jeweler Lorenz Bäumer. Echaudemaison literally lined up lipsticks he found attractive and said, “Now it’s for you to play.”
The idea was to come up with a next-generation product. Bäumer explained the object they made “took a large number of codes from the world of jewelry.” Once Echaudemaison explained an ingredient in the lipstick’s formula is ruby powder, for instance, Bäumer envisioned creating a setting for such a stone.
Bäumer set out like he was making jewelry. He thought of a gold ingot. “But they’re not very sexy,” Bäumer said, recalling he told himself, “I’m going to make a sexy gold ingot” that’s feminine, sensual and agreeable to touch. The form was given a color somewhere between gold and silver.
Bäumer said he wanted to create a beautiful object that held its own. In doing that, he and Echaudemaison kept in mind minaudières, purses from the Thirties in which women kept their makeup. Each generally had a hidden hinge, which is an element in Rogue G packaging. The new product’s wholly metal case that lies on its side also makes a gentle clicking sound when the tube is removed, causing the case to flip open and reveal two mirrors. A high-tech magnet holds the holder’s two parts together.
Also like on a piece of jewelry, the name Guerlain is engraved on the lipstick case.
Laurent Boillot, president and chief executive officer of Guerlain, said the result of the entire package is a new generation of lipstick. “The gesture is new,” he said, adding, “Putting design in the universe of lipstick was never done as we have done it.”
The product formula contains high-tech and more traditional ingredients, too.
“I worked a lot with the LVMH laboratory to find a texture that would be very new,” said Echaudemaison, explaining the result feels light and has a smoothing and long-lasting effect. Ruby powder is intended to interact with ultraviolet rays to increase radiance; concentrated color pigments and liquid mother-of-pearl are included to smooth and even lip surfaces; hyaluronic acid microspheres are said to fill with water on contact with lips, plumping them; gugul resin is said to act as a natural wrinkle-filler for lips; tiger grass and vitamin A palmitate are said to stimulate epidermal cell growth and boost synthesis of collagen fibers, and wild mango butter is intended to help maintain optimum hydration levels.
In the U.S., the collection will be available in about 100 doors, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and select Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom locations, said Linda Maiocco, senior vice president of marketing for Guerlain in the U.S. “We see Rouge G as our aspirational lipstick line, while Kiss Kiss is our affordable luxury,” said Maiocco. Kiss Kiss shades retail for $30 in the U.S., she added.
Advertising for Rouge G, created in house, features Natalia Vodianova and comes in single and double pages. In the U.S., Rouge G will be promoted primarily through the press and in-store events, said Maiocco. The company plans to send 200,000 direct mail pieces to luxury consumers, and will also do limited sampling, which will include a blister card with four shades. Retailer catalogues are also part of the planned mix, said Maiocco.
Rouge G de Guerlain will come in 25 shades, with each lipstick costing 38 euros, or $48.80 at current exchange, in France. In the U.S., each shade will retail for $45.
Guerlain executives would not discuss sales projections, but industry sources estimate the new lipstick line will generate $13 million in wholesale sales in the first six months worldwide. In the U.S., industry sources estimated that Rouge G could do upwards of $3 million at retail in its first year on counter.