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Lauder, Michael Kors Develop Color Cosmetics Line

Very Hollywood color cosmetics collection will hit Estée Lauder’s top 1,000 U.S. doors in January.

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Michael Kors has gone Hollywood — again.

This story first appeared in the October 30, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The designer and “Project Runway” judge has collaborated on a Very Hollywood color cosmetics collection with the Estée Lauder brand that treads on the Tinseltown turf he mined for the Very Hollywood fragrance launched in September under the Aramis and Designer Fragrances division of the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. The color collection will hit Estée Lauder’s top 1,000 U.S. doors in January shortly before entering 3,000 international doors.

“I’m very Hollywood in modern terms,” said Kors, sitting in his Beverly Hills store with passers-by shooting pictures through the windows. “I don’t think I am old-fashioned Hollywood glamour. I am definitely not Cary Grant. I am still very low-key. When I run into Ellen Pompeo and her husband at the Beverly Hills Hotel, we are in flip-flops eating grilled cheese.”

For his first foray into color cosmetics, Kors delved into beauty territory familiar for fans of his runway looks: honing a sporty glow that highlights healthy skin and steers clear of heavy makeup. He stressed that the collection, which concentrates on beige, coral, pink and shimmer, evokes Hollywood in the relaxed Lauren Hutton manner distinguished by equal ease in front of cameras and at the beach.

“I am every bit as intrigued by seeing Reese [Witherspoon] with her kids or Angelina [Jolie] with her groceries looking great as I am seeing them on the red carpet,” said Kors. “When you put this makeup on, suddenly you feel attainable glamour. You walk into the office, and no one would say, ‘Is that a new lipstick?’ You look glamorous without looking painted. That would be your Hollywood moment.”

Aerin Lauder, senior vice president and creative director for Estée Lauder, pronounced Michael Kors a good fit for the brand because the two brands share a classic, feminine sensibility. “The Estée Lauder customer is very much the Michael Kors customer: someone who wants a wonderful product, someone who understands fashion, someone who understands luxury, someone who wants quality,” she said.

Kors is the second designer Estée Lauder has partnered with on color collections. The brand enlisted Tom Ford for two collections: Youth Dew Amber Nude in fall 2005 and Azurée in summer 2006. The constant in all the designer-affiliated collections is “the concept of pretty and wearable,” according to Lauder.

Kors’ approach to the collection is set apart by his desire for sheerness, even in the lipsticks, which are called sheens. “That’s something that was really new for Estée Lauder,” said Lauder. “It is an interesting way for us to look at color. In the past, we have done thicker, more opaque colors on the lip.”

In total, the Very Hollywood color collection has 19 pieces packaged in beige with gold accents and coral outer cartons. There are two color families — Bel Air Beige and Rodeo Pink — each with two $22 lip sheens with SPF 15, two $20 lip glosses, one $26 blush, one $30 eye shadow duo, one $19 eye pencil and one $18 nail lacquer. Bel Air Beige’s palette is of beige and coral, while Rodeo Pink flirts with vibrant pink hues.

There are three complementary products that Lauder considers standouts of the collection: $32 shimmering loose powder, $22 lip sheen in a subtle pink shade with gold flecks dubbed Hollywood Gold and $20 lip gloss in Hollywood Gold. She compared these products with a great camel coat or black dress in a Michael Kors collection that she described as “the bare essentials that you need.”

Print advertising and online promotions are planned for the Very Hollywood color collection with the central image featuring Hilary Rhoda in a gold Michael Kors gown shot by Craig McDean. Print ads are expected to break in January and February in selected fashion, beauty, lifestyle and entertainment magazines. The Very Hollywood collection online activity includes a digital “boutique” on Estée Lauder’s Web site and videos such as one with an interview of Lauder and Kors.

Lauder and Kors explained Rhoda was chosen because she is recognizable as an Estée Lauder spokeswoman and exemplifies Kors’ aesthetic with her “all-American girl” appearance, but has widespread global appeal as well. “She was approachable, but yet beautiful and that was a fine balance,” said Lauder. “She has been very successful for us.”

While Estée Lauder executives declined to discuss sales projections for the Very Hollywood color collection, industry sources estimated the collection would generate $12.5 million at retail during its three- to four-month run. If it wins over consumers, Lauder and Kors indicated they would be up for a sophomore effort. “This is a great first step in a collaboration with a designer like Michael Kors,” said Lauder. “Michael’s vision and Michael’s fantasy is so perfect for a color story because it just keeps going.”

Kors already has a product wish list for an upcoming collection that includes bronzer and liquid eyeliner. “On the right woman and done in the right way, I love liquid eyeliner,” said Kors. “I would love to do a modern Sophia Loren. That’s something that would be intriguing — to find a way women wouldn’t be afraid of it and could manage to do it themselves.”

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