Lanc?me’s Latest Faces: Juliette Binoche and Laura Morante

Lanc?me is showing its many faces.

View Slideshow

PARIS — Lancôme is showing its many faces.

This story first appeared in the January 18, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

As reported, the L’Oréal-owned brand announced earlier this week it has signed on actresses Juliette Binoche and Laura Morante to be the ambassadors of its Rénergie and Absolue skin care lines, respectively.

The two franchises are Lancôme’s best-selling in treatment, with each ringing up annual worldwide retail sales of around $440 million, according to industry sources.

“Juliette Binoche is a woman of conviction with a lot of charisma,” said Odile Roujol, president of Lancôme International, who also lauded the actress’ energy. “That’s why we chose her. She’s got quite an awareness worldwide — even in China or Japan — because of ‘The English Patient,’ for which she won an Oscar. She’s very courageous in her choices; Juliette can do blockbusters like ‘Chocolat’ with Johnny Depp” or take part in avant-garde productions.

Roujol calls Morante a highly versatile actress, as well. “Laura is for us very Lancôme and very Absolue,” continued Roujol. “Because Absolue is more about the excellence of skin care for replenishing skin, we wanted someone with a majesty, with the grace of an accomplished woman, who has a lot of experience in life and a lot of serenity.”

Both women personify the “French touch” and have a “natural elegance,” she added.

Morante, for her part, has long been a skin care aficionado. When she was 10 or 11 years old, she found a book in her house. “It was called something like ‘Nature in Beauty’ or ‘Beauty in Nature,'” said Morante. “In it, there were recipes for masks and creams made with vegetables, fruits and eggs. Friends and I made the recipes. I don’t know if the products worked, but it was a very beautiful experience.”

These days, Morante says she takes pleasure in the quiet time afforded while putting on Lancôme facial masks. It’s the same for Binoche, whose beauty regimen includes massaging her face with such masks under a shower each morning.

Binoche, who was also a muse for Lancôme’s Poême fragrance starting in 1995, says the brand’s mission is “to bring women’s energy to the world.”

Indeed, until now, a rose — the symbol of Lancôme — has taken the spotlight along with product in Rénergie and Absolue ads. However, in the brand’s new campaign, which also comprises makeup and was lensed by Nick Knight under the creative direction of Publicis’ 133 division, the brand ambassadors take center stage, too.

The first institutional ad of this series, for Hypnôse Onyx mascara, has already broken in airports, but the other images will appear in European publications as double and single pages in March and in the U.S. press starting in April.

To bring out the character of each brand’s spokeswoman, Knight chose a different location for every shoot. Morante, for instance, was photographed in a stately home in London, whereas Binoche was shot in another site surrounded by Bauhaus architecture, explained 133 Publicis’ general manager Emmanuelle Guillon.

The rose motif remains part of the new campaign, but a different iteration of it appears in every ad.

“Each time there is a different creative interpretation of the rose with color, textures and effects representing the idea of the products,” said Roujol. “We don’t care if it is exactly a real rose. It’s more about playing around with a bigger-than-life idea.”

During the press conference Tuesday to introduce the new Lancôme faces, Roujol unveiled an online project, magnifique-women.com, due to go live in March. She explained the site is meant to help women connect virtually to express and share their local charitable activities through video portraits.

Lancôme began its online presence in 1997 and now has 27 Web sites around the globe.

View Slideshow