How Lancome’s gucci westman creates an overnight color sensation—complete with a mile-long waiting list—season after season.
In the spring of 2006, Lancôme’s international artistic director, Gucci Westman, created a red lipstick for Behnaz Sarafpour’s fall collection. The color, which was marketed as a limited edition shade in the fall of that year, sold out before it could even hit counters and created a frenzy among bloggers, beauty mavens and fashionistas alike. The $21 lipstick turned up on eBay in the days that followed priced at $103.50. And thus the brand’s Pout-à-Porter project was born.
One year and two more similarly successful shades later, Lancôme and Westman are hard at work on their fourth color, this time for the hot young designer Thakoon Panichgul. Three days before Panichgul’s spring 2008 show, Westman and the designer conducted a makeup test to decide on the color. “I’ve always loved lipstick that you can throw on,” says Panichgul. “Like you’re done surfing and you just want to put on a little bit of color.”
Working with the show’s theme of “a Japanese girl who goes to Hawaii,” Westman decided on a fuchsia stain to highlight the fresh-from-the-beach glow she planned on giving the models. She mixed together three creamy textured colors: beige, beige-colored rose and a bright, blue-based fuchsia. “It’s the sheerest color we’ve done yet for the project,” says Westman, “but it’s perfect for Thakoon. His girl is about minimal makeup.”
After the show was over, samples of the three hues were sent to Lancôme’s shade development labs in New Jersey. A prototype was created and sent to both Westman and Panichgul for approval. Both agreed that the initial sample was too fuchsia and pearlescent, so two more samples were created, one of which was instantaneously agreed upon (see the sample above). Two thousand of the as-yet-unnamed color will now go into production as a Color Fever Shine lipstick, set to hit counters in February for $24 each. If past performance is any indication, they won’t be there long—waiting lists for the lipstick are now de rigueur.
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