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Deborah Lippmann Creates Polishes for Sephora

The indie brand is heralding its entry to Sephora's doors this September with an exclusive collection for the retailer.

The Sephora-exclusive colors created by Deborah Lippmann.

Deborah Lippmann is heralding her entry to Sephora doors this September with an exclusive collection of nail polishes for the retailer.

This story first appeared in the August 2, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“A lot of people think I’m already in Sephora, since it’s the place to shop for indie brands,” Lippmann said in an interview from the set of a fashion shoot in the Hamptons. “But given Sephora’s reach, we wanted to prepare adequately to enter Sephora, to be able to fulfill orders properly and keep up with reorders. That required reaching a proper size and having a fair amount of visibility before entering such a big retailer.” The indie brand — founded in 1999 by Lippmann, her husband, Jude Severin and her brother, Mark Lippmann — felt it had reached that point about a year ago, which is when it entered into discussions with Sephora about the brand.

Lippmann’s products — nail polishes and treatment items — will go into Sephora’s full U.S. and Canadian distribution, as well as sephora.com.

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Currently, Lippmann’s nail lineup, Lippmann Collection, is sold at Neiman Marcus, Barneys New York and Nordstrom.

“Nail continues to be a focus for us as a category,” said Margarita Arriagada, chief merchant for Sephora, calling Lippmann a “nail visionary.”

“There is amazing innovation in the industry and it’s a compelling play on beauty and expression,” Arriagada said.

The four exclusive nail polishes for Sephora are 99 Luftballons, a sparkle-heavy fuchsia; Chasing Pavements, a soft cream gray; She-Bop, a flirty pink cream, and Lilac Wine, a lilac cream. They will launch on sephora.com in August and then move into brick-and-mortar stores in September. The cream shades will retail for $17 each, while 99 Luftballons will sell for $19.

While many beauty brands saw a dip in sales when the Great Recession hit, Lippmann noted that her results were much the opposite. “When the recession hit, that was when I went really glittery,” said Lippmann, naming her top-two selling colors, Happy Birthday and Candy Shop. “It was a departure for me, and seemed to hit a chord with women, which I didn’t expect. It was as if they couldn’t afford a new dress, but they could make a $19 splurge on a bottle of sparkly nail polish.”

Numerous sparkly shades have followed Happy Birthday — a glitter-heavy polish in a pale base which Lippmann calls “a party in a bottle” — and Candy Shop, a glittery cotton-candy pink. In fact, Lippmann noted that Sephora was keen to have exclusive shades based on these two bestsellers, which led to the creation of She-Bop, which Lippmann calls “a slightly more adult” Candy Shop, and 99 Luftballons, both named for the Eighties songs. In fact, all of Lippmann’s polishes are named for songs, a natural for someone who moonlights as a singer when she’s not working on photo shoots and runway shows.

While Lippmann and Arriagada both refused to discuss sales projections, industry sources estimated that the Deborah Lippmann line would generate retail sales between $6 million and $8 million in its first year at Sephora.

“The Deborah Lippmann collection will be announced to our Sephora fans and followers via e-mail, our social channels, Beauty Insider as well as a featured sephora.com dedicated brand page,” said Arriagada. “To celebrate the launch, Deborah will host a live chat on Sephora Beauty Talk for our clients and her fans. And in select Sephora stores at our Nail Studio play stations, clients will be able to watch a video and create their own Deborah Lippmann look.”

While the Sephora launch will be primarily nail-focused, Lippmann is headed into Neiman’s with a seven-color lipstick collection. Lippmann briefly dabbled in lip last year with limited-edition Lip & Nail Duets. The new offerings combine the creamy texture of a lipstick and the high shine of a gloss, and all are buildable sheers. They are Love, a nude; I’m Every Woman, a nude-mauve; She Bangs, a classic red; Call Me Maybe, a coral; Under a Spell, a berry; Drops of Brandy, a bronzed berry, and Let’s Do It, a pomegranate red. Each will retail for $22.