“The beauty story of black women in this country is incredibly complicated,” said Desirée Rogers, chief executive officer of Johnson Publishing.
“The concept of black beauty has been widely discussed within the African-American community for years and represents a window into the socio-philosophical dynamic debate caused by years of oppression and self-hate,” continued Rogers, adding that the evolutionary self-appreciation time line of black women has been closely associated with others’ perceptions. “Images depicting black women as mammies ultimately started to change with the ascension of caramel beauties like Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge,” said Rogers. “At the same time that things were beginning to change in Hollywood, Negroes, yes I said Negroes, were entering the middle class in record numbers.”
Rogers showed a 1953 film which purported to tell marketers how to talk to “millions of new prospects with $15 billion to spend…the new Negro family.” The film goes on to say that “the secret of selling to the Negro is expressed in one word; that word is recognition…most Negroes buy by brand. They’re quick to turn down off brands.…Symbols of quality and prestige are very important to the Negro customer…because he’s had experience with cheap merchandise, the Negro resents being offered a substitute.”
“This quick snapshot gives us a sense of how simple transactions conjure up cultural and philosophical attitudes of the African-American consumer,” said Rogers. “Many of the underlying themes that you saw in the film still exist today…although the African-American market currently is close to $1 trillion.”
Rogers noted that the Seventies marked a watershed moment for black women. “The Seventies were all about ‘Black Is Beautiful’ and in Chicago, John and Eunice Johnson of Johnson Publishing created Fashion Fair Cosmetics, a prestige brand for black women,” she said. “The brand was born from Mrs. Johnson’s Ebony Fashion Fair Show, a show launched in the Fifties. She wanted to celebrate fashion, style and beauty as seen through the eyes of black women.” The show traveled to 150 cities each year and raised $55 million for local charities, she added.
While in the Seventies black women were beginning to celebrate their beauty, in the Eighties and Nineties a more conformist view took hold, she said. “Today, it is truly a brand new world,” she said. “Black women are inspired by whoever captures their hearts, unfettered by social norms and judgments of the past. In other words, the inspiration does not have to have black roots. And most importantly, we feel confident for the first time in record numbers to actually put our own spin on the general market…there is a new premium on being who you are.”
And success with the African-American market doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all approach, she said. “From the First Lady to YouTube do-it-yourself videos about hair, makeup and fashion, they’re looking for a woman who they can respect for beauty advice,” she said. “In order to stay with the younger consumers, the iconic images have to constantly change to reflect the looks of the day. Those companies that choose a cookie-cutter approach without developing a real relationship with these consumers will ultimately lose. Social media is playing a particularly important role in quickly passing beauty opinions and a great dialogue between this younger group. It really is the new word of mouth and the new stamp of approval….Those companies that take a stand and create a real sense of familiarity and excitement with this consumer will be the ultimate winners.”
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)
@Pharrell and his wife Helen Lasichanh were among the stars that came out to celebrate @rimowa’s first pop-up concept shop. The space, which is located on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, draws inspiration from airport luggage carousels and lounge areas – and features the company’s luggage and accessories. If the pop-up is successful it could pave the way for addition temporary shops throughout the world. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA)
@carineroitfeld celebrated @crfashionbook’s first calendar last night with a dinner party at Spring Place in Manhattan. Photographed by @stevenkleinstudio, the calendar takes on a fitness theme and features @joansmalls, @gigihadid, @danielle_herrington_ – pictured here – and more. “[Carine Roitfeld] wanted me to feel sexy and she wanted me to be myself and feel it out on my own and do what I felt was right,” said Herrington, aka Miss October. #wwdeye
@saintrecords and @virgilabloh last night at @americanexpress’ “A Night With Success Makers” event. “I always bring it back to community because without that I wouldn’t have the courage,” said Knowles when asked how she has gotten where she is now. Read more highlights from their conversation on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lizdoupnik)
This Just In: Industry sources have told WWD that Anastasia Soare is rumored to be considering selling her beauty business, @anastasiabeverlyhills. According to those sources, Soare has tapped investment bank Imperial Capital to explore sale options for her eponymous beauty brand –– and with at least $340 million in net sales, this would be a big deal. Put in context of other recent transactions for makeup companies, Soare’s price tag could be in the billions if she were to sell the whole thing. #wwdnews #wwdbeauty (📷: @clint_spaulding)
@assouline’s latest book, “The Spirit of Bentley: Be Extraordinary” captures the adventurous attitudes and opulent lifestyles of @bentleymotors’ most creative owners and enthusiasts throughout the U.K. The 292-page hardcover has a section dedicated to showing its team of skilled artisans and photos of its most colorful owners, from George Bamford to designer @alicetemperley, pictured here by Aline Coquelle. #wwdeye
@google released its report on the most popular search terms this year. For fashion brands, the list was led by @gucci, the luxury brand that stunned the market last October when it pledged to stop using fur. Runner ups were @supremenewyork and @fashionnova, along with more established brands like @louisvuitton, @chanelofficial and @ysl. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)