NEW YORK--Two disparate faces of fall seem to be leading color direction this year.
On the one hand is a modernized Mod look with dark, smoky eyes paired with a pale mouth. On the other is a more classically feminine appearance with a bolder mouth and more subtle eyes. As always, beauty took a lot of its cues from the runways, which were showed divergent looks, as well.
"There were two major influences from the fashion collections, and that has caused there to be two very different makeup looks," said Marianne Diorio, vice president of marketing for Prescriptives. Diorio was referring to fall collections that included vinyl Mod minis, which went head-to-head with the more ladylike collections of knee-length dresses and pencil skirts.
But whatever the look, one thing seems certain, after many years of "barely there" neutrals: Color is finally and truly back.
"For years we have been saying that color is back, and last year our sales finally proved that," said Karen Young, assistant vice president of makeup marketing for LancOme. "We are finally seeing brighter colors selling, not just the browns and the beiges, which were the only thing that moved for years."
"Neutrals were a tremendous story, and I think it's pretty much behind us now," agreed Allen Burke, divisional merchandise manager of cosmetics at Dayton's, Hudson's & Marshall Field's, based in Minneapolis. "It was low or no makeup. The fact that there is a look is encouraging."
This shift in fashion made for a 1994 increase of more than 5 percent in the $1.6 billion prestige color cosmetics market, after several years of little or no growth.
A similar increase is predicted for this year, and retailers are already beginning to reap the benefits, with year-to-date gains averaging from the high-single to the low-double digits.
Sales are ahead in most lines, Burke continued, "from somewhat to big." Many expect greater growth this fall, when women typically wear more makeup and can choose from the season's varied options within this season's palettes.
Variety is key at Rich's, according to Pat Joyce, vice president, divisional merchandise manager. "Vendors are offering many interpretations," she said. "There are dark eyes and pale lips, or a retro look with pale lips and dark eyes, all offered by the same company. They're showing the customer completely different looks and how they can achieve them."
Color at Rich's has shown low-double-digit increases this year, outpacing fragrance, but behind treatment. John Stabenau, vice president and divisional merchandise manager, noted that color sales have been "excellent" and cited guidance and advice as top selling points for color lines.
"[Our customers are] not looking for gifts, but attention," said Stabenau. "When customers come to beauty counters, it's service they're after."
As a primer to fall beauty, WWD has compiled a pictorial of the season's diverse color collections that begins on page 12. Retailers discuss top-selling color items and trends in the color market starting on page 16..

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