COLORS OF SOUTHWEST

Byline: RUSTY WILLIAMSON

DALLAS--Color cosmetics continue to produce lots of green at Southwest beauty counters, with sales mostly up about 10 to 12 percent, retailers reported.
Fall should paint a similar sales story, they reasoned, with forecasts for a rich facial palette likely to draw crowds.
Retailers described the autumn look as sophisticated and almost Parisian: smoky eyes, complete with lush liner and even false eyelashes; natural, almost pale foundations with only a hint of cheek color, and deeply hued lips, typically in red or relatives berry and plum.
Within brands, lipstick continues as the top color item, and those with staying power are especially hot.
Innovative color products formulated with treatment properties are helping boost sales at least 10 percent at J.C. Penney Co. Inc., Plano, Tex., according to Kathleen Langley, buyer.
"Color business is good," said Langley. "Treatment and sun protection is all the buzz within the category. Almost all products, from foundations to lipsticks, have at the least sun protection, typically with an 8 to 15 SPF rating."
Bestsellers include the Iman, Flori Roberts and Fashion Fair lines for women of color, and Penney's intends to build this audience with ads in Essence magazine and on ethnic radio stations. Penney's other top lines are Ultima II and Color Me Beautiful.
At Neiman Marcus, Dallas, customers value guidance and advice, said John Stabenau, vice president and divisional merchandise manager.
"They're not looking for gifts, but attention," said Stabenau. "When customers come to beauty counters, it's service they're after."
He said color sales have been excellent, though he declined to cite numbers.
"Lipsticks and eye shadows are best-selling items," he noted. "For fall, dark lips and smoky eyes have it."
Top color lines at Neiman's are Prescriptives, Chanel, Estee Lauder and Bobbi Brown.
Makeovers are magnets at Barbara Jean, Little Rock, Ark., a women's specialty store that's been a frequent stop for First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"We have a sophisticated clientele, and they want makeovers for different occasions--social, luncheon, etc.," explained Annette Connaway, cosmetics director. "And they come in at least three or four times yearly for new looks."
Chanel and Erno Laszlo are bestsellers, with sales up 11 percent against the same period last year.
At the Village Pharmacy, Dallas, top color items are lipsticks, eye shadows and liners, foundations--and false eyelashes, said Wilhelmina Von Heflick, cosmetics manager.
Arden is a top color line at the Village Pharmacy, Von Heflick said, along with Aida Gray, Revlon and L'Oreal. Color sales are running 12 percent ahead year-to-date, Von Heflick.
At Balliet's, a women's specialty store in Oklahoma City, Okla., the color cosmetics anchors are Chanel, La Prairie and Laszlo, according to DeDe Benham, cosmetics buyer. Benham said business is even with last year, a result of increased competition.
She cited Chanel's Lip Intensities and Aqua Crayon as particularly strong sellers.
Benham said women are finally heeding warnings about the sun and are forsaking tans, leading vendors to respond with new makeup offerings.
"A lot of the companies are adding fairer foundation tones," said Benham. "The skin being lighter is more popular because consumers are now so sensitive about the sun."

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