LOS ANGELES--Color cosmetics rang up gains of 6 percent or more during the first six months of 1994 at three major California stores. While still ranking behind the powerhouse categories of fragrance and treatment, color remains a strong performer, the retailers said. Color rang up sales gains of more than 10 percent for the first six months at I. Magnin, the R.H. Macy & Co.-owned specialty store based in San Francisco. Adrienne Hoyer, senior vice president and general merchandise manager, noted that at I. Magnin, customers are returning to makeup, and they are searching for maximum coverage, but in lightweight formulas. The hottest lines at Magnin's have been Chanel, Lauder, Yves Saint Laurent, Alexandra de Markoff, Dior and Lancôme. Lights, sheers, matte and neutrals are strong, Hoyer noted, adding that frost colors have emerged as strong sellers during the first six months. Smoky shades have been dominant for the eyes. The strongest categories for color have been eye and nail products, she said. Reds and maroons have been the most popular shades for these areas. For cheeks, a softer emphasis has been selling best, Hoyer said. One of the strongest launches for the store this year has been a versatile Lauder makeup which can be applied wet or dry. Summer Colors, launched by Chanel, also has performed well, Hoyer said. A spokeswoman at The Broadway Stores said the chain rang up a 6 percent increase in color for the first six months, with a similar increase expected during the second half. Red is still the strong color for lips during the holidays at The Broadway, but browns and neutrals reign during most of the rest of the year. The spokeswoman said lipsticks and lip pencils are the strongest items in the color category. The best-selling color lines at The Broadway, in order, are Estée Lauder, Lancôme, Clinique, Elizabeth Arden and Shiseido. "Women are returning to makeup," said The Broadway spokeswoman. At Gottschalks, based in Fresno, Calif., the color category has been 9 percent ahead of last year, according to Robert Wiser, divisional merchandise manager of cosmetics and accessories. He noted that color gains are a little behind fragrance and treatment, two traditionally stronger categories for the store. The biggest increases in the color category at Gottschalks have been from Clinique and Lancôme. Neutrals continue to be strong, but a broad range of colors remains popular because of the store's diverse customer mix. The lips have been a hot category, with Lipsexxxy by Ultima II selling very well since its spring introduction. Wiser said other bestsellers for the store include Ultima II's Falsies mascara and Lauder's Maximum Coverage foundation. Wiser described Lauder's Maximum Coverage as a "phenomenon" and noted the product sold out only weeks after its spring introduction. Wiser said women are returning to makeup when the product is right. "Maximum Coverage and Lipsexxxy blew off the shelves," Wiser said. "As products come out that are superior to others, people respond."
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