NEW YORK--Makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin is dipping his toe into the makeup artist arena with the launch of his new Web site and the very first items in his long-awaited line. And the major question the industry is asking is: What the heck took him so long? "I've had opportunities with companies to do a licensed line, but I wasn't going to cash in on my name and success," said Aucoin, arguably one of the world's best-known makeup artists--with countless celebrity gigs, a monthly column in Allure and shelves full of industry awards, among other things. "I wanted to wait until the time was right." And that time is now, as chairman and chief executive of his own line. "Not bad for a guy from Lafayette, La., huh?" he laughs, not about to let his considerable success go to his head. The charismatic artist's Web site, kevynaucoin.com, goes live Nov. 5, with Aucoin's very first products: a limited-edition makeup brush set, two varieties of mascara in two colors apiece, and a red rubber eyelash curler. While price points haven't yet been finalized, the 12-brush set will likely retail for about $350; it will come boxed with a brush roll and detailed instructions for use. The mascaras--volumizing and curling formulas, each in two colors, black and burgundy--are each tentatively priced at $25, while the eyelash curler will retail for about $16.50. "This is an important step for us," said Michelle Williams, president of the line, a longtime retail veteran who had been a Federated cosmetics executive and who also worked for Beauty.com. "There's been a lot of anticipation for Kevyn's line, and this will give people a taste of it--as well as whet people's appetites for the expanded line next year." The Web site will feature the products, as well as step-by-step makeup lessons, columns by Kevyn, his career highlights and a chat room, among other things. "The content will be changed as we go along," said Williams. Aucoin will enter a full-scale color business in a to-be-determined lineup of retail stores in fall 2002. "I decided to do mascara as my first color cosmetic because I found this fabulous formula in Japan," Aucoin says excitedly. "All of my products will be things I'd use in my own kit. This is about the makeup world as I see it. It's not about how little I can make it for and how much I will sell it for. I want the very highest of quality, not a private label line that I'm putting my name on." This isn't the first time that Aucoin has ventured into the product development side of the business. He helped to create Ultima II's The Nakeds shade range in 1994, and in 1992 signed a contract to work on the relaunch of Inoui, the cult cosmetics line Shiseido launched in 1977 and sold in Japan only. Aucoin worked on its products and packaging, as well as on its advertising and beauty adviser training. He has also consulted for a variety of makeup companies, including Prescriptives, Chanel, Estee Lauder and Revlon. He's determined that his products will be as good or better than all of them. "If you're not going to come out with a line that has the quality of a major brand and then some--as well as be innovative--why bother?" he asked. "You're then just another person that's hogging the market and capitalizing on your name. I want there to be function in everything I do; my favorite word is effective. That's what I want these things to be. Take the eyelash curler: the American ones were too rounded and pinched your eyelids. This one is red--so you can see your lashes on it--and it's rounded, so you can get right down to the base of the lash." Through all his activities --his column in Allure, his three books, his photo shoots and even the recent adoption of his niece--Aucoin remains humble. "Not to sound corny, but I'm grateful every day for the chance to do something I love," he said. "I can't wait to see what's next."
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