LONDON — To create its latest makeup collection, called FCUK Vanity, British fashion brand French Connection didn’t watch what the rest of the beauty industry was doing.

Instead, it drew inspiration fromart stores and sweetshops.

“We looked at paint and art shops, and we loved that sexy, playful style of pick-and-mix shopping, so we tied the two together to create FCUK Vanity,” said FCUK’s beauty and cosmetic manager, Sophie Green.

As part of a licensing agreement signed in June 2000 with British retailer Boots, French Connection has created a 25-stockkeeping-unit color cosmetics line including eye powders and creams, concealers and blushers to replace French Connection’s existing makeup line, FC Face. Distribution will be restricted to Boots and French Connection stores in Britain and Ireland.

Launched in 1996, FC Face will be replaced by FCUK Vanity in Boots stores by mid-October and rolled out to all French Connection stores in the United Kingdom and Ireland by 2004.

“FC Face was just a natural extension of a successful fashion brand,” said Sophie Green.

“FCUK Vanity is a bit more premium-priced and has more on the design side, and has injected more of the FCUK attitude into the range. We really wanted to do something a lot more special, we wanted it to be more sexy,” Green added.

French Connection has worked sexy elements into product names — with lip glosses named Panting and Busty Beige.

The line’s packaging is transparent.Magnetic eye pods can be opened by pressing together a clasp, and lipsticks have a flip top. Green said the packaging makes the new line more desirable.

“The packaging is so great you just want to have one in your handbag. We wanted to make the magnetic pods flexible so that you could pick and mix your own colors for the weekend. We liked the idea that you could stick it on the fridge and the mirror — it’s really fun and playful,” Green said

Green added the firm also worked on packs containing several pods, entitled Rescue Me and Pull Me, which fit into special merchandising stands developed for display.“The merchandising is fabulous. We thought about columns of jelly beans and added the play element to it, so there is soft pink lighting and products that hang in bags on the side. We’ll have packs available for Christmas like the Rescue Me kit that is for the day after and will contain a concealer, a nude lip gloss and a nude eye shadow,” Green said.

Green wouldn’t put an amount on how much sales volume the cosmetics line is expected to generate in its first year, saying merely: “We’re hoping it will do very well.” Industry sources, however, estimate the line could do about $15.7 million, or 10 million pounds, at retail in its first year. Dollars have been converted from the pound at current exchange rates.

French Connection reported a 2003 turnover of $380.1 million, a 12.7 percent rise over 2002.

— Stephanie Epiro

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NEW YORK — Victoria’s Secret Beauty will enter a new category when it launches hair care in 2004. Currently, the products, called So Sexy Hair, are being tested in about 90 Victoria’s Secret Beauty stores. The line includes shampoos, conditioners and styling products, priced around $7 each.

— Kristin Finn

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