PARIS — Changes are afoot at Sephora.

The LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned perfumery unveiled a Sephora MAC Makeup Studio here and made its debut in print advertising in France this week. It will also launch a private label line of fragrances worldwide next month.

MAC unveiled the 431-square-foot makeup studio Tuesdayin Sephora’s Champs-Elysées flagship. The space, located in the perfumery’s color cosmetics area, has an open-sell format and is manned by MAC makeup artists.

“It’s an opportunity for us to articulate [MAC’s] unique service approach in a Sephora environment,” said MAC president John Demsey, who noted the studio’s debut marks the brand’s first foray into a Sephora door. “Clearly, the Sephora Champs-Elysées store is a world-class beauty destination. It is one of the most highly visible and frequented beacons in our industry.”

Jacques Levy, Sephora Europe’s chief executive officer, said the image of his perfumery chain and that of MAC make a good match. “It has been a dream for MAC to come to the Sephora Champs-Elysées store and a dream for Sephora to have MAC, which has a very [edgy] positioning in makeup,” he said.

Demsey added the studio also offers “an opportunity to test the viability of MAC in Sephora’s best door.”

A second, smaller version of the studio is also slated to be opened in a Sephora outside of Paris, he said.

To fete the studio’s Champs-Elysées opening, MAC will host a three-week promotion starting next Tuesday, featuring body painting and consultations with the brand’s backstage beauty team. DJs will spin a backstage-fashion-show ambience, and plasma screens will project images of makeup artists demonstrating how to re-create the latest catwalk looks. Additionally, MAC has created a limited-edition burgundy-tinted lipstick that will be available exclusively in the store. Called Sephora Red, it will retail for $20.50 at current exchange rates, or 16 euros.

Other limited-edition MAC items exclusive to the Champs-Elysées store will be available throughout the year, as well.

Sephora broke its first ad campaign in French publications Monday, which features a new image concept for the chain dubbed “advancer en beauté,” (advance beautifully, in English). Its visuals are event- and category-themed, picturing a selection of beauty products, including private label items. It’s a strategy that makes sense for Sephora, since it’s both a distributor and a brand, said Natalie Bader Michel, marketing manager, Europe, for the chain. She explained stores generally focus their advertising on holidays, while brands concentrate on highlighting specific products.Sephora’s ads also feature models, meant to help draw consumers closer to the chain, and the “advancer en beauté” tag line.

Sephora France’s first ad features a number of men’s scents and some skin care items, arranged in the symbol for man. It also features a head shot of a male model.

A second version of the ad is advertorial-style, featuring a diary-like account of a man’s decision to take care of his skin. Here, scribbled notes are scattered among snapshots of moments in a man’s day and a smattering of fragrance and skin care products.

Ads, which will have text explaining upcoming in-store promotions, will run for two weeks.

The visuals were created by Les Ouvriers du Paradis agency and are in single pages and double-page spreads. They will also be used in Sephoras across France and elsewhere in Europe.

Already, the new campaign has been teased in some of France’s Sephora stores. Starting Feb. 7, a Valentine’s Day campaign was launched highlighting images of products arranged in a heart shape and featuring models.

Sephora also plans to woo customers with a floral bouquet.

The chain will introduce Fleur de Sephora, a collection of seven floral fragrances, in its stores worldwide this March. The products target an older audience than Sephora Girl, the retailer’s preteen brand, and are meant to juice up the perfumery business.

“We decided to launch the line to [energize] the market and profit from our knowledge of consumers,” explained Bader Michel.

While she declined to divulge numbers, industry sources estimate the line could do $20 million in retail volume in its first year after launch.

The scents — each of which has a floral note teamed with another olfactive note — were created by Firmenich’s perfumers Nathalie Lorson, Ilias Ermenidis, Jean-Pierre Bethouard and Richard Herpin. Orchidee, a spicy floral, has a juice based on orchid accented by cardamom, for instance. Jasmin, an aromatic floral, teams jasmine with green tea notes.

The scents are meant to be worn alone or to be layered. They’re priced in France at $25.60, or 20 euros, for a 50-ml. eau de toilette spray.Each fragrance comes in a dewdrop-shaped bottle tinted in a different color that also appears on its outer box. For instance, the Orchidee fragrance’s flacon and packaging comes in purple. Every box also features a rendering of the flower whose scent is at the heart of each fragrance.

In other Sephora news, the Champs-Elysées flagship will undergo renovations this spring, including more space allocated to skin care and treatment services. Sephora’s other stores will be similarly tweaked during the first half of this year.

The changes represent “an evolution, not a revolution,” for the chain, said Bader Michel.

— Brid Costello

MAC Renovates at Bendel’s

NEW YORK — Stateside, MAC has opened the doors to its newly renovated boutique at Henri Bendel.

The partnership between Bendel’s and MAC began back in late 1988 when as the brand’s first door, it was located in the cosmetics department — then in the back of the store. In 1993 “it took over what was the Claude Montana boutique and never looked back,” said Ed Burstell, Henri Bendel’s vice president and general merchandise manager. “MAC has been the premier cosmetics brand [for the store] in volume and attitude since the beginning.”

Industry sources estimate the brand will generate sales of over $3 million at Bendel’s in 2004.

“This has been the incubation pod for the brand,” said John Demsey, president of MAC. “Bendel’s offers us the theatrical stage to be our most creative,” he added. Demsey explained that the boutique will now have the ability to do five sit-down makeup consultations at a time and sufficient linear space to present its over 1,000 stockkeeping units. The products are neatly stocked on the back wall and displayed on Lucite shelves. In addition, the lighting has been redone and there is also a designated cash wrap area. Demsey added he expects the brand to achieve a strong double-digit increase in the almost 800 square-foot updated boutique.

— Kristin Finn

Fallout From P&G, Wella DealBERLIN — Procter & Gamble’s acquisition of Wella remains under fire.

As expected, a group of Wella minority investors filed a petition Tuesday with a district court in Darmstadt, Germany, that calls for an audit of two issues pertaining to the takeover of the German hair care and cosmetics firm.

The petition requests an investigation of whether Wella’s management and supervisory boards acted in violation of their duties in the run-up to the P&G takeover. It also calls for the examination of alleged violations of duties in connection with the announced integration.

The Wella minority shareholders’ group said in a statement it expects a court decision before the end of spring.

The group had begun preparing its court petition following P&G’s veto of an audit brought up at an extraordinary shareholder meeting earlier this month.

For Wella, a second legal challenge might also be in the offing from its minority shareholder, Deka Investment.

“Deka is considering legal steps to challenge Procter & Gamble’s acquisition of Wella,” confirmed a spokesman for the German group, which holds about 600,000 Wella preference shares.

— B.C.

Almay Names Spokesmodel

NEW YORK — Almay has a reputation as a rational cosmetics brand, long on technology and good-for-you ingredients. But its brand marketers want it known that beauty also goes hand in hand with a happy life.

So the Revlon-owned brand has tapped a new spokesmodel — Elaine Irwin Mellencamp — to help express Almay’s lifestyle elements.

Mellencamp, a model for Lauren by Ralph Lauren who has done print and runway work, will appear in TV and print ads for Almay that will break on March 8. Four spots are being shot that will show Mellencamp in a variety of situations — at a soccer game, shopping with a friend, putting on makeup while her daughter watches and returning home from work being greeted by her husband.

Mellencamp’s two real-life sons — Hud, 9 and Speck, 8 — appear with her in the soccer spot. She is the wife of musician John Mellencamp.The commercials are being directed by Carlton Chase and print ads are photographed by Dewey Nicks. Products featured include Nearly Naked foundation, Clear Complexion and Bright Eyes.

“We’ve been so proud of Almay products and that it is a skin-loving brand,” said Kevin Kells, vice president of marketing. “We’ve never told her side of the story — [the new ads] are more about her interaction with life. We haven’t told that story before.”

— Laura Klepacki

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