By and  on December 8, 2006

When it comes to watching the beauty business for spring, retailers have eyes for upscale skin care.

"The eyes really have it for spring," said a major department store executive who declined to be identified. "The eye category is strong now, and it will continue to be strong well through the spring season." Spring will see major eye cream initiatives from Estée Lauder, Clinique, Lancôme and Prescriptives, to name just a few. The retailer also is expecting great things from new foundation launches by Lauder, Prescriptives and Lancôme.

On the fragrance side of the aisle, the retailer is looking forward to launching a slew of high-profile men's fragrances, including Lancôme Hypnôse Homme, Kenneth Cole's RSVP, D&G Light Blue for Men, Tommy Hilfiger Summer in Nantucket and Armani Attitude.

As in past years, there are a number of flanker scents coming for spring. Among them are Sean John Unforgivable Multi-Platinum, Michael Kors Hawaii, Estée Lauder Beautiful Love, Lancôme Miracle Forever, Ralph Lauren Ralph Rocks, Britney Spears Midnight Fantasy, Burberry Summer, Escada Sunset Heat for Men and Women, Tommy Hilfiger Summer in Nantucket for Him and Her, Lacoste Touch of Spring, Dior Addict Summer Breeze and flankers to Nautica, Issey Miyake, Angel and Calvin Klein's Eternity and Euphoria franchises. One twist this year, the retailer observed, is a trend toward masterbranding summer fragrances by major industry players.

At Belk Inc., Jon Pollack, executive vice president and general merchandise manager, said, "I foresee a slowdown in the celebrity fragrance category." He said he expects classic brands to pick up the slack. "We're seeing a real return to classics," Pollack said during an interview Thursday. "It's less about promotion and more about marketing and in-store activity. The Chanels and Cashmere Mists of the world are doing extremely well, [as is] Vera Wang Princess. Coco Mademoiselle continues to be strong. Euphoria has also been very good. These are non-promotional, classic brands, and that's what customers are buying."

Pollack said scents marketed by cosmetics brands are picking up. "White Linen for Estée Lauder has been good, and Hypnôse for Lancôme has been very powerful. They are creating more competition for the traditional fragrance bars."One challenge for the coming spring, according to Pollack, will be matching the volume generated on the men's side by Sean John's Unforgivable scent. "It was huge," Pollack remarked. "We're going to have to anniversary those giant numbers in the spring."

Ed Burstell, senior vice president and gmm of beauty, jewelry and accessories for Bergdorf Goodman, and Pat Saxby, vice president and divisional merchandise manager, said they're looking forward to launching a slew of high-end and bespoke products for spring. "Everything is very limited and exclusive distribution — it's all about the edit and the focus," said Burstell, who noted that the retailer will be doing modified custom fragrance programs with Ajane and Christopher Brosius, bringing in the high-end Ineke scent lineup and offering exclusive fragrance projects with Tom Ford and Chanel, among others.

Bergdorf Goodman also plans to bring in several luxury skin care lines, including Davi, Evo, Lisa Hoffman and Elemis. Burstell also is excited about a skin care line from Budapest called Omorovicza and said that existing high-end skin care continues to grow at record speeds, especially the businesses of Kanebo, Amore Pacific, Nature Bissé and Chanel. Home fragrance brands, including candles and diffusers from Agraria and Antica Pharmacia, are also doing well, he said.

"For fragrance, we believe that there is more excitement in this category at the moment than [in] any other," added Claudia Lucas, senior vice president and gmm of beauty for Henri Bendel. "There are some very interesting independent perfumers out there creating products with a more sophisticated and special feel. We will launch several major initiatives with fragrance this spring, including Memoire Liquide, a bespoke perfumery developed with Robin Coe-Hutshing, and from France, Etat Libre d'Orange."

Lucas believes skin care also will have a strong first half next year. "We will continue to develop a very edited and editorial approach to this category," said Lucas. "We will be working with independent young entrepreneurs such as Kate Somerville and Lisa Simon. In trend, we see a move away from 'Botox in jar'-type products to brightening, whitening, clarifying products. And finally, everyone is really going to understand the importance of sunscreen."Said Betsy Olum, senior vice president of marketing for Sephora, "We've identified several key trends this season, and these include beauty with skin care benefits, personalized beauty, marathon makeup and intrinsic and extrinsic aging. A huge trend, across all categories, will be eco-friendly beauty, and we're thrilled to exclusively debut Care by Stella McCartney, as well as a new product line from Cargo called PlantLove," Olum continued.

Skin is also in at Holt Renfrew, said Shelley Rozenwald, the retailer's senior vice president of cosmetics, skin care, fragrance and beauty services. "Pale is the new tan for spring," she said. "Whitening and brightening for all skins will be hot, as will 'body-beautiful' products: slimming, toning and firming items. Also, people are trying to slow down the aging process, yet find surgery alternatives — they will continue to buy intensive treatments: luxurious creams, lotions and potions. Money is no object, but they must perform. The mass lines are making very sophisticated claims now. We need to offer the consumer the background to what we are selling."

Rozenwald predicts big things for the organic skin care segment, as well, noting Stella McCartney, Jo Wood and Skyn Iceland as current standouts.

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