MUNICH — Dita Von Teese might be as well-known for putting on cosmetics as she is for taking off her clothes.

The retro-styled siren’s perfectly painted and powdered pout caught the attention of Germany’s Artdeco, resulting in a match made in makeup heaven. Starting in mid-June, Artdeco will launch the first collection in a year-long collaboration with the burlesque star-turned-beauty icon.

Called Dita Von Teese Classics, the makeup range includes a powder compact, four blushers, a gel eyeliner and brush and pencil eyeliner, as well as 12 individual eye shadows, mascara, false lashes (with and without rhinestones), six lipstick shades, two lip liners, a lip lacquer and four nail polish colors. Packaging is black with vintage boudoir-style detailing and a sketch of the line’s inspiration, along with her name. It’s not just all about the pretty — there are a few innovations mixed in, such as the ergonomic rubberized grip on the highly pigmented retractable Eye Styler, which provides a firm hold during application.

At an event last week in Munich, she dazzled a crowd of journalists and Bavarian big-wigs with her cheerfully sexy cosmetics-themed burlesque routine, which began with Von Teese emerging from an oversize mirrored compact, and had her applying lipstick, then a lusty dose of body powder with an ornate puff as she stripped to the most minimal of glittery underpinnings.

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But it is her flawless face that continues to captivate Helmut Baurecht, founder and head of Karlsfeld, Germany-based Artdeco Cosmetic Group. “I believe she is the global style icon for makeup,” he said of Von Teese. “There’s no one else who represents makeup as perfectly as she does.”

For Artdeco, this is a step in a new direction. While the firm has worked together with color-loving artists Carlo Ferrari of Italy and Brazilian-born, Miami-based Romero Britto, and femme-cool German fashion designer team Kaviar Gauche, this is the firm’s first foray into the celebrity realm, with someone else’s name front and center, sharing space with the Artdeco label on every product.

Anna Blasco Salvat, the company’s vice president of marketing, said in a world where the price division between the selective and mass cosmetics markets is widening, such collaborations and special additions provide added worth. “We want to bring our brand to the front, so, naturally, we need these designers or this input from outside. It gives the brand an extra value, a prestige character,” explained Blasco Salvat.

For his part, Baurecht said he believes Von Teese’s involvement with his company will give the Artdeco brand a whole new image. Not that the old one is lacking. Artdeco has held a solid spot near the top of the German selective cosmetics market, with a 40 percent share in unit terms, and 18 percent in revenues. The company maintains that in its home market, it sells more products than the leading three luxury brands combined. Artdeco is known for its quality at a decent price — just above, or sometimes priced below mass brands like L’Oréal Paris and Maybelline Jade, but more affordable than MAC Cosmetics or Lancôme.

 

Baurecht believes he can build on his current success with the Von Teese partnership, and attract a new set of German customers who are presently drawn to the classic glamour of French brands. “International is also very important for us. Through her global celebrity, [Von Teese] may be able to open doors for us in lands where we’re not that strong yet,” he said. “For instance, in Galeries Lafayette in France, we’re in the back, in the corner right now. We want to be in the front between Chanel and Dior!”

Artdeco’s arrangement with Von Teese runs for one year and only covers Europe, though Baurecht hopes the contract will be extended and geographically widened. Interest in the Von Teese collaboration could provide new market access, and even drive Artdeco’s return to the American market, where it was previously sold in a limited arrangement with HSN but is currently not available.

 

As for Paris and Los Angeles-based Von Teese, it is her second foray into partnership with a German company; the first netted her a Duftstars (German Fragrance Foundation) nomination for her signature scent, produced with her fragrance license holder Luxess. This trend towards transatlantic unions may or may not be a coincidence, she said. “I thought they were great products that I’m proud to put my name on, and they let me have a lot of say in what hits the shelves and at what would be a good price point, too,” Von Teese said. “And then on the other hand, I also think, ‘Oh wow, I guess the Germans believe in me.’ Thanks!” She also has a lingerie and dress cooperation with Australia’s Lime Door Brands, continuing her trend towards dealing with companies where she can have hands-on involvement with the products, rather then just contributing an endorsement.

The line’s name, Dita Von Teese Classics, should also be taken literally, according to its namesake. “I was really motivated by things I personally wanted in my makeup kit,” said Von Teese, who does her own hair styling and cosmetics application. Enthusiastic and dedicated, she relentlessly tried out all the offerings through the testing phases; during a private dinner she could be seen excitedly conferring with Artdeco staff over colors and textures of upcoming products. Her first collection with the company includes the tools to replicate her classic look — blacker-than-black eyeliners for the perfect cat eye, and ruby red lipsticks, but also includes neutral eye shadows in both matte and pearl, and a subtle set of blush shades.

Suggested retail prices for Artdeco’s Dita Von Teese Classics range from 4.80 euros, or $6.36, for a single eye shadow; to 7.50 euros, or $9.93, for a nail polish; to 14.80 euros, or $19.60, for a lipstick, and 24 euros, or $31.79, for the translucent powder compact. Blush and eye shadow pans are designed to fit in Artdeco’s signature magnetic Beauty Box palettes — a special one was designed for this collection. At least two more releases are planned — one with fall-winter trend colors, and one with special luxury packaging. The line will receive highlighted positioning in perfumeries and department stores across Europe.

Artdeco Cosmetic Group, which exports to 75 countries, chalked up a wholesale turnover of 157.2 million euros, or $219.2 million at average exchange, for 2011. That was up 10 percent on-year, according to the company. Russia, France, Ukraine and Spain are top export markets for the company. Other brands under the Artdeco Cosmetic Group umbrella include Misslyn, Anny, BeYu, Malu Wiltz and Make Up Factory.

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