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Celebs’ New Beauty Push: Color Cosmetics

Victoria Beckham and Rihanna signed deals with Estée Lauder and LVMH's Kendo, respectively, to launch makeup lines.

Are color cosmetics the next frontier for celebrities doing beauty deals?

Two global celebrities — Rihanna and Victoria Beckham — last week unveiled prestige color cosmetics collaborations within 48 hours of one another. Also on Friday, Katy Perry revealed she is launching a mass market color cosmetics line in July for Covergirl that focuses on demi-matte lipsticks and longwear mascaras.  The deals are further evidence of a major ongoing shift in the beauty world, which for years was fueled by the latest celebrity fragrance and its subsequent slew of flankers.

Now, beauty firms — and the celebrities they court — are turning to makeup as the new realm to conquer. The reason is a simple one: Celebrity fragrances are shriveling as a category, plummeting to less than 2 percent of the prestige fragrance market in 2014 from 4 percent in 2011, according to figures from NPD Group.

Rihanna’s deal with LVMH Möet Hennesy Louis Vuitton’s Kendo division came out Thursday, followed by Victoria Beckham’s agreement with Estée Lauder, which was disclosed Friday.

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“Makeup is the one category that’s hotter than fragrances and/or skin care, and…at the high-end there aren’t many makeup artist or celebrity products, so in Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman and Nordstrom, there’s a position for it,” said industry consultant Allan Mottus. “What’s going to happen now is we’re going to see a rush of this stuff. It’s going to be like 2002 with celebrity fragrances.”

There’s a problem, though: it’s unlikely a celebrity color line will hit the triple-digit sales volumes seen by the likes of Coty Inc.’s JLo fragrance franchise, plus profitability will be lower given the number of stockkeeping units needed to be produced to assemble a full-color line.

That’s why the beauty industry has traditionally shied away from celebrity collaborations for color cosmetics. But prestige makeup is a fast-growing category, expanding 13 percent for 2015, compared with 7 percent growth for the prestige category as a whole, according to figures from NPD.

In order for a celebrity to successfully do their own color-cosmetics line, “they have to have a lifestyle following,” Mottus said.

“Either they need to have some credible experience in the industry, like Drew Barrymore, who started as a spokesperson for CoverGirl…or have some sort of life-changing event or some sort of personal ethos that they’re able to bring into the market,” said Martin Okner, managing director at SHM Corporate Navigators and chairman, ACG New York.

LVMH’s Kendo incubator signed Rihanna to do a complete makeup collection called Fenty Beauty, set to launch in fall 2017. Kendo is behind Kat Von D Beauty and Marc Jacobs Beauty. Victoria Beckham Estée Lauder, a limited-edition makeup line, is scheduled to launch this September.

Other celebrities have gotten in on the beauty bucks, including Kylie Jenner, whose lip kit remains in high demand. Jenner is also behind King Kylie nail polish, which is selling well. Barrymore started Flower Beauty in 2012, while Jessica Alba started Honest Beauty in 2015. In 2013, L’Oréal teamed with beauty vlogger Michelle Phan on a color cosmetics line, and MAC, a subsidiary of the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., has routinely partnered with celebrities for color collections.

This is not Beckham’s first foray into beauty — she collaborated with Nails Inc. for a limited-edition nail polish set that launched in stores last February. At that point she alluded to her interest in making moves further into the beauty space, telling WWD: “I have a strong eye and a strong opinion. So, when the time is right, I would love to do [more] beauty [projects in the future].”

Coty Inc. signed Beckham and her husband, David Beckham, for its first celebrity-couple fragrance licensing agreement back in 2005. At that time, the plan was to build a Beckham Beauty House business, focusing mainly on fragrances under David’s name. Coty still owns the David Beckham fragrance license.

Beckham’s limited-edition collaboration with Estée Lauder is set to launch in September in select retailers, including Victoria Beckham Dover Street, Bergdorf’s, Selfridges, Neiman’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom, plus the retailers’ Web sites. The brand unveiled the news on Instagram Friday morning with a photo of Beckham and the hashtag #VBxEsteeLauder.

“The whole process has been both inspiring and eye-opening — from going back and revisiting the Estée Lauder archives through to working on the product with the Estée team, this feels like the perfect makeup partnership for me and my brand,” Beckham said. “I had long admired Estée Lauder the woman and the powerful brand that she created, so I am excited to offer both of our customers this makeup range and play a small part in her vision for women.”

Jane Hertzmark Hudis, group president for Estée Lauder, said, “Victoria is an entrepreneur in the true spirit of our founder, Estée Lauder, with a real understanding of what women want, and a commitment to making women look and feel their most beautiful. Victoria has a passion for beauty and we are delighted to welcome her into our brand.”

For Lauder, the move follows the launch of the Estée Edit, a skin-care and color cosmetics collection sold at Sephora and aimed at Millennial consumers. That lineup was created in connection with Kendall Jenner and beauty blogger Irene Kim.