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Editor’s Letter: Shining Through

The California dream is not only alive and well, but it’s also resonant with today’s economic reality.

The California dream is not only alive and well, but it’s also resonant with today’s economic reality. For proof, look no further than the growth posted by the movie industry despite the financial crisis, one of only a handful of business categories trending upwards in the current climate.

California has also historically been fertile ground when it comes to fostering beauty innovation, home to unique brands that have experienced explosive growth and helped steer the industry in a new direction—Bare Escentuals, Benefit and ProActiv, to name just a few.

Today, California is still a central crossroads for cutting-edge thinking, as West Coast contributor Rachel Brown discovered when we asked her to investigate innovative indies—and the investment firms that love them—are managing to survive in today’s climate. The answer is yes: As Brown reports, many companies in the hottest sectors of beauty and personal care are based in California, such as at-home devices and natural/organic products. That fact hasn’t gone unnoticed by the mergers and acquisitions community, and although activity has slowed considerably, the hunt for the next big breakthrough is undoubtably on. “There has been a lull for the last six months, and it feels like we’re coming out of that lull,” one banker told Brown. For a full report on who’s hot, who’s looking and who’s got money to spend, check out “Ray of Light.”

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Hollywood has long influenced mainstream hair and makeup trends, epitomizing and defining aspirational beauty. Traditionally, red carpet beauty has followed a more-is-more ethos. This year, though, a marked difference occurred, a more relaxed attitude, if you will, with many of Hollywood’s leading Glamazons opting for a lowkey approach. “A red carpet used to mean people had to show up as a caricature of a movie star and some people still do,” says celebrity makeup artist Pati Dubrof. “But I felt like there was an unwritten rule of let’s tone it down. People can argue we need fantasy, but toning it down and making it more palatable felt respectable.” Discover the key red carpet beauty trends in “Easy Does It.”

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One of the brightest lights on the awards show circuit this season was WWD Beauty Biz cover star Amanda Seyfried. On the face of it, Seyfried is the quintessential Hollywood golden girl: blonde hair, big baby blue eyes and a perfectly proportioned body. But Seyfried is also one of the most capable young actors in Tinseltown, one who is sought after by leading directors and determined to prove that her talent is much more than skin deep. With three films set to open in the next year, Seyfried is well on her way, proving despite tough times, it’s still possible to strike gold.