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Yves Saint Laurent Releases Lip Color Hybrid

Rouge Pur Couture Vernis à Lèvres is a hybrid of lipstick, gloss and stain.

PARIS — Yves Saint Laurent’s new lip color is a bit of a mouthful — Rouge Pur Couture Vernis à Lèvres — and it should be: It’s a hybrid of lipstick, gloss and stain.

The company is banking on it to move the brand up in the gloss rankings, and cites promising initial results.

At Selfridges, 1,110 units have been sold since it arrived in store on Dec. 8, and in the U.S. has sold out three shades since it hit the Web the week of Jan. 17, according to a spokeswoman at L’Oréal’s YSL Perfumes and Beauty.

Although company executives would not discuss sales projections, industry sources estimate Vernis à Lèvres — whose 19 shades were created by Lloyd Simmonds, creative director for makeup Yves Saint Laurent — will generate $35 million in first-year retail revenues.

Vernis à Lèvres (whose name plays on the French words for nail polish, or vernis à ongles) has a formula containing what YSL executives call “Lifeproof Color Emulsion.” It gives a “real nude texture, and at the same time you have lasting color and this new shine that is unique,” said Nathalie Durán, YSL Perfumes and Beauty’s deputy managing director.

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Vernis à Lèvres’ newfangled applicator resembles a small spatula for a precise application, she explained. The line includes signature YSL hues such as fuchsia, red and orange. Each glossy stain retails for $32 in the U.S.

Following its prelaunch in Selfridges, Germany’s KaDeWe, and on, plus its introduction in Taiwan, Vernis à Lèvres is due out in full distribution on Jan. 28 in Italy, on Feb. 1 in Japan and Hong Kong, and by mid-February in much of Europe and the Middle East.

The Rouge Pur Couture franchise — whose products are intensely pigmented — was revamped in 2010, with a new lipstick line. Also within YSL is the lip color collection Rouge Volupté, with creamy textures.

Today in the gloss category, YSL ranks third in France, sixth in the U.K. and seventh in Spain. Vernis à Lèvres will be counted in that segment by market research companies, at least for now. “We aim to go number one with this launch,” said Durán.