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Topshop is applying its fast-fashion prowess to beauty with the introduction of two cosmetics ranges, a core line and an in-and-out seasonal trend collection.

This story first appeared in the February 26, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

In May, the full lineup is slated to launch in Topshop’s top 30 doors, including its U.S. outpost, and on the retailer’s Web site. Topshop’s London flagship will have the most spacious display, carving out 400 square feet for the cosmetics lines, said Mary Homer, Topshop managing director. All doors will carry the lip and nail products. Topshop has about 300 doors and 140 franchise locations, globally.

The core collection is 97 stockkeeping units strong and is designed to mix whimsical design with bold color. Pencil-like doodles decorate putty-colored packaging and the black outer carton features an illustration of the product inside, designed by Sarah Thorne, Topshop graphic and packaging designer.

“It’s playful, almost like the Topshop girl drew it herself,” said Lizzie Dawson, a Topshop designer who led the line’s in-house development. Topshop tapped Intercos to manufacture the products.

Topshop plans to augment the core line four to six times a year with the trend range, a collection of about 16 items, that Homer described as, “more adventurous.”

Dawson said, “The core line offers the Topshop girl this brilliant range where she can get her staples. But, we also wanted to offer something exclusive, the trend line, that was not available on the high street.”

Topshop’s consulting makeup artist Hannah Murray, who works with the retailer on its ad campaigns, used items from both ranges backstage at Unique, the retailer’s premium line, which was shown in London Saturday.

“We really pushed it,” said Murray of the “woodland brownies,” beauty look. She used Skin Tint to warm skin and Tint on cheeks for a “weathered” effect, and applied gold paint on the inner corer of the eye and down the bridge of the nose.

“It’s everything you’d want in a range, but in a bold and confident way. It comes from people who are very passionate about fashion,” said Murray. She continued, “Women are getting so much more experimental with makeup. There aren’t any rules any more. This line sits well with Topshop’s fashion sense.”

Dawson, whose design experience at Topshop includes lingerie and blouses, said the lines were designed to trumpet color. “We really nailed the colors,” she said, noting that many shades were influenced by Topshop clothing and accessories. For instance, the cement-colored nail polish shade, The Big Smoke, nods to the smoky leather used for some Topshop’s shoes. And, while designing blouses Dawson became enamoured with a “strong lavender,” which she incorporated into a kohl eyeliner.

“Color is the absolute ultimate. We have to get it right,” declared Dawson. “If [shoppers] can’t afford a new outfit, then they will go for a new nail polish.”

The lines center on color cosmetics, and the sheer formulas of Skin Tint and Skin Glow are the closest they get to face foundations or powders.

Topshop has dabbled with cosmetics before, introducing a limited, store-branded range in the mid-Nineties, which it shelved about 15 years ago. One Topshop store, the Oxford Street location, currently carries Barry M cosmetics.

When the retailer began developing the upcoming ranges two years ago, “We started from scratch,” said Homer.

Items in the core line range from a $8 eye pencil to the $20 Skin Tint. Trend items, which include false eyelashes, are priced about 10 percent higher, said Homer.

Marketing efforts will rely on in-store events and the Internet. The retailer will host pod casts of Murray giving makeup tutorials on, which gets 1.5 million hits weekly, according to Homer.

Asked whether Topshop will export the cosmetics lines beyond its own doors, Homer said, “When we look at the full potential of cosmetics, then yes it would be nice to think we could expand the line externally.”

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