DIEGO DALLA PALMA: BUON GIORNO, BENDEL’S

Byline: Alev Aktar

NEW YORK — In Italy, Diego Dalla Palma is a household name.
But here it’s a different story, and the 47-year-old Milan-based makeup artist plans to introduce his signature line in the American market slowly and carefully.
Back home, Dalla Palma hosts a weekly radio show, where people call in for tips on everything from blush brushes to interior decoration. He also has a monthly TV show about beauty and image issues.
In addition, Dalla Palma writes weekly and monthly beauty columns for six fashion magazines, has written six books about beauty and has starred in several videos.
That’s on top of his business activities: Dalla Palma develops new products for his signature makeup and treatment lines, gives classes at his makeup school in Milan, and oversees his three beauty stores in Italy as well as licensed accessory and ready-to-wear lines.
Now, Dalla Palma is set to bring his makeup line to the U.S. The brand will make its debut late this month exclusively at the Henri Bendel flagship on Fifth Avenue in New York. It will also be sold via Bendel’s 800 number. The collection will be distributed by LPI, a New York-based firm headed by Francesco Borghese, former president of Orlane USA.
The plan is to roll out slowly to other Bendel stores around the country and then enlarge distribution to other specialty stores for a total of not more than 20 doors, according to Betsy Olum, senior vice president of marketing at LPI.
While LPI executives declined to discuss numbers, industry sources estimate that the line could generate more than $1 million at retail in its first year.
The makeup collection, called Diego Dalla Palma Makeup Studio, will be sold in a Color Studio format similar to his stores in Italy. The setup consists of a sleek black and white decor, oversized makeup mirrors, consumer-friendly tester units and at least two makeup stations in a back room where customers are given free makeup lessons.
According to Olum, all the makeup artists will be personally trained by Dalla Palma.
To promote the line, LPI will concentrate on sampling. In addition, Henri Bendel will send out direct mail pieces, and Dalla Palma will make in-store appearances at least once a season to give makeup lessons.
Like many makeup artists, Dalla Palma doesn’t introduce seasonal color statements, but instead adds new products, colors and textures as he sees fit. The line consists of nearly 300 stockkeeping units, including three types of lipstick, four types of foundation, 69 shades of shadow that can be used either on cheeks or eyes, and 11 shades of nail enamel. Overall, the shades are wearable neutrals, rather than bold brights.
The line also contains several unusual products like spray makeup fixer that is vaporized on the face to set makeup and spray eyebrow fixer to keep unruly brows in place.
Price points will be along the lines of rival Bobbi Brown Essentials, with lipsticks retailing for $15 each, eye shadow priced at $19.50 and cream foundation going for $35.
Two fragrances are being introduced at the same time as the makeup: Diego Dalla Palma Profumo for women and Aqualambara for men.
Next spring, Dalla Palma’s treatment line, Base MKS, will be added to the lineup. Late next year, a second, lower-priced makeup line with refills, called Diego Dalla Palma Il Make-Up, will be introduced.
Dalla Palma’s beauty lines, which also include sun care and body care, currently rack up global ex-factory sales of about $8.6 million (15 billion lire) at current exchange rates, according to a spokesman for the company.
That number is exclusive of royalties from licensed businesses, which include glasses, underwear, bags and ready-to-wear.
Dalla Palma holds a minority stake in the company, and the remainder is owned by private investors.
Dalla Palma generates 85 percent of his sales in Italy, where the products are sold in his stores, about 600 perfumeries and leading department stores.

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