Byline: Julie L. Belcove

NEW YORK — Barneys New York — which has pieced together a cosmetics department primarily out of small, exclusive lines — is coming out with its own brand of colors, called Look.
Scheduled to be launched next week in all 14 Barneys doors in the U.S., Look appears to be the first in-house makeup brand at a major department or specialty store chain. The collection, heavy in neutral colors, will join a host of trendy lines, such as Stila, Makeup Forever, Poppy, Francois Nars and Shu Umera, that form the mortar of Barneys’ cosmetics floor.
“It’s just going to support all the other lines in the department. It’s not competing,” said Bonnie Pressman, executive vice president at Barneys. “It also gives us a point of difference from other cosmetics departments.”
Barneys executives declined to discuss dollar projections for Look, but industry sources estimated the line will do $2 million to $2.5 million at retail in the first year.
“It’s really a major focus for us and should be able to compete with our best lines,” Pressman said, noting that company executives began to think about doing a Barneys makeup line before the Madison Avenue store opened in September 1993.
“It’s going to be a top brand for us,” added Joyce Avalon, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of cosmetics. “It has the potential, for sure.”
But some in the industry said there’s a reason stores have generally declined to take on the role of cosmetics manufacturer: They lack the expertise in areas such as quality control and supplier relations.
“They’re not equipped to do that,” said Allan Mottus, a cosmetics industry consultant. “I just don’t think it’s going to work out very well. The level of competition in the marketplace — with MAC, Bobbi Brown and Studio Gear — is pretty intense.”
In addition, Mottus said Barneys has yet to prove itself in the cosmetics arena with the lines it has. He added he would give more credence to a store more established in the business, such as Saks Fifth Avenue.
To develop the line, Barneys tapped makeup artist Alan Goolman, whose background includes nine years as national makeup artist for Christian Dior. Avalon said the company wanted a creative consultant whose experience went beyond runway and photographic makeup.
“We wanted somebody used to working with real women,” she said.
Barneys and Goolman, who serves as creative consultant on the project, divided Look into two color palettes — warm and cool — and displayed them in two separate tester units. Goolman said his goal was to simplify color selection for customers.
“You don’t have a coral thrown in with a purple,” he said. “You can’t make a mistake.”
Each palette consists of 25 eye shadows, 12 lipsticks, six blushes, six shades of foundation, four eye pencils and five lip pencils. Rounding out the line are three sheer powders, three shades of concealer, black and brown mascara and a clear lip pencil.
Barneys has pared the eye shadow selection to five shades of intensity for each of 10 basic colors, such as Henna, Taupe and Olive, for a total of 50 options.
“It’s all about tone,” Avalon said. “It’s a little bit more sophisticated, more urban.”
Pressman described the colors as “modern” and “pretty natural.”
“It’s more about highlighting and bringing out your features, what you were born with, than masking over,” she said.
Each eye shadow carries the basic color name, such as Charcoal, and a number 1 through 5, according to its intensity. The other products in the line are designated either Warm or Cool and are also numbered.
“We don’t have fancy names,” Avalon said. “There’s no Sun-Drenched Apricot.”
Barneys settled on the Look brand name, Pressman said, after considering a number of words in French as well as English. Pressman said the word’s clarity and succinctness appealed to her, as did the way it looked in print.
“It’s obvious. It’s kind of hip,” she said.
A single pan compact will retail for $15, and a trio for $40. With other price points ranging from $18 for a lipstick to $30 for a foundation, Avalon said Look falls squarely into Barneys’ price structure.
The packaging is textured charcoal gray with silver interior, and the name Look is printed in tiny capital letters on the outside of the compacts. Barneys went with the gray, Pressman said, to avoid looking like most other makeup artist lines with their black pots and tubes.
She said she also took Barneys’ reputation into consideration when choosing a packaging color, opting to go with the unexpected.
“We’ve always been coined the ‘black store,”‘ she said.
The line’s outer packaging consists of cream-colored boxes; Barneys New York is printed on the back. Look’s debut collection leaves ample room for expansion. It has only one foundation formula, a sheer, oil-free liquid that gives medium coverage. Other manufacturers have a wider assortment of foundations, ranging from light to heavy coverage and from liquids to creams.
Avalon said she plans to introduce more foundation formulas in addition to new brushes. Barneys is merchandising Look as a brush-applied line and is not including sponge applicators in the compacts, as most companies do.
While Barneys may do some sampling of Look, Avalon said the in-store makeup artists’ application advice will be the primary selling tool. Goolman will be training the beauty advisers. Barneys beauty advisers are trained to sell all the cosmetics brands.
“It’s really about servicing the customer,” Pressman said. “It’s not about line identification.”
Pressman said the store is not planning a full-blown advertising campaign. The store, though, began crediting Look in its offbeat illustrated ads several weeks before the launch, and Pressman said Barneys will continue to incorporate the brand in its storewide campaign.
After Look is up and going in the U.S., Pressman said, she hopes Barneys in Japan also will carry the line.
Eventually, she said, the store might consider wholesaling Look in markets without a Barneys presence, as the chain does with its Route de Tea fragrance in London and Paris.
“We haven’t thought that far,” Pressman said. “Right now we’re just in the learning process.”