SEPHORA TO CLIMB ON THE CATWALK

Byline: Julie Naughton

NEW YORK — After watching how avidly beauty writers studied — and predicted trends from — the cosmetics looks coming down the fashion runway, Sephora decided to do something about it: Offer what is likely to be the first-ever beauty runway show.
The show — scheduled for Feb.15 at 10 a.m. in the Studio at the Bryant Park Tents — will feature the fall 2001 cosmetics visions of about 15 Sephora vendors, including Stila, Lorac, Christian Dior, Givenchy and Urban Decay.
Sephora has been the sole beauty sponsor for the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) since fall 2000, which set the necessary groundwork for the show, noted Betsy Olum, senior vice president of marketing for Sephora and Sephora.com. “We hope that this is the beginning of a long partnership with the CFDA,” said Olum. “In fact, we’d originally hoped to introduce this concept last fall — until we realized that it required absolutely extraordinary coordination and planning to make it look effortless.”
To that end, Sephora hired Fly Productions, which also produces fashion runway shows, to help coordinate the beauty version. The necessary planning will include handling more than 70 models, Olum said. “Each of the companies will have the chance to show up to four looks, and unlike a fashion show, you can’t just strip the makeup off of a girl’s face and throw other stuff on there fast,” she said. “So each look will likely have to be presented on a different model.”
Another challenge may come in showing makeup looks on the runway, as the subtle nature of cosmetics requires a closer look than clothing. Olum hinted that big-screen TVs might be part of the show’s setup, although she said that is still being debated.
The retailer will continue the initiatives it introduced at last fall’s shows, including issuing trend reports and operating a booth offering makeovers and touch-ups. In fact, Sephora hopes to expand the booth’s services for show attendees, said Olum.
“We have a great lineup of brands — so many it was difficult to narrow it down to those that are participating, in fact — and we thought this would be a great opportunity to showcase some of their trend forecasts,” said Olum, adding that well-known faces, including Frederic Fekkai and Carol Shaw of Lorac, have already signed on to be part of the show. “So many times, beauty is an afterthought at these shows, and we wanted to give these brands the chance to help define makeup looks for the next season.” Also, she said, it will benefit the bricks-and-mortar business. “We’d like to tie this show into our marketing in-store, online and in our catalog,” she said. “Because of this show, we can come back and make it meaningful to our customer — it positions Sephora as a beauty authority.”
“I hope we’ll do these shows every season,” said Olum. “And Sephora is a good choice for them because our core concept is about democracy. We’re not one cosmetics brand coming in here to dictate one look.”

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