Byline: Kerry Diamond

NEW YORK — With every obscure makeup artist aspiring to be the next Bobbi Brown, the makeup artist category is seriously saturated. And with all the new lines vying for space and attention, one has to wonder whether the trend is getting tired.
Actually, manufacturers and retailers say the category has transcended trendiness to become a permanent part of the industry.
“We’re here to stay,” promised Vincent Longo. “We created our own niche in the marketplace, and we continue to be a link to the worlds of fashion, beauty and celebrity for the customer.”
Of course, it makes sense that Longo, who markets his own line of cosmetics, believes in the viability of the category. But customers and big companies alike continue to clamor for the brands. Beauty bulletin boards are filled with gushing tributes to the likes of Longo, Stila, and Trish McEvoy. And major players can’t get enough of makeup artist brands — as evidenced by last week’s acquisition of Nars by Shiseido.
One makeup artist brand — MAC — has muscled in on territory previously claimed by the major manufacturers. According to NPD BeautyTrends, MAC sold more lipstick in 1999 than any other cosmetics company, marking the first time a makeup artist brand has cracked one of the significant beauty categories.
“The makeup artist brands are alive and well,” noted Ron Robinson of Fred Segal Essentials in Melrose, Calif. His store carries Stila and Lorac and will be adding Paula Dorf in July. “The trend hasn’t burned itself out, and it has allowed for fresh faces to come to the market.”
Elizabeth Genel, the owner of JD’s Cosmetic Essentials, the beauty boutique in Westport, Conn., said the makeup artist lines are extremely important to her bottom line. She carries Bobbi Brown, Laura Mercier and Senna, a line created by the West Coast makeup artist Eugenia Weston. She will start selling Trish McEvoy’s collection this weekend.
“Trish, Laura and Bobbi are so popular,” said Genel. “Women know who they are. They see them on TV. They read about them in magazines. They identify with them.”
Genel admits that she was concerned about where the trend was headed, but she feels the brands are getting better and stronger. “They really have legs,” she said, adding that a Trish McEvoy makeup artist event planned for June sold out in two days.
Smartly, the best makeup artist brands continually reinvent themselves. Stila is expanding into skin care and fragrance, albeit with a twist. The first skin care product is a container of face wipes called h2off, and the fragrance, Aqua Flaunt, is a quartet of dry scented oils.
MAC never seems to stand still, thanks to promotions like Viva Glam, fun color stories like Puppy Love and Huetopia, and an increased presence at fashion shows. The company also isn’t afraid to tinker with its product to make it more timely. In 1998, MAC launched lipstick in a silver bullet case, replacing its basic black case. This year, in response to customer demand, it kept the shape, but changed the color back to black.
As for Bobbi Brown, she broadened her horizons this year with Bobbi Brown ColorOptions, a new line with a younger sensibility and a bolder shade statement than her signature line, Bobbi Brown Essentials. She’s also launching a beauty book for teens later this year.
Newcomers continue to nip at their heels. Later this year, Henri Bendel will add Skin Alison Rafaele, a line created by Bobbi Brown’s first national makeup artist, and Barneys New York will start carrying the collection from Sue Devitt, the former Awake consultant. Also, well-known editorial and runway makeup artists Kevyn Aucoin, Linda Cantello and Pat McGrath are said to be working on their own lines.
Lurking around the corner is a potential new trend that could take some steam out of the makeup artist business: designer lines. Anna Sui and Calvin Klein have already launched makeup lines, and Giorgio Armani will unveil his this fall. Ralph Lauren, DKNY and Jean Paul Gaultier are reportedly working on cosmetics projects, and the Kate Spade cosmetics collection is due in 2001.
Then there is an even smaller emerging trend — the model lines, like the ones Isabella Rossellini and Iman recently launched. Could the Cindy Crawford Collection be far behind?