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Licensing in Color: Movie-inspired Makeup

By: Charu Suri and Ron Robinson
Posted: April 6, 2010, from the April 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.
Photo courtesy of HCT Packaging

Makeup brand owners have embraced movies and tapped into their blockbuster potential. Photo courtesy of HCT Packaging.

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“The shades we chose for the Alice Palette were inspired by both the outdoor natural world that Alice explores along with by the surreal elements that pop up throughout the story,” says Wende Zomnir, Urban Decay’s creative director and co-founder. Urban Decay ended up with a palette that balanced beautiful neutral tones with bright pops of color. A few colors were directly inspired by characters in the film—the blue Alice shade, for example, was inspired by the blue of Alice’s dress; Absolem, the name of the caterpillar, is a cool iridescent green shade; Chessur, the Cheshire cat, is a distinctively feline shade. The tempting titles and shades cement the consumer interest. OPI created a four-SKU collection of shimmering nail lacquers: Absolutely Alice, a blue glitter; Thanks So Muchness, a red shimmer; Off With Her Red, a vivid red, and Mad as a Hatter, a black multiglitter shade.

Avatar, which has become the highest grossing film of all time, has led makeup companies such as Milani Cosmetics to launch an eponymous line. The result is a 3D makeup line that includes a nail polish, a lip gloss and eye shadow, all of which will have 3D effects through holographic and light-reflecting properties. And, naturally, the shades will predominantly be blue to reflect the glowing, iridescent colors of the movie’s Na’vi tribe.

Avon, too, tapped into Avatar actress Zoe Saldana (who played Na’vi princess Neytiri) as the face of its new fragrance, Eternal Magic, in which the rare Princess Monaco Rose is the key note.

The Future of Makeup Licensing

Suffice to say, the surface of the movie and makeup marriage has just barely been scratched. As 3D goes mainstream, expect to see versions of makeup that transcend high-definition and Blu-ray quality. As movies become increasingly more graphic-rich and intensely pigmented, it’s natural to see these colors acquire a life of their own and become packaged in paint pots, eye shadows and lipsticks.

There is a history of runway to reality; now it’s the time for the silver screen to inspire the makeup bag. But licensing deals, as noted, need to have several ingredients to get the perfect, consumer-approved recipe. First, the quality of the movie has to be inspirational and award-worthy. For instance, no consumer would want to wear makeup products based on the films of Ed Wood, the infamous B-movie director.