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Live From New York

By: Nancy Jeffries
Posted: June 17, 2008

page 7 of 9

On May 8, 2008 Cosmetic Executive Women hosted A Conversation with Carol Hamilton, president, L’Oréal, Paris, as part of its Women in Beauty Series, held at New York City’s Harmonie Club. Sabine Feldman, vice president and publisher of Shape magazine and sponsor of the event began the evening by noting the importance of beauty in our daily lives. Citing a recent Shape survey, she mentioned 45% of women indicated they prefer being beautiful to being wealthy, a telling statistic for the crowd of beauty professionals in the audience.

Hamilton is totally passionate about the beauty business, remarking that in order to experience what it felt like to be a brunette, blonde and redhead, she experimented with each shade to help her understand “the power of hair color.” Growing up in California during the 60s, she knew every shade of lipstick at the corner drugstore and could identify them by name at a glance. After graduating from Vassar, Hamilton worked at Grey Advertising, where she was first introduced to beauty client accounts. She worked for 12 creatives at Grey and developed her passion for advertising. When she joined L’Oréal 24 years ago, she had come to view beauty in a broad social context. “It’s about how women see themselves in the landscape, in the culture. It is so multi-faceted,” she said.

She noted that passion, confidence and energy are essential attributes for a career in beauty, though one really has to love the business. “Everyone should believe in themselves. You need to decide you want to master every aspect of the business, especially the financial side. You have to learn to love the P&L’s as much as the lipstick shades,” said Hamilton. She noted the three new L’Oréal products that currently “wow” her, citing Infallible Lipstick, SkinGenesis Multilayer Cell Strengthening Serum and Bare Naturale, with its built-in brush.

“At the end of the day, great ideas come from everywhere. I’ve found over the years that your first impression isn’t always right. It doesn’t matter where it was invented, it has to resonate wherever we are,” added Hamilton. “We’re kind of ubiquitous,” she added, “We want to increase the frequency of use and penetration of L’Oréal products around the world.” Hamilton said the company launches something new every six months, citing the importance of getting it right “the first time out of the gate.”

Beauty through the Looking Glass

On May 9, 2008, The Fashion Group International presented a panel discussion on “the state of beauty today,” at New York City’s Hilton Hotel. Sponsored by Elle magazine, Estée Lauder Companies and Givaudan, the presentation highlighted the ways in which consumers are forcing the industry to rethink the rules. Caroline Pieper-Vogt, senior vice president of marketing for Clarins, welcomed the audience, saying, “Beauty today is not what you thought. The game is different and the rules are not the same.”