Margaret Hayes, president of The Fashion Group International (FGI), recently welcomed attendees to New York’s Time-Life Building for a presentation on Spring/Summer 2009 color cosmetics collections, sponsored by MAC and Cotton, Inc., which offered an inside view of the current beauty scene. MaryLou Luther, creative director, FGI, kept the discussion on point, as it related market fluctuations, the persistence of fashion and its redefinition and convergences in a volatile economy.
Geometric prints, grids, graphs, dots and stripes were evident on the runways, where unexpected couplings of high and low pairings, hippie chic and Hollywood glamour, safari gear, ponchos and gaucho looks by Gaultier, made the season’s “imaginative amalgamations” part of the new “fashion conglomerate,” according to Luther. Beauty focused on red lips in matte or high gloss, smoky eyes and brow treatments—from concealed and invisible to filled-in and elongated. Michael Kors showed blush and glossy red lips; Zac Posen featured pink frosted lips and shimmery blush; and hair was predominantly long and center-parted, or arranged in up-dos or pony tails. Tribal tributes were also popular in hairstyles.
FGI’s panel discussion illuminated the perspectives of Simon Doonan, special guest moderator and creative director, Barney’s, and panelists, which included Linda Dresner, president, Linda Dresner, Inc.; Sally Singer, fashion news and features director, Vogue, Stephanie Solomon, vice president and fashion director, Bloomingdale’s; Amy Synnott, beauty director, InStyle; and Sandra Wilson, accessories fashion director, Neiman Marcus. Synnott discussed cosmetic use in a down economy, alluding to Leonard Lauder’s reference to “The Lipstick Index,” in which consumers purchase significant quantities of lipstick, especially in difficult economic times. “Lipstick sales had plummeted in September 2008 and have now skyrocketed,” she said.
The economy was center stage during the discussion, with Synnott, noting, “People are really buying wearable neutrals in beauty, like the version of lipstick that is ‘the little black dress’ of lipstick. They are buying a lot less of the ‘out there’ colors. Classic looks are strong.” She also discussed the existence of two color extremes, with the no makeup, muted lip look, which she called “the depression face,” and over-the-top, vivid colors. “I liked the happy medium,” she said, “with a beautiful smoky eye and pale lips.”
“In retail, we need to think very carefully about how we’re trying to present, with the high and the low of our offerings, and edit carefully as we all become more price conscious,” Dresner said.
Doonan added that Barney’s is communicating with consumers on a level beyond fashion. “We want to do bigger things in the culture that resonate with people,” he said. “For example, this is the 40th anniversary of the peace sign, and Barney’s is nurturing a peace and love holiday.”