Most cosmetics companies employ supermodels to advertise their products — few, if any, actually allow those models to create them. That’s a trend Lancôme is bucking with a new color cosmetics collection created by Daria Werbowy, one of the faces of the powerhouse brand.
Werbowy has created a three-stockkeeping-unit, limited edition collection that will be sold to benefit Centro Espacial Vik Muniz. The center, based in Rio de Janeiro, provides arts programs, education and training for young people from that city in an effort to keep kids off the streets and keep them away from gangs and drugs.
“This collection is a true expression of modern femininity, and it was really Daria’s passion that inspired the project,” said Odile Roujol, global president of Lancôme. “She truly believes in this cause and in fact, Daria shared her desire to help children the very first time we met her.”
Werbowy’s collection, which consists of a $42 eye shadow quad, a $24 lip gloss and a $26 lipstick, will begin to roll out in April 2008 globally and is a Sephora exclusive, except in countries where the beauty giant is absent. For instance, in Germany it will be exclusive to Douglas, while in the U.K. it will be exclusive to Selfridges.
“We are extremely pleased to be the exclusive retailer of the Daria Werbowy Collection for Lancôme — our first exclusive collection [with the brand],” said Betsy Olum, senior vice president of marketing for Sephora. “Daria has a wonderful creative flair and awareness of social responsibility — both of which are evident in this collection. We are confident our clients will be as excited about this collection as we are.”
“Daria has a true passion for the charity, which we were very impressed by,” said Eric Lauzat, president of Lancôme in the U.S., who added that Werbowy had long been eager for a project she could call her own. “Also, at Lancôme, our spokespeople don’t just appear in ads. They are also brand ambassadors.” For instance, Elettra Rossellini Wiedemann was the inspiration behind Lancôme’s eco-chic initiative with Carbonfund.org earlier this year, Lauzat noted. “[Our spokespeople] are a new generation — they are very invested in philanthropic ventures, and it’s important to us to be corporately involved in philanthropy, also.”
Werbowy learned of the center, named for the Brazilian artist who also has a studio in Brooklyn, through the Lancôme team on a brand-related trip to Brazil. “We arrived and the next thing I knew I was in a huge airplane hangar watching a samba music and dance performance put on by the center’s students,” she recalled. “The kids did everything — the choreography, costumes, dancing and music. It was incredible to see something that they put together and were so passionate about.”
With the help of a translator, Werbowy heard about the kids’ paintings and sculptures, learned some samba dance moves and did some portrait drawings. The experience, she said, affirmed for her how universal the art process can be. “You don’t need a shared language to express an idea or an emotion,” she said.
Inspired by the kids and the colors she saw in Brazil, Werbowy headed into the Lancôme labs near Paris, armed with a scrapbook packed with colors and fabrics she liked, and spent a day learning about the makeup creation process. Next, Lancôme let her loose in the labs, although the process wasn’t quite what Werbowy was expecting. She said she expected a chaotic science lab straight out of Hollywood, but found a quiet, organized space —which, she said with a laugh, she managed to mess up, tout de suite.
Werbowy began by mixing pigments, then graduated to adding pearl to eye shadows and learning techniques to make lipsticks more opaque or translucent — something that the former art student had a blast with. “I started to appreciate red lipstick and other makeup colors I generally don’t wear,” she said. “You can spend days creating one shade — I didn’t really realize the extent of color creation before. But I loved the immediacy of being able to mix and then try things right away, and I got to keep mixing and changing them until they were perfect.”
So, are there other beauty creation products in Werbowy’s future? Don’t rule it out. While Lauzat said no firm decisions have been made, the possibility exists that the collection could be a perennial fund-raiser for the center, and that additional sku’s could be added in the future. Werbowy is firmly behind that idea, saying that she doesn’t want her creation to be a one-time offering. “I don’t want it to be a marketing tool — I want it to evolve and to grow in the future,” she said. “It is really about bringing a different kind of beauty to people.”