Statement pieces


It ain’t what you state it’s the way that you state it, and that’s what gets results... says Jonathan Ford

It ain’t what you state it’s the way that you state it, and that’s what gets results... says Jonathan Ford

In a bid to get up close and personal to the consumer, the chatty brand hit the spot and nowhere was this better evidenced than in personal care. But as chatter has got ever louder and brands now fight for space in an increasingly global market, bold brands are taking the plunge to move us in a new direction and make a statement. But what statements are they making?

The obvious place to start is of course with naming. Hitting the shelves in September 2010, Lanvin’s new Marry Me! fragrance is very much a statement and not a question. But, as with many of the chatty brands, the packaging seems an afterthought with visual expression really only focused on the name. And from Spain, a hair care range – aptly called Hair Care Expressions – has refreshed its packaging to target the young consumer. The abstract shapes and bright colours mixed with facial expressions are eye catching but mean nothing without the corresponding naming which invites consumers to try something new through an action (‘Put your hands up in the air’) or pick-up line (‘I am gonna rock your world’).

Cosmetics has always been a dedicated follower of fashion, but right now it’s becoming increasingly difficult to work out just who’s leading whom. Are we matching our lipstick to our shoes or buying shoes to match our lipstick? Buying a lipstick to go with our jeans if Lipstick Queen’s new Jean Queen, with ‘a sheer pink tint to offset the denim in your jeans’, is anything to go by.

A new bag (yet to come to market) is inspired by the form of a Chroma lipstick tube whilst much awaited this autumn is the advent of Dior’s Minaudiere, French for a small ornamental clutch and an oh so stylish way to carry Dior’s new eye colours for Winter 2010.

And on the subject of bags... thanks to the power of celebrity we probably hear more about the desirability of the statement bag, with its month-long waiting lists, than any other fashion item. But what is the cosmetic equivalent? There probably hasn’t been one... until now. Crème de la Mer started the whole price debate but once the bar was raised, the field was open for new contenders. The beauty halls of Selfridges, Liberty and Harrods all stock creams with a £300 plus price tag, but nothing compares to Perricone’s Private Reserve Serum, launched last month with a whopping £595 for 30ml.

Yes, Dr Perricone is the feted beauty expert du jour, but does more expensive necessarily mean better? Are we forgetting No7’s Protect and Perfect? Private Reserve is assuming the moniker – and associated kudos – of maybe a fine and limited edition wine. But unlike a statement bag that’s (hopefully) a classic and covetable item for many years and may even look better with age, we are trying to keep age at bay with expensive creams that we have to shell out for over and over again. And looks-wise, the matt black packaging echoes its premium exclusivity, but quite frankly it’s nothing special and certainly not special enough to match the corresponding price per application. I can’t comment on just how good the product is but surely price point alone is not enough to create the required consumer desire, though it is also a limited edition.

<i>Plaid-embossed Burberry lipsticks and innovative compacts from Kjaer Weis are more than just fashion statements, says Ford</i>

Plaid-embossed Burberry lipsticks and innovative compacts from Kjaer Weis are more than just fashion statements, says Ford

It’s not about making a fashion statement just for the sake of it. And this is where Burberry is getting it right with the launch of its first foray into make-up. The mission statement of the Burberry beauty line is to be for your make-up bag what the brand’s iconic trench is to your wardrobe: a reliable staple that never goes out of style.

Christopher Bailey (Burberry’s chief creative director) has designed the collection to be everything you’d expect from the heritage British brand. Classic, sophisticated colours with hues of natural khaki, stormy grey and steely navy, amazing textures, sleek packaging.

From the lust-worthy, plaid-embossed lipsticks to the shiny, gunmetal compacts and the genius magnetic closures (so it won’t pop open in a bag) this line is truly luxurious, and worth every penny of its relatively steep price tag.

From a brand design point of view, we do tend to focus on graphics, colour and copy – and particularly naming – whilst structure often doesn’t get the air-time it deserves.

Shape and structure can convey just as much personality as chatty copy or quirky graphics. And whilst the Minaudiere et al do have their place, there is one new cosmetics brand putting the focus back firmly on the innovative and differentiating power of the structure.

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The packaging for Kjaer Weis distils the fundamentals of women’s make-up to its three essential areas of application: lips, cheeks and eyes. The compacts are shaped to mirror the features they will be used to enhance: slim and long for the lips, large and square for the cheeks, small and round for the eyes. The compacts also swivel open with an innovative lateral movement. Organic, refillable, recyclable, textured, space-saving, clean... the list just goes on... a brand with a clear, true and innovative statement of intent beautifully and differently expressed on very many levels.