MILESTONE: 80 YEARS OF LANCOME

Lancome1As a child, I became enchanted with film and spent many nights watching old movies and many moments wondering where and how such glamour happened. In my teens my tastes changed and I became more interested in art films, discovering directors like David Lynch and his movie Blue Velvet. These films intrigued me; the female leads captured my imagination. Isabella Rossellini was by far the most captivating. When I discovered that Isabella was the face of the French beauty brand, Lancome, suddenly glamour seemed to be at my fingertips.

I am not alone in my discovery. Brand ambassadress and Academy Award Winner, Julia Roberts said, “The first thing I remember of any sort of campaign ever as a young women looking to idealize a goddess was Isabella Rossellini doing Lancome. I can see the campaign in my mind so perfectly.”

Lancome2Lancome was a name I had always known from my mother and grandmother. For me, it always represented beauty and elegance, a special occasion, a celebration. The lipsticks and fragrance were like ritualistic parts of a night out. The scent of Magie Noire still brings me back to those childhood moments as I watched the women in my life prepare for a night out. The scent was like a magic potion – famous and fashionable.
Flash-forward a decade and my life had led me to the makeup industry. One of my first positions in the early days at an artistry brand found me working in an upscale department store. There, at the counter next to us, larger than life, was Isabella Rossellini once again, representing the brand I had come to love. There, stimulating my senses were the perfumes and colors that filled my imagination and fueled my childhood creativity.

Originally a fragrance house founded by Armand Petitjean, Lancome launched in 1935 at the World’s Fair in Brussels with an eye toward providing something for women of all tastes living on all continents, with a name inspired by the ruins of a castle, Le Chateau de Lancosme. Petitjean came up with a moniker that he thought echoed French historical names. He dropped the silent ‘s’ for the very French circumflex we all recognize today, making it easy enough for the world to pronounce and at the same time understand that it was undeniably French.

The fragrances were an immediate success and Petitjean followed up with his first foray into luxury skin care in 1936, launching an all-purpose repair cream he called Nutrix, a regenerating night cream that quickly caught on as a cure for everything from sunburns to bee stings. In the ‘50s it was recommended by the British Minister of Defense as a remedy for radiation in the event of a nuclear attack. Nutrix ushered in a new age in skin care where the skin aided in its own protection and healing, changing and influencing the entire industry and setting the standards Lancome still adheres to today.

In 1938, Armand Petitjean bucked trend once more with an eye toward color cosmetics. The trend at the time was for bold, red lipsticks that left the lips stained. Petitjean developed Rose de France, a perfectly pale pink lipstick with a beautifully soft texture that would give women soft and supple lips with just a kiss of color. It was a very sophisticated and sensual product, with a rose fragrance and became Lancome’s number one selling lipstick for the next 30 years.

Lancome3Lancome continued to change the way makeup, skincare and fragrance were developed and marketed and made huge impacts in all three industries, becoming world-renowned for luxury and beauty with benefits. Lancome also became the first makeup brand to train beauty advisers. These elegant and efficient communicators came to represent the Lancome experience and set a tone that influenced the entire industry’s approach to cosmetics sales.

In 1964, Lancome was acquired by L’Oreal. Petitjean knew that L’Oreal would have the financial strength and global presence to put his beloved brand in the hands of women all over the world. His dream of bringing beauty and luxury to the world took shape as L’Oreal helped to cement the Lancome legacy. This year, 2015, Lancome celebrates 80 years of artistry. Now in 163 countries L’Oreal has worked to maintain the spirit and energy of the iconic French brand and the excitement of its creator.

Innovation, creativity and universal luxury are still the cornerstones of Lancome, a brand coveted by both the professional artist and the savvy consumer. With fragrances like Poeme and Tresor, a decades-old hold on the mascara market, a skin care line that is the stuff of legend with a cult following, and a color line that is admired by all.
Today famous faces including Juliette Binoche, Kate Winslet, Anne Hathaway, Julia Roberts, Emma Watson and Lupita Nyong’o, like Isabella Rossellini before them, inspire clients with their international appeal. Makeup artists like Fred Farrugia and many others have represented the brand. Currently, legends like Sandy Linter, and Global Beauty Director, Lisa Eldridge, look to the future, keeping an eye on Lancome’s rich and storied past.

Ambassadress, Kate Winslet, summed up the spirit of the brand beautifully when she said, “Being an ambassadress of Lancome doesn’t feel like a job, it feels like a celebration of women of all these ages that we all are. It is wonderful to be able to be here and to talk about that and to show what we look like, how we are real people and accessible, touchable and lovable.” We couldn’t agree more, and wish Lancome many years to come of making women feel strong, sophisticated and beautiful.

Words James Vincent
Photos provided by Lancome
Ambassadress and La Vie Photos Stephane Feugere

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