Why Are Designer Brands Making Their Foray into Beauty?

In the wake of Celine's news about their soon-to-be-released perfume collection, we ask what makes the beauty world so attractive for brands to explore.

Earlier this week, French fashion house Celine teased its upcoming perfume collection, Haute Parfumerie. The news stirred much excitement within the beauty industry and Celine fans could barely hold still.

One Instagram post reads, “The Celine Haute Parfumerie Collection recaptures Hedi Slimane's masculine-feminine stylistic codes. The faceted accords and compositions in the collection deliberately make no distinction or separation between traditional masculine and feminine notes. They harmonize or blend together in a continuous questioning of identities.” 

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Celine's last fragrance collection was back in 1964. This perfume drop will be the brand’s very first foray into beauty in a very long time, and it follows the trail of other designer brands that have dipped its toes in the beauty world. Albeit, in a very unconventional way. 

Last May 2019, the fabulously offbeat, Alessandro Michele-led Gucci brand released a lipstick collection with a whopping number of 58 different shades. The line reimagined Old Hollywood glamour into the 21st century. The collection’s promotional material swept through social media and websites across the globe and had fashion fans craving for Gucci’s unconventional take on beauty. Photos reflected Michele’s aesthetic of colorful sartorial savages who always seem to have just ransacked their grandmother’s closet. Gucci Beauty’s photographs definitely walked the same tightrope.

The images featured non-stereotypical models: gap teeth, crazy makeup, and an otherworldly vibe. Model Dani Miller (as seen below) is photographed alongside the caption, “For the bold, the bright, and the beautiful.” Gucci Beauty’s campaign solidifies the brand’s implied advocacy of embracing individuality, no matter how unconventional or gender-bending that would be. If Gucci stands for granny-dressing for anyone and everyone, then why not do the same with beauty?

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Of course, this kind of deviance from the norm isn’t new. Globally successful beauty brand Fenty Beauty, launched by Rihanna, made waves not only in the beauty industry but in the rest of the world. Her diversity-embracing cosmetics line, which carried 40+ shades, had women (and men) of color craving for more and cheering Rihanna’s name.

It turns out that Fenty Beauty was just the thing the world needed. The brand’s campaigns were fronted by women and men of different ethnicities and body shapes. According to i-D Vice, Fenty's parent company LVMH had reportedly earned profits of 17 percent. Additionally, department store Harvey Nichols proclaimed that the Fenty launch was its most successful one to date. Such an overwhelming response reveals how the beauty industry might have overlooked—or quite frankly, greatly overlooked—the categorical importance of inclusivity and diversity. In a world where tall, lean, skinny, and fair are "ideal" characteristics (to name a few), it is evident that people are longing to disintegrate this archaic perspection of beauty.

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Celine, Gucci Beauty, and Fenty Beauty's intersecting principles of inclusivity and diversity are just the tip of an emerging iceberg.

Recently, YSL just launched a lipstick line created by Zoë Kravitz. The ‘cool girl’ and daughter of musician Lenny Kravitz and actress Lisa Bonet has been posting teasers on her Instagram account. According to Refinery29, the Big Little Lies actress came up with everything from the packaging right down to the lipstick names.

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Zoë Kravitz has been YSL’s global and fragrance ambassador since 2017. She was the face of the brand’s Opium fragrance, but this is the first time the cool girl is taking on a role as big and impactful as this. Kravitz got to write her own beauty story through the French brand. And, given her mixed ethnicity, there is a chance that YSL is looking to be more than just that classy French heritage brand. It might as well be a stepping stone for the brand to make itself known to a larger and much younger audience.

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Refinery29 also reports that Kravitz hopes her little collection inspires others to be themselves: "I don’t want to use makeup to cover myself up…I want to use it to enhance the things that I love about myself. I hope other people are encouraged to do the same." 

It seems that ultimately, Kravitz wants consumers to be bold and brave, in the same way that Celine, Gucci, and Fenty encourage their users to break barriers through beauty.

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Evidently, these brands are just a handful among others who are shaping themselves up to be more relevant to consumers. And we're pretty sure that there will be more to come. In a business sense, these steps towards social relevance have proven to be great strategies. According to Paper Magazine, “The consumer base for luxury clothing and accessories is limited, but even at a relatively high price point, beauty remains more accessible to a wider audience.” Not everyone can afford a designer bag, but when it comes to a tube of lipstick, people are willing to shell out a little extra dollar for an immediate luxury fix.

No matter how spot-on a beauty foray is for fashion brands, there's no denying that there is more to it than surefire business growth. These brands were able to make themselves relevant again not only because of their profits but because of their contributions to the larger narrative at hand. They simply adapted to changing times, to a world where individuality and inclusivity reign supremeand beauty was the perfect business avenue for that.


Celine and YSL may be off on the right foot, but as for their respective successes and their impact on the modern beauty narrative, only time will tell.

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Nicole Cruz
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