Face Value

I found out today (via Twitter of course!) that the product line created by iconic American makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin (who passed away 10 years ago), has been launched in the UK for the first time and is now available at the mecca of premium beauty that is Space NK. This was heartening news because I have had a deep admiration for Aucoin and his handiwork – which is nothing short of spectacular – for a number of years, after purchasing his bestselling book, Face Forward.   Even at first glance, the cover demonstrates Aucoin’s approach to beauty as he morphs a black and white woman into one incredible portrait.  I was awed by his sheer talent; there is no denying that this man has a gift.  His ability to transform was simply breathtaking and page after page of the book pays homage to the artisan that he was. From the onset of his career he has been a champion of beauty for all women, all ages, all races and at the age of 32, Aucoin launched a revolutionary line of makeup whilst he was the Creative Director at Revlon.  It was 1993.   The New Nakeds (later renamed The Nakeds) was a groundbreaking line that was a strong counterpoint to cosmetics available at the time.   The editor of Allure magazine says of the line: “It may not seem like it now, but it was a powerful moment. Before, there were makeup lines for white women and others for black women. But he worked to design makeup for all skin tones. The idea was to empower a woman by revealing her natural beauty, and not to cover her up with layers of product.” Kevyn went on to create his own line in 2001. He worked with many leading black female celebrities including Tina Turner, Janet Jackson, Grace Jones, Naomi Campbell, Mary J Blige and the late Whitney Houston

Kevyn and Janet Jackson. Photograph by Jean-Baptiste Mondino. Published in Vogue,January 1996.

Here are some images of his creations.

Kevyn Aucoin 1962 – 2002

Tina Turner as Cleopatra (Face Forward, 2000)

Naomi Campbell for Allure magazine (1991)

Aucoin gives Janet Jackson a golden glow for the cover of 5th album, Janet, shot by Patrick Demarchelier (1993).

Janet and Michael Jackson. Scream video. 1995.

Whitney Houston in Bazaar. Kevyn Aucoin was a genius, way ahead of his time both in terms of his makeup techniques for black women, and for pioneering nude makeup - this shot is from 1989. Shot by Bob Frame.

Jenny from the block - all fresh faced for launch of debut album

Advertisements

British Beauty – Going for Gold

Olympic fever is certainly hotting up!

As mentioned in my previous blog  I am really excited about the year ahead – and the impending Olympic Games is a major reason for this!

I was selected to be an official Games Maker in December last year, which absolutely made my day!!  I truly believe that the Games will have a lasting legacy on London and on the nation and I am humbled to have been given a chance to be involved.

My first training session is in February….will let you know how it goes!!

*******

In November last year the global FMCG company Proctor and Gamble (P&G), owners of  brands such as Olay, Pantene, Ariel, Pampers,  Max Factor and Gillette, announced that it will be supporting 11  British athletes leading up to and during the London 2012 Games and these athletes will act as ambassadors  for the company.

P&G's Olympic Ambassadors

The selection includes the incredibly talented female athletes Jeanette Kwakye, Keri-Anne Payne, Victoria Pendleton, Paula Radcliffe, Jessica Ennis  and Jenna Randall.

Yesterday, Pantene, Olay and Max Factor announced partnerships with cyclist Victoria Pendleton, pentathlon champion Jessica Ennis and swimmer Keri-Anne Payne respectively.

Victoria Pendleton, Keri-Anne Payne and Jessica Ennis MBE

All 3 athletes are worthy role models and are indeed beautiful women.  I was particularly thrilled to see that Jessica Ennis (MBE) will be the face of Olay.

Ennis is of a mixed heritage background, the offspring of a Jamaican father and English mother.  In a week where race relations in Britain is again front page news – with the conviction and sentencing of  two of the murderers of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence dominating the headlines-  I hope that Ennis’ partnership with Olay will serve to remind the nation that unity and cohesion can be and is a hallmark of our society and that we should not let the negative incidences overshadow this important fact.

However….I do have to admit that I was a little disappointed to see that 100m sprinter Jeanette Kwyake  was not a part of the beauty ambassador group – after all Black women wash their hair, moisturise their skin and wear mascara too!

Jeanette Kwakye - Going for Gold

In fact, according to the market research agency Mintel,  British women of ethnic origin spend up to 7 times more on cosmetics and toiletries that her Caucasian counterpart.  A report published by the agency in 2009, stated that the market for Black or Asian beauty products in the UK remains a niche one, valued at £70m, or just 2% of the total market for women’s haircare, skincare and makeup, well below their percentage of the population. This is blamed partly on the fact that there is a “lack of commitment by mainstream companies to ethnic beauty needs”.

The report also identified that a lack of advertising spend and use of models that represent this market was a source of frustration for women of colour .  In my eyes P&G missed a perfect opportunity to demonstrate that it is in touch with the needs of its consumers and to lead the way in showcasing the beauty of the multicultural Britain that we all reside in.

What are your thoughts?  Let me know!