Gucci has finally launched its much-anticipated first cosmetics line, just in time for the season of the smoky eye and red statement lip. And this collection was totally worth the wait -- it is a looker.
Gucci's creative director, Frida Giannini, tapped legendary makeup artist and P&G's Global Creative Design Director, Pat McGrath, to bring the collection to life. Giannini began by raiding 90 years of Gucci archives and brought fabric samples to McGrath. They identified the colors the brand is calling the "Iconic Six": gold, black, red, ottanio (a peacock-teal blue), bronze and copper, which anchor the 200+-piece collection.
Gucci wants you to consider the individual pieces as accessories, so the packaging reflects this. (Giannini used to design accessories for the house before she was appointed creative director.) The double G logo is embossed on everything, including the makeup itself. All the pieces, which are packaged in shiny black and gold, have a nice heft to them. (Except the mascara -- it's not the potential weapon that, say, Diorshow mascara is.)
So, let's get down to the products. Pretty packaging is one thing, but how do they stack up? First of all, you have plenty of color choices. There are dozens of eye shadow colors (packaged as singles, duos and quads), five eye liner pencils, one liquid liner, a volumizing mascara, almost 50 lipstick colors, 18 glosses and 24 nail lacquers. For the face, there are 18 foundation shades with SPF 25, in addition to powders, bronzers, powder blushes, a brush-type concealer (a la Touche Eclat) and a primer. Skin care offerings are slim right now -- the line offers a cleansing water, toner and lightweight moisturizer -- but there's more to come in the future. The products range in price from $29 for a nail polish to $79 for a powder brush, making the line comparably priced to other designer beauty ranges.
The products perform beautifully and have some unique properties. The line was designed to stay on your face, first and foremost. The pencil liner goes on like fine Italian silk, but you need to do your smudging and arranging within 30 seconds because once it dries, it is not moving. I did a quickie tightliner, and because it's so smooth, it needed very little "fixing" afterwards. The deeply pigmented shadows are buildable, but are not meant to be used wet. You should be able to get the payoff you need with a few coats. My favorite color in the collection is "Iconic Gold," which is a green-gold and super flattering. I smoked up my entire eye with that and it was really pretty, without too much sparkle. The mascara, which volumizes gently with multiple applications, features molded bristles. It's a good start, but other lines generally carry several different mascaras.
And speaking of payoff, the lipstick is a winner. It's a one-swipe-and-done type of formula. The primer was promising, but unfortunately I didn't get a chance to play with the foundation on my face. On the models at the press presentation, it looked dewy and skinlike -- not too matte.
Finally, the nail polish is impressive so far. I'm on day three of "Iconic Red" with very little chipping; plus a friend of mine said to me, "That nail polish makes you look rich." So that's something.
During the press presentation, I got the sense Gucci wants this collection to be in the same category as a "makeup artist line." They kept comparing it to a line that they wouldn't name. (I suspect it's Nars.) But I think it's more appropriate to compare it to its fellow Italians' makeup ranges: Armani and Dolce & Gabbana. And really, it fits nicely in between Armani's sleek minimalism and D&G's sometimes over-the-top flashiness. (Remember the green lipstick?) But it remains to be seen where Gucci will find its niche. Armani has its cult-favorite Maestro foundation and some fabulous red lipsticks. Dolce & Gabbana likes to promote fashion-y, trendy colors, and the brand just released a high tech new skin care range. I think the eye makeup and lipstick could become Gucci's signatures. It should be noted that D&G Beauty is also owned by P&G Prestige, so surely the company is looking for ways to differentiate the two brands. It will definitely be fun to see what else Gucci releases.