- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (December 3, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0684865157
- ISBN-13: 978-0684865157
- Product Dimensions: 4.7 x 0.9 x 8.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.5 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,780,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Color Stories: Behind the Scenes of America's Billion-Dollar Beauty Industry Hardcover – December 3, 2002
From Publishers Weekly
Following a year in the life of a product from concept to counter, former Glamour, Mirabella and InStyle beauty editor Gavenas offers a curious peek behind the closed doors of beauty editors' offices. She exposes the symbiotic relationship between manufacturers and magazines: advertising pays editors' salaries, while casual mentions by editors sell product. Gifts to editors abound for these much coveted credits and range anywhere from flowers to Cartier watches, depending on the quality of the product placement. Though Gavenas touches on some of the darker days of the business, such as blinding chemicals in Lash-Lure, a 1930s mascara substitute that went unregulated for years, most of her book praises the willful self-empowerment of some the country's earliest women entrepreneurs and self-made millionaires. Biographical sketches of make-up moguls include those of Helena Rubenstein, Mary Kay, Elizabeth Arden and Este Lauder. Disappointingly, Gavenas pays highly successful African-American businesswomen Annie Turnbo and Madame C.J. Walker much less attention, squeezing their stories together into barely two and a half pages. Other than moving from door-to-door distribution to department store counters, the industry has changed very little over the years, according to Gavenas. "A century ago, beauty companies were pushing products with the same kind of romantic stories, pretentious promotions, and inspired goofiness that are still working so well." Gavenas effectively captures the attitude of the industry with her descriptions of photo shoots, runways and fabric shows, making this a well-crafted story of a booming industry.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gavenas, former beauty editor for several women's magazines, chronicles the monthly behind-the-scenes process that each year yields new cosmetic looks and products, tracing the route from conception to packaging to the cosmetic counter, while also offering the history of the industry. Highlighting the legends of the business--Estee Lauder, Helena Rubinstein, and Mary Kay Ash--she describes the beauty trade as one of the few avenues historically open to driven and ambitious women, a virtually recession-proof industry earning billions each year. Gavenas also captures the ephemeral nature of the product, the fanciful language and seductive advertising and marketing campaigns, and the strategizing behind the latest look, be it shimmering or "natural." Gavenas covers marketing techniques, including the free makeovers and give-aways intended to lure more customers. She also plumbs the intangibles behind the success of the beauty industry, the fantasies indulged by women yearning for simple, accessible solutions to the pressures of their lives. Women will particularly enjoy this look behind the scenes. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
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The book is an easy, entertaining read. I finished within a couple of evenings. Behind the scenes business material is potentially dry but Gavenas manages to keep it interesting and easy to follow. It would be a great summer poolside read.
For the Neutrogena/Olay questions below...Neutrogena is still making its cosmetics line. Olay discontinued its cosmetics line but is still making skincare.
Some of the history regarding the pioneers of the cosmetic industry --is interesting. But the narrative regarding the development of one of Estee Lauder's seasonal "color stories was somewhat disjointed and difficult to follow. But maybe it's just me. Maybe I need to start reading Vogue and Glamour. Maybe I need to lighten up and put on some pink lipstick.
And, as a Texan, I loved the chapter about Mary Kay and the women who participate. It's a complicated subject and this is the best treatment I've come across.
I don't know if I would categorize it as a business book, a fashion book, or a history book, but I do recommend it!
And, to that reviewer from New Jersey, you have your facts wrong: Neutrogena Cosmetics are alive and well. Not only are they advertised on TV, they're being sold on the Web and my local drugstore as of today. I think you mean Oil of Olay, which went out of business a year or two back. How much of a cosmetics junkie could you possibly be?