It appears that the mass(tige) market is now starting to runneth over from the fashion cup into the realm of beauty. No longer is the designer/celeb-high street love affair relegated to the world of garments, rather the beauty world's equivalent of a fashion designer (the expert (and often celebrity) hair/makeup/skin/fitness guru) and celebrity (read: model or pretty person with beauty knowledge) have started launching their own lines en masse for the masses. Just look at the new James Brown line (Kate Moss's hair man), Richard Ward at Tesco, Normandy Keith's Radiant Skin Collection and Model.Me at Boots et al. Only time will tell if La Moss will create her own line, specially formulated to make you look like you've had a great night's sleep even if you've been on a 3-day bender!
Cindy Crawford's Meaningful Beauty hasn't really hit the beauty radar yet and Christy Turlington has started Sundari, which seems to be one of the few diamonds in the beaugh rough (Elle Macpherson's line at Boots is generally well-liked too), churning out some good Ayurvedic products. Don't even get me started on the sickeningly saccharine Dessert by Jessica Simpson (or her creepy range of hair extensions).
Now, this isn't an entirely new arena for beauty. After all, Iman's line has been around for donkey's. Cargo had several so-called celebrities (although the only name we recognised was Lindsay Lohan) design the colours of their very applaudably green Plant Love lipstick line. Charles Worthington has graced the high street for years and American superstore Target has Sonia Kashuk's eponymous line successfully gracing its cosmetics aisle. Plus, celebrity and model endorsement are par for the course with beauty brands (from Christy Brinkley's 1980s campaigns for Cover Girl to La Moss's front for Rimmel right now).
However, as always, we're a bit skeptical about the idea of mass luxury as it seems a bit oxymoronic, luxurying implying a sort of exclusivity, whether it be due to prohibitive pricing, inherent style or an eye for quality and curiosity for the niche things in life. And the masses, implying, well, what they do: not luxury.
Is luxury really so democratic that everyone can have a piece of the high-end pie? I don't think so, especially not in beauty products as, generally, when companies grow and mass produce the quality drops expontentially. Meaning, that even if it carries the label, there's a good chance it isn't lovely handmade by someone's Nana in the hills of Tuscany.
But it is great to have such a market, offering people with smaller incomes an upscale slice of the aspirational and seemingly luxurious pie as we're all in some way aspiring to a better, more luxurious (read: thinner, more beautiful, more desirable, richer, etc) state of being. If the symbolism of having prestigious product X in the bathroom cabinet makes one feel better, slaking one's desire for the better things in life and giving a boost to the old self-image, then good. We also understand that there's a bit of cash to be made appealing to us humble masses and we can't blame them for wanting a piece of it...