Clothing labels go for the finishing touch: beauty products

Special to the Los Angeles Times

Dressing from head to toe in a favorite fashion label may well include lashes, lips and nails, as more designers expand into the beauty business. And designer makeup in glamorous packaging puts a piece of the luxury lifestyle within reach of women who can't afford to spend thousands of dollars on a high-end designer dress or handbag.

Expanding into beauty makes good business sense for designers. The NPD Group, a company that tracks retail sales and market trends, reported in March that the U.S. prestige beauty industry made an 11% gain in 2011 and a 7% gain in 2012, with makeup generating the second highest category increase after skin care last year.

In the last few years, Burberry and Tom Ford have added cosmetics collections to their brands, joining a growing lineup of designer beauty that includes Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana, Dior and Giorgio Armani. In August, Michael Kors plans to introduce a color cosmetics collection, produced in collaboration with Estée Lauder; Jason Wu is partnering with Lancôme on a limited-edition, color cosmetics line that will hit Lancôme counters in September. More details on these collaborations will come later this summer. And earlier this month, Women's Wear Daily reported that Gucci is developing a makeup line that will launch next year.

Meanwhile, Lanvin creative director Alber Elbaz, fashion designer Matthew Williamson and French accessories designer Pierre Hardy have all partnered with beauty brands to design limited-edition cosmetics that hit stores this spring. A few days ago, Marc Jacobs released more information about his long-awaited color cosmetics line, a partnership with Sephora that's scheduled to launch in August. Here's the rundown on these four entrants in the beauty business.

Lancôme Show by Alber Elbaz

Known for his fancy-yet-fanciful designs for legendary Parisian fashion house Lanvin, designer Alber Elbaz has collaborated with French cosmetics brand Lancôme on a limited-edition eye makeup collection. The Lancôme Show by Alber Elbaz line, which launched June 15, is the designer's first foray into beauty. By applying the whimsical illustrations that are part of his signature aesthetic, Elbaz has dressed up four of Lancôme's bestselling mascaras ($29 each), four shades of the Color Design 5 Shadow & Liner Palettes ($51 each) and a pair of false lashes ($35) in "collectible couture outfits," according to Lancôme. The eye-popping packaging features cartoonish hearts, polka dots, stars and, of course, flirty eyes. At Lancôme counters and

Matthew Williamson and Benefit Cosmetics

British designer Matthew Williamson has teamed up with Benefit Cosmetics to create a limited-edition makeup kit that launched at the end of May. In keeping with Williamson's bohemian aesthetic, the Rich Is Back makeup set ($34) is decorated with a patchwork of the designer's archival prints, including peacock feathers, hexagons and rainbow leopard. The 1970s-inspired palette includes an eye shadow quadrant with pops of teal and gold, rosy-bronze blush, ruby-red lip gloss and a miniature mascara. Special editions of Benefit's bestselling Benetint lip and cheek stain ($26) and High Beam complexion highlighter ($30) are also available in Williamson's kaleidoscopic packaging. Available exclusively at Sephora stores and

Pierre Hardy for Nars

French shoe and accessories designer Pierre Hardy, known for his architectural designs and unexpected juxtapositions of color, has created a limited-edition beauty collection with Nars, the brand founded by famed French-born makeup artist Francois Nars. On sale since May, the six complementary nail polish duos ($29 for set of two) and two vibrant blush palettes with a gold overlay of Hardy's signature cubic print ($41 each), come in shades inspired by the designer's spring-summer 2013 footwear collection. The nail lacquer pairings are presented in miniature shoe boxes, complete with dust bags. The collection is available at the Nars flagship in West Hollywood [8412 Melrose Ave., (310) 623-1730] and at

Marc Jacobs Beauty

Marc Jacobs, who has two eponymous labels and is artistic director of Louis Vuitton, has launched several fragrance collections, and the makeup looks at his runway presentations are always directional. So it's no surprise that the progressive designer is expanding his empire into cosmetics. The much-anticipated Marc Jacobs Beauty collection is to premiere in early August with an impressive lineup of 120 products ($18-$78), including makeup brushes, foundations, concealer, bronzer, blush, eye shadows, eyeliners, mascara, brow gel, lipsticks, lip glosses, lip balm and nail lacquer. Always an arbiter of cool, Jacobs has created a line that combines sleek design with patented features and innovative formulations. A water-soluble mascara, for example, "works like spandex to make lashes lifted, curvaceous and voluminous," according to press materials. Available at Sephora,, select Marc Jacobs stores and, as of Aug. 9.

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